2014-05-23 / Community

Library Links

Reaching beyond
By Kevin Davis

In previous columns I have written about the level of access to library services made possible by our two library locations in South Portland. Having two service points – the main library on Broadway and the branch library on Wescott Road – make access to a library fairly geographically convenient to all residents, regardless of whether they live on the eastern or western side of the city. In addition, the two locations allow us to – on a tight budget – maintain seven days a week of library services for the community.

The library and its services are not constrained by the walls of the library buildings. By this, I am not referring to the wonderful story times and other children’s activities that are held on the lawn of the main library, now that spring is solidly here and (seemingly) rapidly progressing toward summer. Nor am I referring to our fun-for-the-whole-family outdoor events such as the upcoming concert from Pan Fried Steel to be held on the lawn in June, to kick off our summer reading programs.

No, you can find the library staff out and about, throughout the community in different ways, extending the reach of the library well beyond not just our walls, but our property lines too.

Lisa Joyce and the volunteer assistants who handle the library’s outreach services division are probably our most prominent ambassadors to the outside world. Outreach services is an area of the library’s service dedicated to providing delivery of library materials to homebound members of our community – people who are not able to get to the library buildings to pick up the materials they wish to borrow. Outreach services has approximately 120 registered, active users, but the division serves – and touches the lives of – many more citizens through visits to group housing complexes in the city. In fact, one of the library’s signature programs is our monthly book discussion at Betsy Ross House. Visits from outreach services volunteers provide not only library materials but a valuable social interaction for users. If you or someone you know might benefit from this service, give Lisa a call at the main library, and she will be happy to talk with you about how it works.

After the outreach services division, our youth services librarians are the staff members who most frequently venture out into the community. Kim, Jess and Molly not only keep busy juggling their many programs at the library, but, as time allows, are invited to represent the library at events across the city. From visits to schools to talks about the summer reading program to participating in the recreation department’s Preschool in the Park and Kaler School’s Greening Day, they bring library information – and great stories – into the community. Youth services staff visit as special guest storytellers at day care centers and have been fixtures at the annual WillardFest for the past several years. If your organization provides services to children and you would like to have a story time presented by one of our librarians, please give Kim a call and talk with her about the possibilities.

Occasionally, I am able to escape from my office and get out and about in the community. From time to time, I meet with local groups to talk about the library and its services. Recently, at the invitation of City Councilor Linda Cohen, I was honored to speak to the local Lions Club. I was not only privileged to be present at a Lions meeting but, over dinner, had the opportunity to talk about the library and answer questions about what we do and how we do it.

So, while many of you may see us during your visits to either (or both!) of our library buildings, you may also encounter us out and about, throughout the community, extending the reach of our services and sharing information about the library. If the library can be of any help to your business or group, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do for you.

Kevin Davis is director of South Portland Public Library.

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