Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Thanksgiving Holiday

The library will be closed November 27-28 in observance of Thanksgiving. We wish all of our library friends a warm and happy holiday celebrated with family and friends.

Here is an early Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by Governor Edwin Chick Burleigh, in 1889. This image is from the Maine Memory Network website. If you would like to see an enlarged version of this image visit the MMN website at http://www.mainememory.net and search for Thanksgiving.
Governor Burleigh was the father of Vallie Burleigh Williamson, wife of Belfast native Joseph Williamson, Jr. Robert Williamson Jr, the grandson of Vallie and and Joseph Jr., donated family papers to the library in 2000 and some of the family letters were published in 2003 in The Williamson Family Papers Volume I: The College Years, 1844-1852. Copies of this publication are available to be checked out (or purchased) at the library.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wawenoc News

The Wawenoc Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society, which is sponsored by the BFL, is working on recording early Waldo and Knox County families for inclusion in the Maine Families in 1790 project. Here you see Joyce Julian, and group president, Roger Sprague, using BFL resources to gather information for their entries. The purpose of this book project, being produced by the MGS, is to record all Maine families that were included in the first federal census of 1790. 9 volumes have been produced thus far (available in the Special Collections area) and #10 is in the works. Entries in the books must include complete vital information (with documented proof) of each listed person their parents and their children, thus providing 3 generations of accurate, proven family information. The result is a great source of reliable information for people doing research of early Maine families. In order to prove information included in an entry, group members must find primary vital record documents such as birth, marriage, or death certificates, or reliable records kept in town or county offices, many of which have been published and are available in the library. Other primary resources that provide information include deeds, probate records, military records, cemetery and funeral home records and personal records, such as diaries and family bibles. If you are interested in becoming involved in this project, feel free to join us at our next meeting on Wednesday, November 19, at 2:00 p.m. on the third floor. For more information, contact me at bparadis@belfastlibrary.org or 338-3884 ext. 25 or go to the MGS site at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~megs/families.htm.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Adult Summer Reading Program Comes to an End

The 2008 Adult Summer Reading Challenge finished up on August 22nd. The winners of the two gift certificates to The Fertile Mind Bookshop are Larry Abbott and Steven Garrand. Congratulations!

Thanks to all who participated. The theme for this summer was The Great American Novel and reading lists are still available at the circulation desk, if you'd like to check out the recommended books. Participants were asked if the book they read was, in their opinion, a great American novel and to rate each book from 1 (not even close) to 10 (Yes!). Here are some of the comments and ratings submitted:

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
rating 6 - " To Kill a Mockingbird it ain't, but very honest and vivid none the less."
rating 4 - "HARSH!"

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
rating 10 - no comment

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
rating 4 - "Good story, I love Morrison - but not the Great American Novel."

Washington Square by Henry James
rating 4 - "Excellent book, but definitely not the Great American Novel."

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
rating 8 - "Profound for all."
rating 10 - no comment

Caretakers by Tabitha King
rating 7 - " A great look at the conflict between summer visitors and the natives in Maine communities - very enjoyable read."

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
rating 6 - "Not his best, but insightful."

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
rating 7 - "So close! Such imagery, but not quite."

Spoonhandle by Ruth Moore
rating 8 - "Moore paints a picture of Maine coastal life that is harsh and yet warm at the same time. Thanks for including some Maine authors on the list."

Native Son by Richard Wright
rating 9 - "Everyone needs to read this to understand race relations and themselves."

I hope everyone who participated enjoyed the books we selected. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about the Summer 2009 Challenge, please let me know.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Congratulations Brenda!

Brenda Harrington, Adult Programming Coordinator for the BFL, recently completed a graduate program in Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina.
For the past four years, Brenda has been juggling classes, papers, and projects AND a busy family life AND a demanding job. Well done, Brenda.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Community Loss

Our friend and co-worker, Ruth MacIntosh, passed away on July 25th. We feel a great sense of loss and sadness because of it and we know that all of you feel the same way. Ruth was a presence in the Belfast community and many of us will miss that presence. All of us who work here at the Belfast Free Library have been guided and shaped by Ruth. She taught us not only the variety of tasks needed to make the library function and serve the community, but also how to work together as a staff and get along as colleagues.
She was filled with good humor, integrity, and a tremendous amount of heart and she willingly shared all of those things with those of us who were lucky enough to know and work with her.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Three Cheers for the Belfast Garden Club

The beautiful gardens at the Belfast Free Library are maintained by the members of the Belfast Garden Club. They are also responsible for other gardens around town, including those at City Hall, the Post Office and the Belfast Museum. The presence of scaffolding that surrounded the library all winter and the necessity to place some of that structure in the middle of the gardens has added some challenges for the gardeners this year, but they, and the gardens, have rebounded beautifully.During three seasons of the year. entering the building each day, either through the front entrance or the back door, is a joyful experience. On Wednesday mornings, the group of workers are usually busy doing the things they do to make this all happen and I enjoy chatting with them for a minute before I go inside to get to my own work. I'm not a gardener, and haven't yet felt the pull to gardening that they obviously have, but I do appreciate the all-season beauty that club members make available to our visitors and the Belfast community , through their hard work and dedication. They not only maintain the gardens, they also raise funds to make them better and more beautiful each year.

Many club members are also making their own gardens available to visitors as part of Open Garden Days . Look for the schedule by the post office or pick one up at the library and check out some of these beautiful gardens. The dates run through September, so there are still plenty of fabulous gardens to see. While you are there, don't forget to put a little something in the donation box to ensure the clubs ability to continue this work in the future. For more information visit the Garden Club website.
The library has a large collection of gardening books for those inspired by the creations of local gardeners. Or, if you are interested in Belfast history, you might like to look at the Belfast Garden Club Records which are held in the Special Collections Department of the library. The collection includes minute books, scrapbooks and photographs dating from 1929 to 1982.

The photographs here were taken a couple of weeks ago, and already the garden has changed and filled out. There is always something new and colorful to look at, so be sure visit often to fully appreciate the magic that has been created here. And while you're in the neighborhood, you might as well come on inside and experience some library magic.

Friday, June 13, 2008


The 2008 Summer Reading Program at the Belfast Free Library, “Catch the Reading Bug”, begins June 28th at 11:00 with a concert by Dennis McGuire’s One Man Band. McGuire, a summer visitor to the area, plays acoustic guitar, harmonica, bass drum, tambourine and kazoo. He also does the vocals for a variety of foot stompin’, hand clappin’ favorites. Youngster and oldsters will be dancing in the aisles!
This year’s reading program has something for everyone and incorporates several events going on in town this summer, including the Celtic Festival and the Co-Motion program.
Story Hours for young children will be held Thursday at 10:00 (infants) and Friday at 11:00(preschoolers). Craft and game afternoons for elementary school children will be held Wednesdays at 2:00, beginning July 2. Book Discussion Groups for grades 4 – 6 and 7-9 will be held Mondays from 6:30 – 7:30. Check at the library for a schedule and books. Family entertainment will be featured throughout the summer. Check the library website, http://www.belfastlibrary.org/, or pick up a schedule at the library.
All youngsters will be encouraged to meet a summer reading challenge by charting their reading. Free books will be awarded to youngsters completing their goals. Charts, book bags, instructions, and schedules will all be available at the Dennis McGuire Concert.
For more information, contact the library at 338-3884 x 24.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


What happens when a book outlives its purpose on the shelf?

If it falls into the right hands, it is transformed into an art object that may or may not resemble its original form as a book. An “altered book” is any book, old or new that has been recycled by creative means into a work of art.

Coming this fall...Renewables: Altered Books - a community wide art project co-sponsored by Waterfall Arts, The Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) and the Belfast Free Library.

If you want to find out more and learn about this project please come to the Fear No Art: Altered Books presentation at the Belfast Free Library on Wednesday June 25th at 6:30 pm. Cathy Melio, Education Director at CMCA in Rockport will present this slide show, which is the kick off event for this exciting community-wide altered books project coming this September to the midcoast area. There are several free altered book workshops, a panel discussion and an artist lecture scheduled for the fall. We hope to engage people of all ages and levels of art experience (or inexperience) in transforming books into works of art- an altered book- and then exhibit them in November at the Belfast Free Library, Waterfall Arts and CMCA.
Just Imagine What You Could Do With A Discarded Book....

"Stop in for a Show" - A Family Program

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Using the Library from home - Part I

If you are looking at this blog in the comfort of your own home, then you might like to know about the other library services that you can access on your home computer. We love it when you visit us at the library but we know that sometimes it's more convenient to be able to do some things from home.

Searching the catalog:

Not only can you search the BFL catalog, but the catalogs of all the libraries in the Minerva system, the University of Maine System libraries, the Community College and Technical College library systems and Bowdoin, Bates and Colby College libraries are all available to you from home.

Start with the Minerva catalog by clicking on "Library Catalog" on the BFL homepage (belfastlibrary.org). If you want to search only the BFL collection, you can limit your search by selecting it from the drop down menu under "select library" but you might want to search the whole Minerva Catalog because in a later section, I'll tell you how you can request items not available at BFL from other libraries. If you still don't find what you are looking for, there's one more place to look. If the book, video, audiobook, music cd, or magazine that you are looking for isn't available in Minerva try looking in statewide library catalog by clicking on the "Search MaineCat" button on the search screen.

View your own patron record:

While looking at the search screen in Minerva, click on the "Patron Record" button in the tool bar below the entry box. You will be prompted for your name (last name will do) and barcode number (no spaces) and then taken to a patron record screen. From here you can look at the items you have checked out, any fines you might owe, and any books that you have on hold. If you have items that are due to be returned and you need more time, you can request a renewal from here. Click on "Items Currently Checked Out" to get the list. You can click the button that says "Renew all" and the system will renew anything that is renewable, or you can select items to renew. Items borrowed from this library can be renewed 3 times, while those from other libraries can only be renewed once.

Request from other libraries:

This process has become so quick and easy that we are borrowing and lending hundreds of items each week for Maine library patrons. This option makes many more items available to you than we can afford to provide and we hope you will take advantage of it. We receive daily deliveries so most items can be here in a few days. Once you have found an item that you want either in Minerva or MaineCat, and you note that the item status is "available" click on the "request this item" button or link, fill out the requested information - last name and barcode only for Minerva items, home library, last name and barcode for MaineCat items - and submit your request. If you find that the item you want is in Minerva, but is checked out, you can still request it and you will be added to the list of holds for that item. When one becomes available, it will be sent here for you. MaineCat is a little less flexible. It won't let you request items that are also in Minerva libraries and it won't let you request items that are already checked out - you have to wait for them to be available.

That's it for now. Take a look at these online services when you get a chance, and check back here for more. In Part II, I'll tell you about Marvel and some other resources that you can access from home.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to Us!

The Belfast Free Library first opened it doors on May 1, 1888, so we celebrate our 120th birthday today. A bequest of $20,000 from Paul Richard Hazeltine and a $31,000 bequest from the Nathaniel Wilson (pictured below) estate, made it possible for the city to purchase the land and construct the building. The land, then occupied by the Robert Miller house, was purchased in 1886 and the Miller house was moved to Bridge Street. Julius Munchwitz of New York was the architect and the contractor was James Thomas Pottle, who completed the building in November of 1887.

Here is Joseph Williamson's description of the building from Vol. II of his History of the City of Belfast: " The body of the structure is of red granite, and the finish and trimmings are of Somerville gray granite. The building is one story high with a basement, and has a frontage of fifty-six feet on High Street and of thirty-two on Miller. The rooms are nineteen feet in height. It is estimated that the bookroom has a capacity of fourteen thousand volumes."
This old interior shot is showing the view from the current reference room into the portrait/computer room. At that time, the stacks were closed and all book requests were paged by the staff. Patrons were allowed to check out only one book at a time.
The first President of the Library Board of Trustees and the first library card holder, was Joseph Williamson and the first librarian was Miss Elizabeth Maltby Pond, with Miss Annie Veazie Field as her assistant.

The first General Catalogue was published in 1896. Prior to that date, a yearly bulletin was published with the annual report and current holdings of the library listed.

In 1931, a gift from Maud Gammans made it possible for the library to add a large, elegant reading room to the rear of the existing building, aptly named the Gammans room. Furnishings, art and artifacts were also part of the gift and you will see that many of the items in the photograph below still decorate this room. Here, also, is a photo of the exterior building after this addition.

This symbol of the original Hazeltine gift is still in view over the door of the former entrance to the library.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Friends of the Belfast Free Library

I recently attended a meeting of the Friends of the Belfast Free Library and thought you might like to know a little about these local people who do so much to help us serve you. This group of dedicated volunteeers was founded in 1992 for the following purposes:
  • To assist the library in developing and maintaining its services and usefulness in our community through financial support.

  • To encourage the community to support the library through gifts of gently used book, volunteer services, financial gifts, and other resources.

  • To promote the use of the library in the intellectual and cultural enrichment of life in Belfast by sponsorship of programs, concerts, and other public events.
The Friends meet in the Abbott Room the third Monday of each month from September through May at 11:00, and are always looking for new members to help with the great work they do.

To become a member of the Friends of the Belfast Free Library, please ask for a membership application at the Circulation Desk. The annual membership fee is $10.00/individual, or $15.00/family.

President Pat Aldrich conducts a recent meeting of the Friends. Topics of discussion included the upcoming annual book sale (in June - look for more information soon), a recap of the recent card party fundraiser, the need for a new microfilm reader/printer for the Special Collections area, and this blog.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thank You, Beac

One day a couple of weeks ago, I got the news that my friend Seward Beacom, a resident of Penobscot Shores, but a man of the world, had passed away. He was 95, and lived a long and very full life, making major contributions along the way, and I knew in the back of my mind that it would happen eventually, but I was totally unprepared. He was a great friend of the library and particularly of the Special Collections area, and I'm happy to say, a personal friend as well. He took on many projects here in the library, for me and for my predecessor, and he always completed them with great enthusiasm and went above and beyond expectations. One of the projects he was working on recently was capturing obituaries from local newspapers and adding them into a database that genealogists and other library patrons will find useful in the future. He often commented to me that he didn't want any flowery retelling of his life, in fact he didn't want any obituary at all. His family has complied with his wishes, and so I will too, except to say that I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to know and work with Beac for the past 6 years and I miss his Friday afternoon phone calls telling me he was "caught up with the obits" and to "be careful driving home."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

An Eye on Dance, photographs by Daniel O'Connell

Noted Mid-Coast press photographer Daniel O'Connell's first solo exhibit, “An Eye on Dance” will run April 1- 30 at the Kramer Gallery of the Belfast Free Library. The show, which features his photographs of the Lasansky Dance Theater Ensemble, celebrates National Dance Week.
The opening reception on Friday, April 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. will feature three solos by Lasansky dancers Erin Vasil of Belfast, Harper Gordon of Rockport and Emily Pote of Camden, who will perform at 6 p.m. Clare Olson of Belfast will give a poetry reading complementary to one of the dances

Besides National Dance Week, the show and concert will honor World Dance Day and Poetry Month. All are invited to attend this free celebration of dance and poetry in the Kramer Gallery and Abbott Room of the Belfast Free Library.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Art Display in Children's Area

Have you seen the new art work in the Children's Room? Great pieces have been contributed by the students from MSAD #34, the Toddy Pond School, and Cornerspring Children's house. Jessica Porter and Samantha Hunter are the elementary teachers for MSAD #34. Lesia Sochor guides youngsters at Toddy Pond and Eva Wagner implements the art program at Cornerspring.
Here is a brief sample of the childern's work. Visit the entire exhibit on the 2nd floor.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Love Letters to the World: Hot Art/Hot Poems

Friday March 28th, 6pm. Reception and Celebration for this exhibit that has brought so much interest and positive feedback from the community.

Reception starts at 6pm, Poetry Readings with the contest winners and special appearances from Barbara Maria and Candace Stover starts at 7pm.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wawenoc Chapter Genealogy Group Meeting

The Wawenoc Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society meets in the library each month on the third Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. Depending on the program we either meet in the third floor conference room or in the Abbott Room. The schedule for the next several months is as follows:

Wednesday, February 20 – 2:00 p.m. Special Collections
LDS Digital Project Presentation
Volunteers from the Genealogical Society of Utah who have been in the area scanning court and town records for FamilySearch.org will be on hand to talk about the society and the work they have been doing in Maine.

[note: Here's an image from the Feb. meeting, provided by Maureen Taylor]

Wednesday, March 19 – 2:00 p.m. Abbott Room
Searching for Census Dead Ends
Having trouble finding Great Grandpa Fred in the 1920 census? You know he has to be there, but you can’t find him in the index? Send your toughest census dead end in before this meeting (bparadis@belfastlibrary.org) and Dereka Smith will bring out her bag of tricks and tips to track them down.

[note: Some photos of the March meeting with Dereka demonstrating on the Abbott room projection system.]

Wednesday, April 16 – 2:00 p.m. Abbott Room
Sarah's Journey:Retracing an Ancestor's Life with Military Pension Files
Dale Mower, President of the Maine Genealogical Society, will share the story of Sarah Shannon and the genealogical treasures that can be found in pension records.

Each program will be followed by a time for sharing information and refreshments, ending at 4:00 p.m.


If you have any questions about this group leave a comment here or contact me at bparadis@belfastlibrary.org or 338-3884 ext. 25.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Travel Guides

This time of year, as the gray days of winter drag on, many of us think about traveling to other places. Right about now, I would love to spend a week in a warm tropical haven, soaking up some sun and eating exotic foods, just to get through until Spring. If you are planning a vacation for this winter or anytime of year, you will probably find our travel guides useful. If you haven't found the guides in the library yet, they are all in the non-fiction section between 914 and 919. One of my jobs is to try to keep our collection of these guides current, and it's not always easy. You can help by letting me know what guides you would like to see in the collection. Do you find a particular publisher's guides to be more useful than others? Is there a location that we don't have guides to that you would like to see added or are there guides that should be updated? It's not possible to include every new travel guide in our collection, but with your help, I think we can make it useful to all of you world travelers out there, and to those of us who just like to dream about traveling one day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

February in the Kramer Gallery

“The Season’s of Belfast” by Debbie Flood in the Kramer Gallery for February.

“The Season’s of Belfast” Belfast artist Debbie Flood is a collection of watercolor paintings that all have a common theme: Belfast in its different seasons. Seasons from long ago are depicted through the Belfast’s past series, seasons from now and the past in Debbie’s life are depicted through images of her children at play on the shore at the Belfast City park, sliding in the snow at their grandmother’s Belfast home, steamers from a summer day, picnicking with family, and star fish caught in tidal pools. Fall scenes that reflect something that has been lost, but found again in the full circle of life. All the paintings in this exhibit encircle the theme of nature and the seasons of our lives in Belfast. The exhibit will be on display in the Kramer Gallery of the Belfast Free Library February 4th through March 3rd 2008.
To find out more about Debbie Flood go to her website at

Watercolor: "Brooding on the Shore"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's in Special Collections, anyway?

If you've never ventured up to the top floor of the library, you might be surprised to find a great space with a good collection of local history and genealogy materials. The floor to ceiling windows on this floor offer a spectacular view of the bay and provide a pleasant spot to do research, study or connect to the wi-fi network. Included in the book collection are town histories, family histories, census records, Maine history and genealogy periodicals, and general Maine history volumes. All of the Republican Journal, Waldo Independant, and Village Soup Citizen newspapers are archived here, as are some other Belfast newspapers that are no longer published. Belfast school yearbooks and Belfast city reports as well as reports of other Waldo County towns are housed in this area. For genealogists and family researchers, the library subscribes to HeritageQuest Online and Ancestry Library Edition which I am happy to get you started on. I also maintain a surname file, which you are welcome to consult and add to if you have local family information that you are willing to share. If you have a reference question of any sort, you will find me in my office on this floor. I am here to serve you as Reference and Special Collections librarian, so feel free to consult with me at any time. Hope to see you soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Welcome to the BFL Blog

Hi Everyone!Thanks for joining us at our new Belfast Free Library Blog. We will be using this format to keep you informed of library news and events, to answer questions about the library and library services, and hopefully, add some fun to your on-line library visit. Several staff members will be contributing to the blog, and we hope you will participate by adding comments.