More special libraries in Portland to investigate

A few months ago I wrote about the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association Library, as well as the Maine Irish Heritage Center Library – both of which are elegant destinations in and of themselves, let alone the books they hold. Here are a few more libraries to investigate:

The Greater Portland Landmarks Frances W. Peabody Library is located at 93 High Street, in the Stafford House. The GPL library is the “only library specializing in architecture, preservation, and restoration.” The staff is dedicated to making the collection of books and magazines on architecture, home improvement, and preservation a useful resource to members of the Landmarks, as well as researchers interested in the history of their house and neighborhood.

If art is your thing, the Maine College of Art’s Joanne Waxman Library on Congress Street has the best view and sunshine in which to relax and read. Although you have to be a student or own a library card to check books out, Library Director Moira Steven welcomes folks in the community to just enjoy reading, in this large open modern library, the numerous art books and periodicals that she has available. Moira says, “We have approximately 30,000 titles and 100 journal subscriptions, 85{a924d0e49cc5813a40c6e5abf88cc5a144f266a1cd8c3074f66db425794a7bb6} of which are art-related. Our Special Collections room holds over 500 titles, many of them examples of Victoria printing and binding as well as an artist book collection of over 150 titles.  We hold exhibitions of student and community art and thematic displays of art and design titles throughout the academic year.”

If your interests lean towards religion and spirituality, Portland is most fortunate to have the Bangor Theological Seminary General Theological Library. This library is in the same building as the State Street Church offices, just up the street from the Maine Irish Heritage Center. (Go upstairs for the church office, and downstairs for the Seminary offices, classrooms, and library). Librarian Laurie McQuarrie is available to help you navigate your way through their collections of theological books and periodicals. While their primary mission is to serve their faculty and students, the public is welcome to use the library. Sadly, though, this library will no longer be with us after next summer, as Bangor Theological Seminary will no longer be granting degrees, thus no library. So, visit this library while you can.

So, if art, architecture, and religion is your thing, these three downtown Portland libraries offer wonderful resources, including books to absorb and relish.

Foreign film night: “Monsieur Lazhar”


“Monsieur Lazhar”  (Canadian/French, 2011)

2012 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.   An Algerian immigrant becomes a substitute school teacher and changes the lives of the children he teaches after a tragedy.  (English Subtitles)

Wednesday, September 26, Library Learning Center, 7:30 p.m.

FREE (Wednesday night series of movies from around the world)

Bennett’s Island Trilogy revisited

Some of you know my story – how I came to live on an island. It goes something like this: “years ago, when I was living in California, I came across Elisabeth Ogilvie’s novels about an island off the coast of Maine, and the families that lived there. When I read these books, I thought ‘someday I want to live on an island in Maine.'” Now I’m fortunate enough to call Long Island home, so when I reread these books, do they still hold the .same magic for me? I’m happy to say that they still do. I just finished rereading the third in the trilogy, which consists of High Tide at Noon (1944), The Storm Tide (1945), The Ebb Tide (1947). Ogilvie contined to write about the characters well beyond the initial trilogy, for about 50 years, but these first three books are the ones that really captured my imagination with their descriptions, voice, plots, and characters.

Foreign film night: “A Separation”


“A Separation”

(From Iran, 2011)

2011 Academy Award and Golden Globe Winner for Best Foreign Language Film.

Set in contemporary Iran, a family struggles with the decision to improve the life of their daughter by leaving the country, or staying to care for a grandfather with Alzheimer’s.            (English Subtitles)

Wednesday, September 19, Library Learning Center, 7:30 p.m.

FREE   (Wednesday night series of movies from around the world)

Winter Weekend 2013: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Something to look forward to this winter…

On the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s birth, the Maine Humanities Council is delighted to announce our first Dickens novel for Winter Weekend. Great Expectations, one of Dickens’s mature novels, is replete with his trademark colorful characters and biting criticism of society. This bildungsroman is a powerful and dramatic story from Dickens at his prime.

Winter Weekend is a humanities experience that, though lectures and discussions, unites historians, writers, artists, public intellectuals, and others to help us understand each year’s book in its rich historical and cultural context.

Winter Weekend 2013 will take place March 8 and 9 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. The $225 registration fee includes a copy of the book, background readings, a reception, dinner, lunch, and coffee. CEUs are available for teachers. Limited scholarships are available for college and high school students. The program starts at 5 p.m. on Friday and continues until mid-afternoon on Saturday.

To register, visit