Our take: Helping the library after the fire shows there is only one Maine


We often hear that there are two Maines: a prosperous one that begins in the south and extends to the coast, and a poorer cousin to the north and west.

The theory does not stand up to scrutiny – many Mainers in the south are struggling to get by, and a lot of economic vitality exists in the north. But the concept of the Two Maines is a standard feature of our political discourse, a wedge that separates a group of Mainers from others who are very similar to them, even if they live in another part of the state.

Stephanie Heinz, children’s book manager and community coordinator at Print: A Bookstore, holds books that were donated to replace those lost in last week’s fire at Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville. Ben McCanna / Personal Photographer

In an age where there are so many signs of division, it’s good to remember that the map is correct: there is only one Maine, and sometimes the whole state can look like a small town.

As is too often the case, this sense of oneness follows a disaster.

On July 25, Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville was burnt down. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the building was a total loss, including its 9,500-volume library, a collection that had been patiently put together by librarians and teachers over the years.

School librarian Tracie Boucher contacted children’s book author Lynn Plourde, who lives in Winthrop but has family ties to Aroostook County and has visited the school a few times, to see if she could donate. some of his books.

Plourde said she could, and then she did more. She spread the word among other authors and among booksellers and publishers, making them aware of the need.

The response was swift and sure. On Monday, Print, a Portland bookstore, posted on its website a “wish list” of the most needed titles, which had been compiled by Boucher, and urged customers to purchase books for the school. By Wednesday morning, all the books on the list had been purchased and the bookstore was only accepting donations for the library.

Another bookstore, Bogan Books in Fort Kent, was selling $ 20 gift certificates (which can be purchased online) which will be given to teachers to replace materials lost in the blaze.

The way people reacted to the Dr. Levesque School fire should sound familiar – it’s how the people of Maine are supposed to react when disaster strikes in their community. It’s just that this time the boundaries of the community are drawn more broadly.

You don’t have to live in the northern tip of Maine to understand how important an elementary school is to children and their families, as well as to the teachers and staff who work there. A library that can put correct the right book in the hands of a child correct the right time in their development is as important in a city like Portland as it is in a town as small as Frenchville (1,000 inhabitants).

Plourde, Print and all the others who mobilized this week should remind us of something very important: there is really only one Maine.

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