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About That Award...

First Lady Laura Bush Recognizes Skidompha Among Top Ten Museums and Libraries at White House Ceremony

Every year, lobster lovers flock to the picturesque town of Damariscotta, Maine, and the beautiful Pemaquid Peninsula—a vacation destination whose population fluctuates between 9,000 people in the winter and 14,000 people in the summer. The Skidompha Library meets the challenge of engaging year-round residents and seasonal visitors alike with its varied programming and 30,000 titles in a new, state-of-the-art building.

For elementary to high school students, there is the Books in Motion (BIM) initiative. BIM is a community reading program designed to address the sobering data that shows children often stop reading about the time they reach middle school. Each month, a different book is read, and local businesses pay for a copy of the book to be given to the first 40 BIM participants. At the end of the month, the movie based on the chosen book is screened, free of charge, for members of the Damariscotta community. Following the movie, a discussion involving people of all ages is held to compare the book to the film.

With a large population of citizens over age 65, the Skidompha Library realized that special programming and initiatives were needed to serve the retired community of Damariscotta. A classic film series was initiated by library volunteers and runs every Monday night, drawing crowds of senior citizens and younger patrons alike. The library also offers large-print and audio books, which are available to all patrons, including seniors and anyone with sight impairments.

The library helps connect readers to materials, but it is also a place for those who are not proficient readers to meet and learn to read. Literacy Circle is an adult literacy class offered in collaboration with the Tri-County Literacy Volunteers. The volunteers meet with the learners and utilize different teaching aids, such as Scrabble tiles, to help further their reading skills. To respect learners’ privacy, the program is held at the library after hours.

To remain continually connected to readers and supplement its finances, the Skidompha Library also runs the Second Hand Book Shop. Operated out of a 19th-century carriage house a block from the library, and staffed by 40 volunteers, the bookshop sells donated books at discounted prices. In fact, it is not uncommon for a customer to purchase a book from the shop and then donate it back to the shop for another person’s enjoyment. The Second Hand Book Shop brings in approximately $50,000 annually, which helps to support myriad programs offered by the Skidompha Library each year.

The Skidompha Library may serve a relatively small population in Maine, but through its innovative and thoughtful programming, it has made a name for itself as one of the best public libraries in the state.

"The Skidompha Library is an outstanding library that serves not only as a center of learning, but as a gathering place for residents in the Damariscotta region,” said U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME). "I commend the librarians, administrators, volunteers, and patrons of the library for their hard work to make the Skidompha Library worthy of this prestigious honor.”

"With its rich history and invaluable service to the communities of Damariscotta, Newcastle, Nobleboro and the greater Pemaquid Peninsula, the Skidompha Library greatly deserves this distinguished award,” U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) said. "For over 100 years, this ‘Library with the Curious Name’ has encouraged literary appreciation for generations of Mainers and continues to provide superior educational programs and inspire community involvement for readers of all ages. I am thrilled that this unique and historic Maine library has received such a prestigious national distinction and am enthusiastic for the next one hundred years of inspired reading at Skidompha Library.”

"Skidompha Library’s contributions to this community are as creative, diverse, scholarly and fun-loving as its history. For over a century, the people who gave this institution its name, its books, its buildings and its ideals have enriched our lives, and brought this community together. It is no wonder that Skidompha has been awarded this prestigious award,” stated U.S. Representative Tom Allen (D-ME-01).

Left to right: Mrs. Laura Bush, Director Pamela Gormley, community member Jody L. Armstrong, and IMLS Director Anne Radice.

Hometown Library Provides Port in a Storm for Library Student

Right before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Jody Lynn Armstrong, her husband, and their three cats evacuated Gulfport, Mississippi for Damariscotta, Maine, Armstrong’s hometown. They found abundant support at the town’s Skidompha Library, where they were able to maintain e-mail contact with employers, schools, family, and friends, and fax urgent information to insurance companies. Library staff continued to offer moral support to Armstrong, who found an apartment across the street from the library after her husband, a Navy lieutenant, returned to the Gulf Coast. Armstrong, who had withdrawn from library science school due to the hurricane, began working as a volunteer in the children’s section.

Eventually, she was hired to fill in for the youth services librarian while pursuing her degree online. The library staff supported her classroom work by giving her the opportunity to order, catalog, and weed out books; run the children’s department; and delve into genealogical work.

"I couldn’t have continued to pursue my college degree without support from the library,” said Armstrong, adding that she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Library and Information Science in May. "It was a mutually giving and receiving relationship. It reinforced my love for libraries and my decision to pursue libraries as a career.”