New employees at Caribou Library hope to encourage community involvement

2 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou Public Library recently gained two new employees who are excited about forging community connections.

New assistant and circulation librarian Catherine Catranis began work in late May, while children’s librarian Kirsten Hallowell arrived shortly afterward in June. After their first month on the job, both librarians want to help expand current events and programs for local patrons.

Before moving to Aroostook, Catranis was a field researcher for the York County-based farm of Bejo Seeds, Inc., an international seed testing company. She is building a farmstead at her Easton home and hopes to incorporate her love of science into her latest job.

Catranis is in the early stages of starting a seed library program in Caribou that will allow community members to donate and check out free packets of seeds to plant in their home gardens. 

She hopes that the program could help launch library-based events and conversations about gardening and related topics.

“It’s a program that has been on hiatus, so we’re hoping that it will really come into fruition next year,” Catranis said. “People could develop their gardening skills and talk about issues like food scarcity and nutrition.”

When people walk into the library, they are most likely to meet Catranis at the front desk. That is where she has been known to answer a range of questions, from how to find books by certain authors to accurate information on the latest COVID-19 relief checks.

For Catranis, who previously worked at Millinocket Memorial Library, interacting with and helping patrons makes her job worthwhile.

“It’s always rewarding when you’re able to answer somebody’s questions,” Catranis said. “Library staff are very dedicated, and the library itself has become a clearinghouse of information for people.”

Having previously served as children’s librarian at the Pittsfield Public Library, Hallowell is no stranger to interacting with the youngest readers and their families.

Hallowell moved from Somerset County with her daughter Olivia, now 20, in 2019. They raise horses on Lucky Penny Farm in New Sweden. 

As she gets to know local families, Hallowell hopes to gather ideas for potential new programs and continue hosting popular activities like storytime and middle and high school book clubs.

“When you move into a community, it can be hard to make connections, but working here has made it much easier to get to know people and the books they like,” Hallowell said.

Some of Hallowell’s most rewarding moments have involved seeing local children get excited about reading.

“It’s so fun to see them come closer to look at the book or ask questions [during storytime],” Hallowell said. “Sometimes when I see them later, they’ll remember the book and bring up something they learned.”

Library Director Peter Baldwin praised Catranis and Hallowell for bringing new ideas and fresh enthusiasm to library programs.

Catherine’s wealth of agricultural knowledge and Kirsten’s drive for engaging activities have already shown a change in the library atmosphere,” Baldwin said. “I look forward to seeing what new directions that they take the library in in the future.”

The Caribou Public Library, at 30 High St., is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday during summer vacation.