Changing of the guard at Albert Church Brown Memorial Library
by Jeanne Marquis
On Tuesday, September 8, the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, 37 Main Street, reopened after closing as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The opening will be an important step of returning back to familiarity, yet with some new changes: two new librarians, additional hours and procedures to keep the community safe.
China’s library follows the safety protocols as advised by CDC, American Library Association, and Maine State Library. The protocols are similar to what the public is already accustomed to at other public facilities. In addition to wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, visitors are requested to use hand sanitizer upon entering and limit their handling materials. There will be a limit of three patrons or a family of up to six for a 30-minute period. To help facilitate access, China’s library has added two hours on Saturdays.The new hours are Tuesday and Thursday 1 – 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
After selecting their books, visitors will experience a safe check-out procedure. Curbside pick up will continue for those who prefer to utilize that service. Books can be ordered for pickup on the Maine State Library website https://www.maine.gov/msl/ or by simply sending an email to Albert Church Brown Memorial Library at email@example.com. Returned books will be quarantined following the Maine State Library guidelines before they are returned to the shelved. These protocols are designed to maintain a safe environment so the community can continue to enjoy the library despite the pandemic.
The library itself hasn’t physically changed except for the installation of a black top circular drive out front. Inside, visitors will find the same inviting warm atmosphere of a vintage home in which each room offers a different genre of reading material. Visitors will be assisted by two new staff, Librarian Carla Gade and Assistant Librarian Miranda Perkins.
“Mary Grow, who has been our librarian for over 30 years, has just retired. She has been a wealth of knowledge for our community for all of these years. Her knowledge of the local history is astounding and she has written a number of local historical documents that will remain in our library indefinitely.”
– Tom Parent, China Library Association president
The community may know our new librarian by the books she writes under the name Carla Olson Gade. In total, she has 11 books in print. She writes inspirational romance stories, which she describes as “adventures of the heart with historical roots.” A native New Englander, many of her novels are set regionally. Carla is also a webmaster, blogger and genealogy instructor.
New Library Assistant Miranda has been a library volunteer for many years at the Albion Public Library. She is involved in her community and possesses exceptional organizational library skills. Both librarians have been busy preparing the library for the new safety protocols and learning the systems with Mary Grow. Carla and Miranda discovered their talents compliment one another and the division of responsibilities fell naturally under their preferences, but they know they have a big role to fill. Mary Grow has taken the reopening of the library as her opportunity to transition to retirement after decades of dedicated service.
Carla Gade said, “The library has Mary’s unique imprint on it. We hope to honor her legacy through thoughtful management of the library’s collections and by continuing to connect to the community in meaningful ways. I admire her greatly.”
One of the unique offerings of the library under Mary Grow that will be continued are the community events. The two librarians realize they will need to be creative to bring events to the community during Covid, but they are up to the challenge. On Sunday, September 20, the library will host Maine Memories, an afternoon of reminiscing — featuring stories from our patrons. In October, they are considering an Antiques Appraisal Fair. Information about events will appear on the library’s website at chinalibrary.org and on the Friends of China Facebook page.
A note from Tom Parent, China Library Association President:
Mary Grow, who has been our librarian for over 30 years, has just retired. She has been a wealth of knowledge for our community for all of these years. Her knowledge of the local history is astounding and she has written a number of local historical documents that will remain in our library indefinitely. Patrons to the library often asked her if they had read specific books. Mary seemed to remember what everyone had read and possibly when. Mary has been helping us make a significant transition in how we provide library services. That initiative will continue with our two new staff, Carla Gade and Miranda Perkins. Our library board of trustees and our local community will miss having Mary function as our librarian, but we’re going to select her to be on our board of trustees, so she won’t be far!
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