By Kim Brawn, Thompson Free Library

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

Marcel Proust, French Novelist

Thanksgiving is close. Quickly followed by that well-lit, well-worn path toward the winter holidays that now seems dimmer and less recognizable. As we downsize our gatherings, hunker down, ride it out, and nest, a little gratitude for simple things goes a long way. Thompson Free Library has a variety of offerings this November to make the days a little brighter, to shift your focus, and engage your mind.

Timing is everything. No matter the topic, there are sure to be interesting exchanges at TFL’s Philosophy Circle on Friday, Nov. 6 at 3:30 p.m. Undoubtedly, there will be some post-election philosophical ponderings during this online session via Zoom. Bring your curiosity, an open mind, and a desire to dig deeper into topics — in a civilized fashion, of course.

TFL’s Reading Group discusses “The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christy Lefteri online via Zoom on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. Publishers Weekly describes it as “the haunting and resonant story of Syrian war refugees undertaking a treacherous journey to possible safety” that readers will find “deeply affecting.” Prior attendance is not necessary.

Our friends at Pine Tree Hospice continue their supportive and thoughtful Caregiver and Bereavement Book Club on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Congregational Church in Dover-Foxcroft. “The Optimist’s Daughter,” a Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Eudora Welty, is this month’s selection. In-person attendance is limited to eight but via Zoom it’s unlimited.  To register, call 207-802-8078 or email; books are available at TFL.

Travel back to another tumultuous time with speaker Meadow Dibble, director of Atlantic Black Box, as The Maine Humanities Council’s World in Your Library presents “The Diseased Ship: New England Sea Captains and the Slave Trade” on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. Meadow recounts the dramatic story of a prominent Yankee sea captain, a tragedy on the high seas, a viral outbreak, a major political cover-up and a conspiracy of silence that has lasted two centuries surrounding New England’s involvement in the slave trade. The program raises issues that connect to current national conversations. “This online program will be held via Zoom and we will also be working with the Commons [at Central Hall] who will host it live on their Facebook page for those who don’t use Zoom,” said TFL’s Michelle Fagan.

Here’s a great idea: slow down, take a deep breath and join TFL in taking part in the Beanstack #ReadGrateful challenge. It’s a wonderful way for all ages to share an attitude of gratitude with those around you by starting with some gratitude-themed books (e.g., “The Thank You Book” by Mo Willems, “We May Have Enough to Share” by Richard Van Camp, “Gratitude” by Oliver Sacks, & “Wisdom of Sundays” by Oprah Winfrey.) Those who finish the challenge — 11 reading hours total — will have the chance to win a cool new journal and journaling accessories. Visit to join or stop by the library to pick up your tracking papers.

A reminder that all Mainers have access to an incredible online resource called the Digital Maine Library. Access multi-subject databases, magazines, and academic journals. Browse the expansive collection of topics including auto repair (ChiltonLibrary), health information (MedLine Plus), reading recommendations (NovelList), Culinary Arts, and Criminal Justice, to name a few. Students, teachers, job seekers, researchers, hobbyists — almost anyone — can benefit from this one-stop digital learning tool. The A-Z index is a good way to start exploring (fyi: for now, access’s library edition from home due to the pandemic).

Don’t be caught without a good book, a hunker-down essential. TFL patrons can take advantage of the cloudLibrary, a fantastic app for reading or listening to books. See our website for more details or download the cloudLibrary App at the App Store or Google Play (if you have questions, contact TFL). It’s perfect for when the library’s closed. Which is my cue to let you know that TFL will be closed on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11 and for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Nov. 27.

This year, may you notice and be thankful for the simple things. We are grateful for a bouquet of gorgeous (and hardy!) violet carnations — a recent unexpected kindness from a grateful patron. Last week a woman said to me, “Thank you for keeping us safe,” as she left the library and it felt surprisingly good to hear. Gratitude can cheer up any gloomy forecast. The sun may not come out tomorrow, but you can bet your bottom dollar, it will show up eventually. You’re welcome for that Annie earworm.

The Thompson Free Library is open with special COVID-19 precautions, Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Curbside service is also available during business hours. Wi-Fi is available 24/7 in the TFL parking lot. Find us on Instagram @tf_library.

Liam Riordan presents: “Commemorating Maine Statehood” on Oct 29 at 6 pm

Thompson Free Library and the East Sangerville Grange will host Liam Riordan, Professor of History at the University of Maine, live via Zoom on Thursday, October 29 at 6 pm for “Commemorating Maine Statehood: What Can We Learn from the Bicentennial?”

This event is free and open to the public. To participate, join the Zoom meeting online at: You can also dial in by phone at: 1-646-876-9923 with Meeting ID: 828 6676 5250

This illustrated presentation and discussion explores the statehood process in Maine that culminated in 1820 with formal separation from Massachusetts. That struggle engaged a range of challenging public issues that are still recognizable today. Commemorating statehood can help us to better understand:

  • the explosive place of slavery vis-a-vis the Maine-Missouri Crisis
  • the uncertain location of the international border and regional diversity
  • sharp partisan conflict and the “two Maines”
  • Wabanaki sovereignty

Dr. Riordan received his Ph.D. in history at the University of Pennsylvania and has been a faculty member at UMaine Orono since 1997. He is a specialist on the American Revolution with a current research emphasis on Loyalists, those who opposed the Patriot movement. He has also done extensive research and community engagement work about the Maine statehood era and its bicentennial commemoration. He helps to organize National History Day in Maine, the statewide affiliate of a national research program for grade 6-12 students.

For online state bicentennial resources, please visit:

Thompson Free Library’s Maine Bicentennial Speaker Series is supported by a Maine Bicentennial Community Grant and will explore topics and perspectives sometimes overlooked in traditional narratives of our state’s history.

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Join the Voices from HOME Oral History Project on Friday, October 23 at 6 pm for an evening of story sharing on the theme “Rise.”

You can participate via Zoom at: or call in by dialing 1-646-876-9923 with Meeting ID: 841 5380 0773

Rosa Parks said, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” Standing up for the kid being picked on during recess, marching for something you believe in, voting to let your voice be heard… We want to know: When did you rise to a challenge or rise up against injustice however large or small?

Do you have a story to tell about enlisting, resisting, or taking action for a cause? Has someone else stood up for you, or helped you rise to your potential? Will we come out of 2020 like a phoenix rising from the ashes? Maybe simply rising out of bed is a major accomplishment on bad days.

Practice a 4-8-minute TRUE story to share, or come to listen and see what rises up in you.

Kim Brawn, Thompson Free Library

Remember to put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help anyone else. That’s what flight attendants always tell us to do in case of an in-flight emergency. But don’t wait for an emergency to start practicing self-care. Taking care of yourself, especially during the pandemic, is more important than ever for physical and mental health. Reading a book or participating in an online program are simple ways to take time for yourself. This October, visit the Thompson Free Library in Dover-Foxcroft in person (with special COVID-19 precautions) and attend engaging live events via Zoom.

To get the most out of your TFL membership be sure to set up your online account through our website. It’s a great way to keep track of what materials you have out, renew them, and put items on hold. Browse the online catalog to find books to read next. If you need help setting up an account, contact the library and we can help.

TFL’s Philosophy Circle meets online via Zoom on Friday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m. for a lively discussion that delves into deeper topics and age-old questions that are still-relevant in today’s turbulent times. Prior attendance is not necessary but an open, curious mind and a willingness to listen and contribute are welcome. 

Celebrated and influential poet and Maine resident Richard Blanco’s “The Prince of Los Cocuyos” is the subject of the TFL Reading Group’s next meeting via Zoom on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. Blanco shares his experiences growing up in Miami as the gay son of Cuban immigrants. Kirkus reviews calls it a “warm, emotionally intimate memoir” (contact the library for a copy).

TFL’s Movie Club meets on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. online via Zoom to discuss Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” a 2012 coming-of-age comedy-drama set in 1965 on an island off the coast of New England where 12-year-olds Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) have fallen in love and decide to run away. The film, which has been called charming, whimsical and poignant, is filled with quirky characters played by Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. The DVD is available at the library (or contact us for more ways to watch). 

Voices from Home presents an Online Story Slam on Friday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. The theme is “Rise.” Maya Angelou’s iconic poem “And Still I Rise” leapt to mind for me but there are so many directions to take that one word. When did you rise to the occasion/challenge or rise up against injustice however large or small? Rosa Parks took a stand by taking a seat. Will we come out of 2020 like a phoenix rising from the ashes? Maybe simply rising out of bed is a major accomplishment on bad days. Practice a 4- to 8-minute true story to share. Or come and listen and see what rises up in you. 

The Maine Bicentennial Speaker Series continues Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. with UMaine history professor Liam Riordan’s “Commemorating Maine Statehood: What can we learn from the Bicentennial?” This illustrated presentation and discussion explores the statehood process in Maine that culminated in 1820 with formal separation from Massachusetts. Learn about sharp partisan conflict and the “two Maines,” as well as Wabanaki sovereignty, among other topics. 

Michelle Fagan, TFL’s youth services librarian, reminds parents and teachers to learn more about the text sets available at the library. A text set is a collection of related texts organized around a unique topic, theme, concept, or idea (such as dinosaurs; friendship & kindness; art; fairy tales, folk tales, tall tales; autumn & winter; ocean; nature; poetry; spring & summer; friendship & kindness; geography). Michelle hand-picked each book. Text sets can be checked out just like books. 

“With 24 hours or more notice we can also bundle together books on a topic or theme of your choice for you to pick up. We can also order from other libraries but please give as much notice as you can. Planning ahead — especially now — is a good thing,” Michelle says. 

“Remember to take advantage of our parent and teacher section with helpful books on behavior, education, and more,” Michelle adds, “And don’t forget we’re still offering take home crafts for kids so keep looking for those during library visits.”

Speaking of visits, please put your mask on first and come see us in person Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with special precautions in place. We want to keep everyone as safe as possible while still sharing the library’s incredible collection and services. Make TFL a fun stop on your errand route. Books are definitely a basic supply and reading is the best self-care out there. 

Curbside service is also available during business hours. For more information (including Zoom links to our free virtual public programs), visit our website, Facebook page or contact us at or 207-564-3350. WiFi is available 24/7 in the TFL parking lot. Find us on Instagram @tf_library.

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month

Kim Brawn, Thompson Free Library

September often feels bittersweet. The end of summer, back to school, seasons shifting. And this year, the intensity may leap from italics to bold. Nobody knows for sure. What I do know is that the Thompson Free Library (TFL) in Dover-Foxcroft hopes to make your September memories a little sweeter with an interesting mix of programs to entertain, engage and educate.

If you don’t have a library card, September is the perfect time to get one since it’s ALA Library Card Sign-up Month. AT TFL, SeDoMoCha and Foxcroft Academy students and educators can get free cards, as can Dover-Foxcroft residents. It’s $20/year for non-residents. What do Wonder Woman and a library card have in common? They both have superpowers! The DC Comic legend is the ALA’s sign-up ambassador and a great reminder how empowering and transformative libraries can be, especially during this global crisis. The card allows you to access ebooks and audiobooks online, place items on hold, use our interlibrary loan service, and check out materials from our expansive collection, including exciting new releases. Added bonus: we are fine-free!

Eating Better on a Budget ( returns each Thursday in September. This free 4-class online series offers skills to shop, cook and eat healthy foods while staying within your food budget. This virtual workshop, taught by nutrition professional Amanda Junkins, features recipe demonstration, budgeting activities, and time for questions throughout these fun, interactive sessions. You’ll even get a free cookbook! Two time slots will be offered for each class, choose what works best for you: 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. (Contact Greta at TFL to register and get the Zoom link).

Moving to cyberspace has not dampened the spirited discussions and contemplative conversations of TFL’s Philosophy Circle. They meet next on Friday, Sept. 4 at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom. It’s like driving without a map or GPS, you never know where you’ll end up. 

It’s not too late to participate in the Women’s Suffrage Discussion Project. “The Movement in Maine” focuses on the book “Voting Down the Rose” (about Maine suffragist Florence Brooks Whitehouse) at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Then on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 5:30 p.m. “Bringing it Home” takes a look at the local suffrage movement. 

“Mary Annis of the D-F Historical Society has done amazing research and compiled it for us,” said TFL Director Greta Schroeder. To get readings & Zoom link, please contact Greta at TFL.

TFL’s own Tom Lyford is the perfect sentimental journey tour guide. Join us online for “Bittersweet Glimpses 101: A Tom’s of Maine Scrapbook” at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10 via Zoom. Travel back through time with Tom as he shares some of his still-vivid Maine memories. “Don’t be surprised if yours come tip-toeing back too,” Tom said.

Movie Club (via Zoom) premieres Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. Since we are currently unable to show films at the library, you can watch the selected movie at home (stream it or rent the DVD from the library or elsewhere), then grab some popcorn or other tasty snack for a fun online get together to talk about the movie. First up, “What We Did On Our Holiday” a 2014 British comedy-drama that’s funny, touching and bittersweet with a terrific cast including David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly and some wonderful young actors. Contact TFL to reserve the DVD or find out how to stream online.

Ever-inventive, youth services Librarian Michelle Fagan, is bringing back Legos and Art Time — now via Zoom — at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. “On art weeks, we will have supplies for people to pick up the Friday or Tuesday before,” Michelle explained. “And on Lego weeks, people will have to supply their own Legos.” If there is enough interest, it will become a recurring program. Stay tuned to Facebook for more announcements from Ms. Michelle. The schedule so far: Legos, Sept. 16 and 30; Art, Sept. 23 — remember to pick up your art supplies beforehand.

What you did over the summer? How was it different this year? How do you feel going into the new school year? Send in a photo or a few thoughts to the online Heart of Maine Community Stories archive project ( Imagine a future “Tom Lyford” sharing your stories and pictures from 2020 at some library program in 2050. 

Visiting the library, like most places, is a different experience than it used to be but you can still check out books and movies, use free Wi-Fi and computers and ask reference questions. We are finding new ways, like online programs, to help patrons learn and escape, be creative, have fun and connect. Libraries are rising to the challenge and meeting the moment, however bittersweet those moments may be. Stay safe and hopeful. 

TFL is open — with special COVID-19 precautions — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Curbside service is also available during those hours. For more information (including how to participate in our free virtual public programs), visit our website, Facebook page or contact us at or 207-564-3350. Wi-Fi is available 24/7 in the parking lot. Find us on Instagram @tf_library.