Special libraries in Portland – The Maine Historical Society Library

Last in our series about special libraries in Portland – my own library, where I work. It’s especially pretty this time of year, so feel free to stop by and stick your nose in. If I’m here I’m happy to give a tour!

Tucked behind the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, the Maine Historical Society’s Alida Carroll and John Marshall Brown Library, built in 1907, was recently renovated and expanded, and is not only more beautiful than ever, but has more storage for all of its collections. The reading room is a delight to behold, with olive green walls lined with portraits of people who are associated with the collections, new handsome wooden shelving and furniture, and high arched windows overlooking the newly landscaped Longfellow Garden. The library maintains the original glass floors in the mezzanine to let in the light, while iron stacks are lined with old and new books where members can browse. The Society was founded in 1822 as the third oldest historical society in the nation, and has all sorts of treasures, from the Benedict Arnold’s letterbook from the 1775 expedition to Quebec, given to the library by Aaron Burr, to tickets to the Elvis Presley concert that was cancelled due to his death.The collections in the library don’t circulate, but researchers can use the books in house to delve into subjects ranging from genealogy to Maine history to researching your house’s history. If you’re not in the mood to research because the weather is just too nice to be inside, the garden is a lovely and inviting respite from the busy traffic on Congress Street. In the warmer months, members of the business and local community are welcome to bring their lunches into the garden to commune with friends or to just to enjoy reading a good book of their own.

For more information: http://www.mainehistory.org/library_overview.shtml

We are What we Ate: A Maine Historical Society Reading and Discussion Program

Here’s a book group that I couldn’t resist – it combines two of my favorites: food and books!

We are What we Ate: A Maine Historical Society Reading and Discussion Program Facilitator: Larissa Vigue Picard, MHS Community Partnership Coordinator

Join us this January through May for our fourth annual MHS reading group. This year, we explore a topic that resonates across humanity, inspiring great passion and wide-ranging opinion–food! In non-fiction and fiction, we’ll examine how the food that has been envisioned, produced, sold, shared, cooked, and eaten in the past–whether by desire, tradition, deprivation, or other forces beyond one’s control–has influenced numerous aspects of life. In addition to a wide variety of short readings and excerpts which will be provided as handouts to participants, books include Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton; 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman; Something from the Oven by Laura Shapiro; and The Emperors of Chocolate, by Joel Glenn Brenner (Emperors is currently out of print but widely available used–and at your public library!). Discussion dates are January 22, February 26, March 26, April 23, May 28; time is 6:30PM. Registration is required by Friday, January 11. Participation is limited; the group has traditionally filled up quickly. Fee: $20 for MHS members; $25 for non-members. (Books will not be available through the MHS store; participants must supply these on their own.) For a complete reading list and a registration form, please visit http://www.mainehistory.org/programs_events.shtml#January.