I’ve lived in small towns for quite some time after moving out of Portland, Maine to get away from city life. Our first town move was to Old Orchard Beach, followed by Raymond, and then to New Gloucester. Each move meant the change of addresses, but before I even changed my drivers license, my first stop was to the library for a new resident library card. It always goes into my top priority. To date I still am an ardent supporter of libraries, the programming they do, and the ways they reach many different members of the communities in which they serve. New Gloucester is no exception to this, and yet the controversy of the library in this small town amazes me.
I moved to New Gloucester when the yellow yard signs were up asking the town at a town meeting to reject the library budget — not because they were against the library — but because the residents wanted more support for the library. At the time I wasn’t a registered voter in New Gloucester and didn’t have the opportunity to share in the participation of support.
I first had my experience at the New Gloucester Library meeting the Assistant Librarian who immediately made my son feel welcome, helped us get established with a card, and gave me helpful information upon my move here. I’ve never been disappointed. The best part about the library is it is a safe place for many, and all that come to New Gloucester. There are books, there are puzzles, and there are ample resources available in the knowledge and abilities of the staff that support it. From book recommendations, and other ways to participate such as story hours and other events.
The controversy of this little library that I love is no small thing, and in recent months has been more pronounced. Regardless of your political affiliation, religious affiliation, or social affiliation, the library is for all that step through it’s doors. Instead during the past month actions were taken by the Director of the Library who stepped outside of town policy to place a pride flag on the tax-payer funded library. I commend the Director of the Library for holding true to their personal belief, and their ability to stand up for what they believe is right. However this action is something that was outside of their role as an employee of the town, and put the library into a controversial position that it had no place being placed into.
What may not have been taken into consideration at the time was how it puts the town in a liable spot for who can and cannot request to fly flags on town buildings and town land. Is this something that New Gloucester could have potentially faced when an individual took it upon themselves to fly a flag other than that of the United States or State of Maine flag? It is precisely what Biddeford is now facing by allowing the flying of not only the pride flag, but a christian flag and POW-MIA flag. At the bequest of one for special flag flying privileges, others came forward to request their own.
The library has the power and capacity to provide books for all members of the town, and that can be done by purchasing and maintaining books for all individuals. It has the capacity to request inter-library loans for any book that an individual may need, and thus is the most inclusive it can be. There are some that feel the library in this town is amazing, and in recent months there are those who have felt disenfranchised because of the direction the library moved. I would hope that political, social, and religious motivations would be kept outside of all libraries so that individuals feel welcome and motivated to continue to support and be patrons of the library.
For further reading resources regarding our library in recent months, my prior article about the library being a great community resource, and the controversy in Biddeford, please peruse the links below:
*This is a guest post by Mikaela Nadeau. The views expressed are those of Mikaela Nadeau, and not endorsed by the New Gloucester GOP. The New Gloucester GOP supports the right of individuals to submit guest blog posts freely, and without censorship. If you are interested in sharing an article, or post please send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org