If you haven’t already seen the news, yesterday Michelle Dyer-Fagan was named the Maine Library Association’s 2024 Librarian of the Year! If you’re reading this, chances are you know Michelle and how wonderful she is!  She works tirelessly as the Youth Services Librarian at the library and is part of so many other wonderful things going on in Dover-Foxcroft. In the broader library world, she also serves as the Chair of the Maine Library Advisory Council.

She is known throughout the state for her work and this recognition comes as no surprise to anyone who knows her!

Congratulations, Michelle, you’ve earned it! We’re all very proud to work with you and we know all of our patrons are extremely grateful for all you have done for our town, region, and state during the last 17 years!

We are happy to announce the launch of our Read and Feed Program on June 5. The Read and Feed Program will be a combination of bookmobile and mobile food distribution, which was made possible through funding from Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Community Driven Strategies (CDS) to End Hunger Initiative. TFL is also partnering with Rowell’s Garage, who will rent us a van, and Piscataquis Regional Food Center, who will provide us with produce to distribute for the program.

Michelle Fagan, our Youth Services Librarian, will travel around the area distributing free books and produce at designated stops once a week on Wednesdays from June 5 until September 25. At each stop, visitors can select produce sourced from many of PRFC’s partner organizations, including local farms. They will also be able to choose from books for all ages with the understanding that if you love a book, keep it, if not, bring it back so others can enjoy it. Visitors will also be able to connect to the internet thanks to our mobile hotspot, and meet and interact with some of their neighbors and learn more about what the library offers.

The Read and Feed Program will alternate between two routes, beginning with the Monson-Dover route on June 5th, visiting the Monson town office from 9:00-10:15 a.m., followed by visits in Dover-Foxcroft: corner of Morton and Autumn Avenues from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Country Meadows Apartments on Pine St. from 1:00-2:15 p.m., North View Apartments on Summer St. from 2:45-4:00 p.m., and Thayer Parkway on Park St. from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

On June 12, Michelle will visit our neighbors to the east, stopping at the Charleston Church on Main Rd. in Charleston from 9-10:30 a.m., Sebec Corner Grange Shop at the corner of Milo Road and Sebec Village Road in Sebec from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Elaine’s Bakery on Main St. in Milo from 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m., and the Sebec Reading Room on Moulton Hill Rd. in Sebec from 3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

The CDS Strategies to End Hunger Initiative has three main goals for the charitable food network: reaching people where they are, reducing stigma around using the resources in your community, and addressing transportation barriers. All of these are major issues in our area, and the Read and Feed Program addresses all of them by bringing fresh produce into new communities and areas. It also allows us to fulfill one of our major dreams: to bring a bookmobile to the county!

We hope to see you out on the road this year! Thanks again to all our partners, funders, and patrons who have made this project possible. For more information and schedules, head to www.thompsonfreelibrary.com/readandfeed, call us at (207)564-3350, or stop in at 186 E. Main Street in Dover-Foxcroft.

By Jon Knepp, Director, Thompson Free Library

The digital archive maintained by the Thompson Free Library and the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society (found at: www.doverfoxcroft.advantage-preservation.com) is a tremendous resource for our community! And now, we are looking for help to make it even better by rescanning the Piscataquis Observer collection between 1921 and 1986. Because of badly damaged microfilm, you cannot search through the paper for names, towns, or really anything. Through donors willing to sponsor a year of the Observer for $100, we can redigitize these vital pieces of our county’s history and make them fully searchable for local historians, geneaologists, families and anyone who wants to research the rich history of our wonderful county! Donations are accepted by mail via check, in-person at the library via cash, card, or check, or online via credit, debit, or PayPal using the button below:



The archive was created to house all of the FA yearbooks (1940-2021) as well as all of the county’s newspapers from 1838 to 2019. Unfortunately, when the archive was created, it was made with a well-used, very scratched copy of microfilm. When scanned, entire lines went missing. e’s scanned in as c’s or vice versa. You can read the images, but searching is useless. Even The Piscataquis Observer itself became “The Piscatarus Qhseg ‘et.”

Starting with the 1987 paper, the Observer became the Observer again. The film was undamaged and you can once again search for anything through the search bar! Having worked in digitization projects for 17 years, I was always frustrated with the low quality of the searchable text in the archive and have always wanted to improve it! There just wasn’t an easy way until now. Recently, the historical society uncovered completely untouched microfilm, which, if rescanned and used to replace the current digital versions, will mean the text is searchable, making historical research much easier and more accessible. No more leafing through pages of the Observer to find an obituary. The search bar will lead you right to it!

Unfortunately, rescanning will be costly! By sponsoring the cost of a year’s digitization for $100, we can all work together to preserve this resource and make it accessible! Purchase the birth year of you or a relative, your anniversary, your class at FA. Any reason is a good reason to help out your community! For more information, reach out at 564-3350, email director@thompsonfreelibrary.org, or stop in and chat about it at 186 E. Main St. Dover-Foxcroft, Maine 04426.

By Kim Brawn, Thompson Free Library

You know that moment in May when you look out the window or glance around on your walk and all of a sudden everything is green again? The shift is palpable and welcome. 

That’s kind of how it’s been since news broke about the late Paula Willoughby’s generous donation to the Thompson Free Library in Dover-Foxcroft that will allow residents of Piscataquis and Penobscot Counties to get free library cards. We’ve been busy signing people up. They’re excited and grateful—so are we.

Because we’ve had a few questions and a lot of interest in her story, we wanted to share more about Paula who passed away in Sedona, Arizona in November of 2021.

Following her time in the Marine Corps, the UMaine graduate worked for Stouffer’s in the 1980s when frozen meals like Lean Cuisine were first introduced. Later she put her artistic skills to good use as an interior decorator.

After moving to San Luis Obispo, California, she met her future husband Louis Harper, a professor at Cal Poly, who would go anywhere Paula wanted as long as he had a book to read. Paula was an avid reader and collector of cookbooks and an excellent cook in her own right.

In addition to pursuing her passions far and wide, Paula kept in touch with her Maine roots. Her sister Sally Nuite, who lives in Sangerville, was an elementary school teacher in Dexter for many years. Sally’s husband, Bradley, who passed away in 2004, was an avid reader of history.

Paula made frequent trips to the area, often staying with Bradley’s sister, Barbara Lockwood, and her husband Dave. Barbara started working at the Thompson Free Library in 1979 and has been a part of the TFL family ever since, as a librarian, volunteer, patron, and friend to all! She is currently a member of the library’s association and her daughter Amanda Maddocks is on the library’s Executive Committee.

Love for the Thompson Free Library shines through in every member of Paula’s extended family, so it is fitting that she left this generous gift to the library in memory of her brother-in-law Bradley.

Now even more people will become involved with TFL and get to experience great programs like our May lineup.

Multi-talented Gale Robinson of Leaves and Blooms Greenhouse and Dover Cove Farmers’ Market fame guides us through a fun, easy project at “Rock Painting 101” on Thursday, May 9 at 1:30 p.m. The finished lady bug design will make for great home or garden décor. (All supplies provided.)

At 6 p.m. on May 9 the TFL Reading Group discusses Akin by Emma Donoghue. The Sydney Morning Herald calls the book “a deceptively deep, character-driven novel more about people and place than plot. The writing, humour and humanity will remain with you, as will the questions it asks.” (Copies available at TFL).

It’s salmon season again at the library! May 10-17 we’ll have a tank of live juvenile Atlantic salmon as part of our collaboration with the Atlantic Salmon Foundation (ASF) on Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m. for the “Penobscot River Restoration Book Reading &  Discussion Panel.” Hear from people who played a central role in the biggest dam removal project in Maine history. Authors from the Penobscot Indian Nation, Penobscot River Restoration Project, The Nature Conservancy, and ASF will read excerpts from the book From the Mountains to the Sea (available at TFL) that profiled this transformational project. They’ll also answer your questions about its enduring impact and benefits for fish, wildlife, and communities in Maine and around the world. 

Suddenly, we’re having a Ten Cent Book Sale! TFL’s basement will be overflowing with great deals May 30-June 1 (Thurs. 11-6, Fri. 9-5, Sat. 9-12:30).

TFL’s Story Slam is on the road again, this time to Vail’s Custom Cakes & Icelandic Bakery at 920 West Main in D-F on Friday, May 31 at 6 p.m. The theme is “All of a sudden.” Life is full of twists and turns, and everyone has had those “all of a sudden” moments—devastating, delightful, confusing, overwhelming—so please come and share yours with us. (Coffee, tea and pastries, will be provided.)

May promises to be high energy at the library with lots to do and see. We welcome our new patrons and hope you return often. Thanks to a wonderful web of family ties more people will access TFL’s amazing collection and programming. The positive ripple effect from Paula Willoughby’s gift will be felt far and wide. 

TFL hours: Tues & Thurs 9-7, Weds & Fri 9-5, & Sat 9-1. Visit our website: thompsonfreelibrary.org, our Facebook page, Instagram @tf_library, or contact us at thompsonfreelibrary@gmail.com or 207/564-3350. All programs are free & open to the public.

Because we’ve had a few questions and a lot of interest in her story, we wanted to share some more about Paula Willoughby, whose generous donation is making it possible for non-residents to receive library cards free of charge!

Following her time in the Marine Corps, she worked for Stouffer’s in the 1980’s when frozen meals were first being introduced.  Paula worked at researching and developing products such as Lean Cuisine.  Later she changed her career to interior decorator where she could use her artistic skills in home designing.

After moving to San Luis Obispo, California, she met her future husband Louis Harper through a Marine friend.  Lou was a professor of agronomy at California Polytechnic University who would go anywhere Paula wanted as long as he had a book to read.  This brought about another change in career as a caterer at that school.  Paula, an avid reader and collector of cookbooks, was an excellent cook in her own right.  After Lou’s death she moved to Arizona where she enjoyed time with friends.

In addition to pursuing her passions far and wide, Paula kept in touch with her Maine roots. Her sister Sally Nuite, who lives in Sangerville, was an elementary school teacher in Dexter for many years. Sally’s husband, Bradley, who passed away in 2004, was an avid reader of history, both fiction and non-fiction. Bradley also graduated from UMaine and was a well-known dairy farmer in the area. 

Paula made frequent trips to the area, often staying with Bradley’s sister, Barbara Lockwood, and her husband Dave. Barbara started working at the Thompson Free Library in 1979 and has been a part of the TFL family ever since, as a librarian, volunteer, patron, and friend to all! She is currently on the library’s association and her daughter Amanda Maddocks is a member of the library’s Executive Committee.

Love for the Thompson Free Library shines through in every member of Paula’s extended family, so it is fitting that Paula left this generous gift to the library in her will in memory of her brother-in-law Bradley. Paula passed away in Sedona, Arizona in November of 2021.