by Sara Caron | photography by Brewster Burns

Bringing modern ideas to the library

Both Lewiston and Auburn’s libraries have undergone some amazing updates and changes to their programs in the past few years.

“The best change we’ve made in recent years is eliminating late fees,” Haley Warden, Director of Engagement for the Auburn Public Library (APL), states. “We want our materials to be accessible to everyone, without obstacles. APL has also made our borrowing more flexible for customers by extending the loan period time for most items, and our drop box outside the library is now open twenty-four-seven.”

Change is afoot

Haley Warden - Director of Engagement at Auburn Public Library, Auburn Maine

Haley Warden, Director of Engagement, APL

During the pandemic, the APL expanded its wifi coverage to include its parking lot, offering free Internet access to the community even when the library is closed. In addition, the APL has partnered with Healthy Androscoggin to introduce new programming  –  including yoga and proper eating – addressing health and wellness. Another partnership with Senior College helps serve all community members, not just our senior population, by providing a speaker series that includes such topics as mental health, addiction, happiness, and local history.


Carrying on in the non-traditional way

Warden is especially excited about APL’s “Library of Things,” a collection that includes DIY kits, two telescopes, a toolkit, a ukulele, and more.

“All of the ‘Library of Things’ items can be found on the new APL website with photos and descriptions,” Warden reports. “The kits can be used for anything from hanging a picture, to helping your child with a school project. These items are checked out of the library just as a traditional book would be, and upon their return, the kits are replenished and ready for the next user to check them out.”

Lewiston Public Library (LPL) is also offering some non-traditional items for checkout. According to Katherine Webber, Interim Library Director, one of the most checked-out items is the State Park Passes which you can borrow, for free, for 24 hours. The pass allows a carload of people to enter Maine’s many beautiful state parks. LPL also has free passes to the Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor and Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, plus a 50% discount pass to the Children’s Museum in Portland.

Summer fun

The APL has created some fun events and children’s programs for the summer months. “This is the second year that the APL has had a children’s book club,” Warden says. “The 2023 summer reading selection is “We Own the Sky” by Rodman Philbrick.”

Warden is excited to report that Philbrick will be doing an in-person author talk at the library towards the end of the summer.

Entertainment is also on the agenda, with Mr. Drew and His Animals Too planning appearances at both the APL and the LPL.

Mr. Drew is very popular with library patrons, bringing a variety of unusual species for participants to interact with – including tortoises, snakes, and birds of prey.

The summer programming at APL also includes New York artist Micheal Albert, who will teach a modern pop art class. In addition, Phil the Magician will appear at the LPL to awe and astound people of every generation, and The Honey Exchange will visit, bringing honey samples and honeybees.

Both libraries offer several programs for teens and adults. With the hiring of a new Teen Librarian, Julia Rhinelander, APL is thrilled to have some new programming options for teens, which they hope to announce in the near future. The LPL continues to offer ongoing programs like teen yoga and trading card groups throughout the summer.



Katherine Webber, Interim Director at Lewiston Public Library, Lewiston Maine

Katherine Webber, Interim Library Director, LPL

APL’s efforts toward fostering social, emotional, and financial growth have prompted some terrific partnerships. Good things are happening at both libraries for adults as well, including APL hosting a consultant from the Career Center every Thursday from 1-3 pm. A partnership with Community Credit Union’s Community Cornerstones program brings Delan Fulgham, a Financial & Life Navigator, to the APL every Tuesday from 3-5 pm. In addition, APL is a foster site for the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. They have had over forty cats in temporary residences as foster animals while waiting for their forever homes. In the administrative wing, a “library cat” is a full-time fixture of the library. Guests are welcome to relax with the furry friends of the library for a little one-on-one cuddle time.

“If you can’t make it into the library, LPL is offering an Outreach Program which delivers materials to homebound people,” Webber states. “Once per month, a volunteer driver picks up bags of items from the library and brings them directly to a home or living facility for library patrons unable to travel to the library on their own. Drivers will also return any materials that the patron needs to be brought back.” This service is currently only available in Lewiston.


Looking ahead

Future plans are in the works at the LPL – ranging from line dancing and yoga, to craft projects like tie-dying and terrarium creation. They intend to offer presentations on the First Amendment, how to save money on energy bills, the basics of reading tarot cards, and how to preserve your own fruits and vegetables. Genealogy research is also offered through Ancestry. If patrons are interested in streaming services, LPL has access to streaming through Kanopy, as well as online language learning with Mango.

For those more interested in being outside, the library provides backpacks which can be borrowed for use at recreational areas such as Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary or other outdoor spaces.

It’s safe to say that our libraries have more to offer than meets the eye. Their programs inspire community involvement and self-improvement, and foster individual and community growth. It’s no wonder that our libraries, both nestled in the hearts of our two cities, bring people of all ages and backgrounds into their welcoming, warm, and beautiful brick structures. With so much to offer, there truly is something for everyone.

Lizzy Gordon of Minot with Michael Fralich and therapy dog, Mocha

Lizzy Gordon of Minot with Michael Fralich and therapy dog, Mocha


Auburn Public Library

Auburn |

Lewiston Public Library

Lewiston |