Maine’s first electric bookmobile visits Orr’s Island Library. The vehicle dishes out books and DVDs at multiple locations in Harpswell on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Kuplink! Kuplank! Kuplunk!
It’s blueberry picking time in Maine! And while the summer season got off to a soggy start this year, blueberry fans can get a dose of the illustrated variety at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick regardless of the weather. An incredible exhibit of original work from children’s book author and illustrator Robert McCloskey is free and open to the public. Featuring velvety inked pages from his enduring title “Blueberries for Sal” (1948), rare sketches from “Make Way for Ducklings” (1941) that are on public display for the last time because of their extreme fragility, full-color paintings from “Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man” (1963), and others, this exhibit has been thrilling visitors since June.
McCloskey, a Caldecott-winning artist and writer originally from Ohio, was particularly well known for his iconic depictions of Maine, and these are in full evidence here. In a charming 19-minute documentary from 1964, available at tinyurl.com/mccloskeydoc, McCloskey explains that he based many of his illustrations on people and places he knew well: his family’s home on Outer Scott Island in Penobscot Bay is a location of “One Morning in Maine,” for example; and his wife, Peg, and daughters, Sally and Jane, served as real-life models for a number of his characters, including the mother and daughter who go blueberry picking and meet a mother bear and her cub doing the same thing in “Blueberries for Sal.” The real-life grounding of these illustrations helps evoke recognition and familiarity among his readers and viewers. Those who have attended library events this summer have even had the chance to meet Sally and Jane, both of whom are Maine residents, in person.
Moreover, the exhibit is almost guaranteed to evoke nostalgia. While I was born and raised in New York City, McCloskey’s New England books were read to me on repeat. And I, in turn, read these same books to my son. So gazing up at artist Patrick Corrigan’s wonderfully rendered outsize version of the mama bear and her cub from “Blueberries for Sal” in the stairway of the library never fails to cause a lump in my throat. Similar sentiments are repeatedly noted in the exhibit’s guest books. “Robert McCloskey: The Art of Wonder” is running through October and is well worth a special trip.
For Harpswellians staying closer to home, however, Curtis Memorial Library has recently debuted Maine’s first electric bookmobile, and it will be coming to a location near you. In fact, you may already have seen it.
For the last month, the Curtis Bookmobile, ably operated by Outreach Librarian Jamie Dacyczyn, has been stopping by the Orr’s Island Library and Cundy’s Harbor Library on Wednesdays, when these branches are closed. On Thursdays, Jamie’s alternately been parking at the Harpswell Town Office and Mitchell Field, as well as at events like the bandstand concert series.
The bookmobile is well outfitted with Wi-Fi and books and DVDs for all ages, and even provides Brunswick and Harpswell residents — both year-round and seasonal — with the ability to return books or sign up for a library card on the spot. In addition, in order to best serve our communities, a bookmobile request form allows library patrons to weigh in on future stops. There’s never been a more exciting time to join the library, and now the library will come to you! View the schedule and suggest a stop at curtislibrary.com/bookmobile.
Curtis Memorial Library provides free library cards to Harpswell residents, year-round and seasonal. Lisa Botshon, a professor of English at the University of Maine at Augusta, chairs the library’s board of directors.
“Library Connections” is a monthly column that rotates among the three libraries serving Harpswell: Cundy’s Harbor, Orr’s Island and Curtis Memorial.