Despite forecasts of heavy rain and wind, 14 island librarians and board members braved the elements and visited the libraries on North Haven and Vinalhaven on Oct. 2. Luckily, the weather held, and the librarians were treated to an excellent and information-filled day.
Getting around on the islands produced a large community effort. On North Haven and Vinalhaven, people volunteered time and cars to get the librarians between the school and town libraries, and Foy Brown interrupted his normal lunch hour to transport the librarians across the Fox Islands Thoroughfare. In another show of hospitality, both town libraries provided goodies and beverages for the librarians.
In an informal lunch meeting held in the Vinalhaven Library, the librarians discussed the future of the Maine Island Library Association. The librarians decided to continue meeting and taking their fun- and information-filled trips to island libraries. Funding is a hot topic because the MBNA Library Grants Program is now defunct. Despite losing this important funding source, the librarians all praised MBNA for its long commitment to the island libraries.
Nancy Jordan of Long Island said that years ago, before MBNA started the Library Grants program, most island libraries were far behind their mainland peers. Largely because of MBNA funding, Jordan said, island libraries are among the best in the state, as evidenced by the Maine Public Library Statistics for fiscal year 2005.
The report, published by the Maine State Library this past August, puts many island libraries in the top ten per capita for program attendance, library visits, total print collection and total circulation. Other evidence of MBNA support was in the physical buildings on Vinalhaven and North Haven. The North Haven Community Library had an extensive renovation completed almost 4 years ago, and the Vinalhaven Public Library is currently undergoing an expansion that will almost double the amount of shelf space. The Vinalhaven School Library also received collection development funds from MBNA when it moved into its new facility four years ago.
Although the Penobscot Bay Island Library Tour originally included Islesboro, that segment of the trip had to be cancelled when the scheduled transportation couldn’t run because of high winds. The librarians are however, determined to visit all the island libraries in upcoming tours, and a visit to the Monhegan Memorial Library is planned for the fall of 2007.