Yesterday, I delivered two copies of my fantasy novel Maya and the Book of Everything to the Vassalboro Public Library. One was for the library.
And one was for the director, Donna Lambert.
The Vassalboro Library is special to me for a couple of reasons. I grew up in North Vassalboro, and this library, along with the Waterville Public Library, was one of my first libraries.
However, when I was going to the Vassalboro Library, it wasn’t in this particular building. Instead, it was in a converted lake cottage that unfortunately burned down. Out of the ashes came this new library, and although it is significantly bigger than the old one, it somehow still has the cozy, welcoming feel of the converted cottage. That spirit lives on.
The other reason this library is special to me is that it is central to the story in Maya and the Book of Everything. In the novel, Maya is staying with her grandparents for the summer in East Vassalboro, and their house is within walking distance of the Vassalboro Library. It is through this library that Maya learns about the extraordinary Book of Everything, which has recently come into her possession. Maya also learns about the League of Librarians, whose job it is to protect the Book of Everything from a shadowy organization—the Association for the Preservation of Order—that is after the book.
At the Vassalboro library, I chatted for a bit with Donna, who clearly loves this library and her job. “I always look forward to coming to work,” she told me, and it shows in her bright face that Donna is happy to be right where she is.
Then I walked around the library and looked at books. For a small library, it has a wonderful collection, and while I was there, a steady flow of patrons came and went. A busy library is a happy library, and it did my heart good to see so many people coming on a Monday afternoon.
Yet again I gave thanks to the New England tradition of public libraries. Maine might be a poor rural state, but it is the rare town that doesn’t have a library. (Unfortunately, many small-town libraries struggle to receive adequate funding, but that is a topic for another post.)
I’ve written this before and no doubt I’ll write it again. In Maine, libraries are open to all, regardless of race, gender, income, and ethnicity. It doesn’t matter who your family is. With a library card, the world of ideas and story is open to even the poorest person, who might not be able to travel far but who can nonetheless, with the right book, go across the universe.
I’m sure it’s obvious that my love of libraries runs deep, and I hope to take Maya and the Book of Everything across the state to libraries great and small. Because of my history with the Vassalboro Public Library, it’s oh so appropriate that this is the first library and librarian featured with Maya and the Book of Everything.
But Bailey Public Library and Waterville Public Library, I’ve got my eye on you.