The Vanishing American Barn – a fall exhibit at the Long Island Community Library

Just in time for fall, we present to you our newest exhibit at the Long Island Community Library small meeting room glass case.

“The Vanishing American Barn” : plates collected by Flo Brown

Flo has collected many plates, including this lovely series of plates that speak of autumn, as we celebrate the beginning of this season on Long Island. This series is called “The Vanishing American Barn” created by Harris Hien for Historic Providence Mint around 1983. Types of barns include Lancaster, Southern Tobacco, Hudson River, Victorian, New England, Thatched, Log, Appalachian, Buck County, and Round barns.

Come enjoy an exhibit that showcases a Long Islander’s collection.

Open during Library hours

October is National Family History Month

Did you know that October is National Family History Month? Well, in Australia it is! I’d like to take advantage of that fact to remind you that (AncestryLibrary) is available for free at the Long Island Community Library, using one of the library computers or the Wifi: Ancestry Library Edition Resources. This is a great way to get started on your family history, or try to find that elusive family member (perhaps the black sheep) in your family tree. Genealogy was prominent this summer on Long Island, with the wonderful exhibit that the Long Island Historical Society put on about the Murphy family. Cheryl Nickerson Nutter did a fabulous program about her research for the exhibit, as well as pointing out some great resources. Stay tuned for more genealogy programs in the future!

Gaylord, a source for archival materials, offers “My family history kit” to get you started on housing your family treasures. The Gaylord Archival® My Family History Kit includes all the materials needed to start collecting and recording family history and genealogy. Use the 15-generation pedigree chart to plot your family tree. A helpful brochure provides a starting place for genealogical research and questions to ask in oral history interviews. File folders, envelopes and polypropylene sleeves provide safe storage and organization for photographs and important documents, such as letters and certificates.

As far as my own personal family history, no, I’m not related to anyone on the island. But my mother reminded me that this month both sets of my grandparents were married 100 years ago! Coincidentally, they were married one day a part – my paternal grandparents (Morton and Pansy Noble, see below) in Cleveland, Ohio (at the Old Stone Church) and my maternal grandparents (William and Anna Goudberg) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And here I am today, working at the Maine Historical Society, and encouraging you to research your family stories.



Revisiting the classics, or old familiar favorites

Have you ever revisited an old familiar favorite book, or a classic that you read years ago as a school assignment? Were your reactions similar to when you first read it, or has the wisdom of the years made you view it differently? For example, this summer’s LICL book group read Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth. One of the group members had read this in high school, 50 years ago, and when she attended her 50th high school reunion, talked to her classmates about the book. I had read this book several years ago as part of another LICL book group (an offshoot of Bo Burke’s classics book group, where some of us decided that women writers weren’t being represented). All I remembered is that the ending wasn’t happy, and rereading it brought the same confirmation. Watching the movie version, though, made for a more visual imprint of the story on my mind.

I also recently reread “Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which I had read in my late teenage years. I had loved the first book so much that I ended up reading the entire series (26 books), as all the books were such rip-roaring yarns. Re-reading the first in the series reminded me of how much of a rip-roaring yarn it was, but I also found it to be very melodramatic and somewhat racist. Still, it was fun to read, and we may continue reading more of the series at some point, as the first book is kind of a cliff-hanger (will Tarzan and Jane stay together? Well, we know what happens, but the how makes it intriguing).

It’s not often that I re-read a book, but there are some that stay in my memory, so they are worth reading again. I have searched out books that I read as a child, and if they are well-written, they still bring a thrill to my soul, even if I remember the basic plot.

What are some books that you have reread recently, or just books that you return to from time to time?

Authors on the Bay: Steven English

For those of you who regularly ride down the bay, you may have been intrigued to see a young man with earphones constantly scribbling notes into a notebook, and wondered what he was up to. Well, I would like to introduce you to Steven English, a writer who lives at Diamond Cove. You may have also seen him at Andy’s, the waterfront waterhole for many islanders, where he has worked the past 6 years as a server. But his true passion is writing, and he finds living on Casco Bay to be a perfect setting for this author. Originally from Edison, New Jersey, where his “Class of 85” series takes place (name changed to “Whitfield”), Steve has been writing since he was young, but started his “Class of 85” series in 1999. Written in diary form, these books take place in high school years, and show the different lives and perspectives of high schoolers. There are 5 books published, with 1 or 2 more in the works. Steve self-publishes his books through Amazon and Kindle, which has a paperback division.

Living on an island and commuting by ferry to work allows him the chance to really relax and slow down, and write. When he’s not on the island or working, you can find him at any of the many cafes in Portland, enjoying coffee while absorbing conversations around him, which gives him inspiration and ideas. Steve does not lack in ideas – he has many thoughts in his head. They start there, and then he hand writes them in his notebooks. From there he puts them on computer, and edits, edits, edits. While most of his books take place in 80s New Jersey, he also has some other themes in his books, such as time travel. He does have an idea for a book that takes place in Casco Bay, so stay tuned for that one! In the meantime, Steve says to his fellow island community, “Keep reading!” And he would also love feedback on any of his current books.

LICL summer book group 2019

It’s that time again! This summer’s choice of book is Edith Wharton’s novel, “The House of Mirth.”  Please join us as we examine the status of women in the “Gilded Age” and follow Lily Bart as she struggles between her search for a meaningful relationship and the indignities of the “marriage market.”

Please sign up at the library if you would like to participate. We will meet on Mondays at 7:00 PM in the small library meeting room, beginning with August 5th, then the 12th and 19th. Please call Penny Murley 766-5931 for more information.

Autism in fiction

I’ve recently been reading a slew of books that deal with lead characters that are on the autism spectrum, most recently “Ginny Moon” by Benjamin Ludwig. Writing in the first person is quite an exercise for the reader – at least for me, as it makes me feel slightly autistic myself. Another recent read was “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine” by Gail Honeyman – while Eleanor may not technically be autistic (Asperger’s), she does seem to lack basic social clues. Don Tillman, in “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion, is also a brilliant narrator who misses obvious social clues, but somehow still wins the girl. One of the first books that I read which also had this type of  first person narrator with autism: “The curious incident of the dog in the night-time,” by Mark Haddon. All of these books have an amazing ability to put yourself into the every day world of someone with autism (and many of these can be found at the Long Island Community Library).

Beanie Babies!

We are pleased to bring you a fun summer exhibit at the Long Island Community Library, in the small meeting room glass case. Annie Donovan is sharing the Beanie Babies collected by her family, since the fall of 1996.

Come see these wonderful stuffed animals, and learn more about the history of Beanie Babies. (open during library hours)

Quarry: The Collected Poems of Peter Kilgore

In honor of National Poetry Month, we are pleased to announce that one of our island poets has a new book out. Peter was the brother of Nancy Berges, Michael Kilgore, and Mervin Kilgore, and father of Shawnee Kilgore, who sometimes delights Long Islanders with her musical gifts. This book will be available at the Long Island Community Library.


Quarry: The Collected Poems of Peter Kilgore
Peter Kilgore; Bruce Holsapple and Dana Wilde, eds.
North Country Press

Peter Kilgore (1940-1992) was a well-known figure in Portland, Maine’s literary underground in the 1970s and ’80s. His taut, crisply imagistic poetry of the Maine coast and wilderness areas appeared during his lifetime in many regional publications and in several books and chapbooks, including The Bar Harbor Suite (Blackberry Books) and Drinking Wine Out of the Wind. All of Peter’s published poems and many he left in manuscript are offered for the first time together in Quarry. A graduate of Bowdoin College, Peter was a founder of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, a teacher, and a contributing editor for Contraband, one of Maine’s most influential small magazines. His poetry reflects a deep reverence for Maine’s natural world, particularly his relationship to the sea and Casco Bay. His poems are likely to register profoundly for a long time to come, and Quarry secures Peter’s place in the literary history of Portland, and Maine.

The tale of two first ladies

One of the members of my book group suggested we read Laura Bush’s autobiography Spoken from the heart. An island friend saw me reading it, and lent me her copy of Michelle Obama’s Becoming. So, back to back, I read two amazing autobiographies about two amazing women, who happened to be First Ladies of the United States. They both struggled with infertility, and then went on to have two daughters – Laura’s daughters were off in college when the Bushes were in office, but Sasha and Malia Obama spent their youthful years living in the White House. Laura grew up an only child in Texas, to middle class parents. Michelle’s tight knit working class family of 4 lived in Chicago’s South Side. Laura was a teacher and librarian, and Michelle a lawyer and director of non-profits. Both rose to the occasion and pursued their passions – Laura for libraries and literature, and Michelle for military families and children’s fitness and nutrition.

Politics aside, both these women were very popular first ladies. I enjoyed both books, but Michelle’s story was more gripping, both from her personal perspective on life, and also the challenges she faced in being a black woman in today’s society. My favorite part of her book is when she met Barack, and fell in love with him. As someone who has always been a huge fan of Barack Obama, I totally got that part. But Laura’s story gave me a new appreciation for the Bush family and Bush years in the White House. The two stories link together in Michelle’s description of the passing of the baton from the Bushes to the Obamas, how the entire transaction was tinged with kindness, which came across so much in Spoken from the Heart.

Symbols of love and 19th century gentility: Fans, valentines, and heirlooms from the Angell, Arnold and Dyer family of Rhode Island

(from the collections of Meredith Dyer Sweet)

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, and during the time of year when we can use some extra beauty and grace in our lives, we present to you an exhibit of fans from the collections of Meredith Sweet, as well as some family valentines and items that were used by the genteel citizens of Rhode Island, such as calling cards.

Fans were used as early as 4000 years ago in ancient Egypt, and Chinese ladies used fans 3000 years ago. In the 17th century China was exporting fans to Europe, where the fans served many purposes, including offering “fan flirtation rules,” as a way of coping with the restricting social etiquette. For example, resting the fan on the right cheek meant “yes,” and resting it on the left cheek meant “no.” The fans in this collection are made of silk, cloth, and paper, and some have ivory handles and tassels. One fan is made in Japan, and another is an 1893 calendar fan. Floral designs can be seen, as well as an elegant black and gold fan.

The valentines range from 19th century to early 20th century, including valentine postcards and moveable valentines. Family valentines are represented (Meredith and her brother Jerry sent cards, and there is a card “sent to Arthur by Aunt Emily when he was a little boy”), as well as valentines sent between friends (Meredith exchanged valentines with Long Island’s Gail Wood). One charming valentine contains this verse: “Hustle! Mr. Bachelor get yourself a wife, there’s nothing in this world thus half so sweet, you’re wasting half your life.”

Finally, in the exhibit can be seen a pair of delicate black hand mitts, which allowed a woman to do handwork, as well as show off flashy rings. A calling card which belonged to “Mrs. William O. Dyer” is clasped in a metal hand clip – another way to showcase how polite society handled visitors in the 19th century.

For more information on the history and language of fans, see:
And valentines at the Maine Historical Society:
Calling card etiquette can be found here:
Significance of gloves:

Long Island Community Library
The exhibit is open during library hours
in the small meeting room glass case

A small library on an island on the coast of Maine