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Washburn library boasts new entrance, revamped shelving

WASHBURN, Maine — After completing exterior renovations and reorganizing much of their shelving space, the folks behind the Washburn Memorial Library are looking forward to expanding the programs and services that they offer to people of all ages in town.

This past July the library got a makeover with a new wheelchair-accessible ramp, front steps and a cement sidewalk installed by local company Thompson Masonry. The renovations were made possible by a $20,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, which also included funds for a new library book drop box that now sits on the front steps.

Librarian Lois Walton said the library’s remaining outdoor project is planting a flower garden, with the help of students from Don Hanson’s industrial arts class at Washburn District High School. She expects the library will receive a donated park bench to complete the setting.

Walton, library board members and volunteers have also finished a lengthy “weeding” of older books that had lined the library’s shelves for years, many dating back to the late 1960s. Much of the books are gone now thanks to a New York-based couple who took the books with them for a business they are starting back home.

“They’re opening a coffee shop and used bookstore where they live and so they spent two hours loading most of these old books into a U-Haul truck,” Walton said. “We had weeded out $5,000 worth of books.”

Inside, the library has placed its young adult and junior fiction sections near the front entrance, shelving junior nonfiction books with the general nonfiction titles. In addition to a wide selection of books, library officials hope to attract younger patrons by possibly starting a Lego club and a teen book club. An adult book club will meet on the fourth Monday of each month at 11 a.m. beginning on Sept. 24.

Since sending home letters to elementary school students inviting them to make the library a part of their education, Walton has handed out nearly 100 new library cards to both students and their parents. She hopes many children and teens will take advantage of not just the books but also iPads that include fun, interactive games.

By establishing a tradition of going to the library, Walton noted, perhaps some of those same students might want to volunteer when they are older.

“We had three high school students helping us with the weeding project this summer, and those same three will come back during harvest break to help with inventory,” Walton said. “All of them were excited to come here every day and they’re excited to come back.”

Being the only staff member at the library means Walton isn’t always able to move forward with as many library programs as she would like. It takes the efforts of many people to turn ideas into regular programming, she said, but doing so would not be impossible with the help of more volunteers who are willing to step up. She pointed to the younger generation as yet another example of what could happen when eager minds come together.

“During the last week that the student volunteers were here they held a story and craft time for summer school students that I had been working with. They seem to have a real interest in working with younger children,” Walton said. “There’s only so much one person can do, but sometimes it takes more people to partner and take over a project.”

The Washburn Memorial Library is located at 1290 Main Street in Washburn and is open on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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