Young patrons leave a trail of discoveries at the Orr’s Island Library. (Daniel Hoebeke photo)

You walk into a hardware store and ask for a screwdriver. The clerk points to a small array. “Where are your cordless ones?” “We don’t have any. The standard ones are plenty good.” You’ll walk out thinking, “Well, that place was quaint, but they didn’t have many options.”

During the last few years, the Orr’s Island Library Board of Directors has been thinking about what the library can offer now and how we can best serve Harpswell in the future. One word kept coming up — technology. Deciding how to use technological advances can be daunting, even threatening. However, when used properly, technology can be an exceptional tool. And it can be done while enhancing the essential character of the library.

Do you want to use our free 24-hour Wi-Fi? If that is your preference, you can.

Do you want to go online to reserve a book from our library? If that is your preference, you can.

Returning to our hardware store story, you expect the clerk not only to carry a wide variety of tools, but also to be able to explain to you how they work. The same concept applied to our search for a new librarian. It is just one reason why the library board selected Anne Wilkes from the more than 20 people who applied for the position.

As Anne puts it, libraries are part of her DNA. Both grandparents were librarians and curators at the New York City Public Library, and that love of books was passed on generationally. The Wilkes family has lived on Orr’s Island for decades and Anne now resides on the family homestead, giving her an intimate appreciation of the character of Harpswell. Anne impressed the board with the breadth of her reading interest and knowledge across all major genres, including fiction, nonfiction, young adult and children.

A new reading nook at the Orr’s Island Library. (Daniel Hoebeke photo)

As a volunteer, Anne previously spearheaded the complete digitization of the Orr’s Island Library’s resources, a required standard of the Maine State Library Association. This system upgrade also will allow reserving books online and arranging for home deliveries for our senior residents — again, if that is their preference.

Anne brings a much-needed technological expertise to the position. Library patrons still ask for assistance in selecting books, which Anne is delighted to provide. However, Anne is also equipped to help people with their day-to-day technology issues. Through our new “Borrow a Librarian” program, Anne will sit down with library patrons and help them figure out how to set up an email, resolve a cellphone issue, or navigate Word, Excel or Adobe issues.

Anne also embraces the board’s vision of increasing the library’s reach into underserved segments of the Harpswell community through expanded programming, active collaboration with other community organizations, and providing meeting space to local organizations. She plans to encourage our next generation of library patrons through monthly programs and summer activities, augmented by an enhanced library selection of award-winning literature for children and young adults.

Joanne Rogers served as librarian for 35 years and provided an outstanding foundation and legacy on which to build for the future. We will always be grateful for the leadership and passion she provided. The board recognized that her successor needed exceptional vision, coupled with technological and organizational expertise and sensitivity to the unique character of Harpswell. Anne Wilkes provides all of that, with a smile that is welcoming to all.


Isolation in Harpswell can be an issue in the winter. Think of the Orr’s Island Library as a place where you can go for a bit of respite. Scattered chairs have been replaced with comfortable seating areas where you can read or chat with friends. Browse the bookshelves, visit the used bookstore, find a few pieces on the jigsaw puzzle, or just sit quietly by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Feel free to use our public computers and printers. As with all the other technological offerings of the library, you can use them to the extent they serve your needs.

Please join us for an open house on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 3-5 p.m.

First Thursday programs will return on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

Serving Harpswell since 1905, the Orr’s Island Library has an on-site inventory of nearly 10,000 books, DVDs and audiobooks. Daniel Hoebeke is president of the library’s board.