Season of Change at TFL

By Kim Brawn, Thompson Free Library

When it rains it pours. Yes, that aptly describes 2020 but I’m actually referring to the flurry of changes at the Thompson Free Library (TFL) in Dover-Foxcroft. People come and go and shift into new phases and roles that better fit their lives.

As many have known for a while now, Greta Schroeder is leaving her post as TFL’s director. Her 2.5 years at the library have been a seismic shift in reimagining and revitalizing TFL. She infused it with vibrant energy and innovative approaches. Her passion for libraries is evident in the broad range of programming she coordinated and encouraged.  She supported and inspired outreach and accessibility while including us in decision making and fostering our talents,  interests, and ideas.

The library board has hired Jon Knepp as the new director. Jon and his family have moved to Dover-Foxcroft from Alexandria, Pennsylvania. Jon has a BA in history and from Simmons University, a master of library science. He has worked at the National Archive in Waltham, Massachusetts, in the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, and in a Pennsylvania county public library. He is also familiar with Maine, having traveled “extensively from Kittery to Calais to Moosehead and loved every minute of it.”

After almost 10 years at TFL, Val Talmadge is retiring at the end of December. Val’s primary focus has been cataloguing but she wears many hats and is a friendly, capable, and compassionate presence who will be missed. She and her husband Scott are moving to Hampden.

In the spirit of collaboration and hopes for a smooth transition, Greta and Jon, worked together remotely to find Val’s replacement. Their choice is a familiar face: Alex Shaffer. Alex has been a volunteer and intern at TFL, is a Foxcroft Academy graduate and has a BA in History from the University of Southern Maine. He also worked as a student associate at USM Gorham Campus Library and was a student cartographer at the Osher Map Library. 

Val is sharing her vast, well-earned knowledge of cataloguing and other tricks of the library trade with Alex. 

Not to be outdone, after almost 20 years our own poet laureate, storyteller and renaissance man Tom Lyford, is retiring. It’s hard to imagine TFL without him, thankfully we won’t have to since he plans to volunteer and be involved in various library projects. His last day on the job is Dec. 18. I look forward to an unmasked Tom of the future who regals us with his tall but true tales once again. Name a topic, he has a story.

I think it’s a good sign that Alex was a volunteer who wanted to work here, Tom is a longtime employee who wants to volunteer here and that Greta will show Jon the ropes as they overlap for a short time. Faces (what we can see of them) may be changing, but the commitment to our patrons and our community stays as strong as ever. 

Despite all these changes, and the surging pandemic, it is still the holiday season. 

Don’t miss out on TFL’s Christmas Decoration Scavenger Hunt for Kids. Scavenger lists are available at the library until Friday, Dec. 18. “Completing the hunt can earn a free Christmas book that you can pick up during library hours until Dec. 23 at 5 p.m.,” says Youth Services Librarian Michelle Fagan.

This year, Michelle has created a smaller scale winter wonderland of holiday books and DVDs that we keep replenished. It’s an easy way to give yourself a little Christmas cheer. 

Daily life carefully marches on so when you need to use a computer, print, copy, scan or fax, TFL is a great resource. We are currently open to the public, with special COVID-19 precautions, Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. We also offer curbside service during business hours and Wi-Fi is available 24/7 in the parking lot.

Goodbyes are rarely easy. And it’s really hard right now without the hugs or parties or all the usual send-offs, but as with everything else, we can be creative and show we care in other ways. We will make up for lost time soon. Before the credits roll, I’ll channel Carol Burnett, “I’m so glad we’ve had this time together…seems we just got started and before you know it comes the time we have to say, So Long.” (Tugs on ear…I’m not crying, you’re crying.)

Please note: TFL will be closed Christmas Day (Friday, Dec. 25) and New Year’s Day (Friday, Jan. 1). Stay safe and Happy Holidays. Let’s all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.