’Round Town


Wed, 03/27/2024 - 7:15am

    One of the most challenging photographs for me to make is of another photographer. They know too much and often are better informed re: the craft than I am. And, often they are on the back side of a camera for the same reason I am – not wild about being photographed! It’s not a coincidence that I prefer to be the clickster more than the clickee!

    Although Joanna Breen is a very skilled director of Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, she is also a classically trained photographer with design and creative skills in abundance. Joanna did not set out from age 12 to do library work. She, like others among us, present company included, tried on many hats, experiencing many things.

    Joanna attended the College of Sante Fe, in New Mexico. This was a very artsy institution which no longer exists. Eventually it was renamed The Sante Fe College of Art and Design, closing in 2018, citing financial challenges and changing times. However, during her attendance at the college Joanna had some real life-changing experiences which helped her eventual interest in library work.

    One such experience, as a Documentary Studies enrollee, offered Joanna what I would consider the chance of a lifetime as an intern at Beaumont Newhall Library, an archive of books and writings devoted to the history and development of photography. Joanna spent much time  at the center acquiring all sorts of new knowledge and experience, rubbing elbows with gifted and prominent artists of the era. Her interest in books, study and writing began to form and she developed a deepening appreciation for what would become her future service.

    Along the way and after college, Joanna explored a  bit. She interned at the National Park Service in Death Valley, waitressed, worked at the Iris Network  for the blind and visually impaired, and more. Throughout a multitude of interests and experience, Joanna gained interest in library service, pursuing a master’s of Library Information Science at Simmons College, a highly regarded institution in Massachusetts. In 2015 she started work at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library and has been director for seven years.

    Joanna has a special feel for what a free public library can mean to a community and has worked toward offering many services with particular interest in children’s activities and empowerment. Programs available to local children and families abound. “Stuffy Sleepovers” for stuffed animals, Lego club, chess club, and computer coding, are some young-focused activities. Adult activities also play a big part in the library community with “Stitch Craft Club,” fax service, form application assistance, and, in general, help of all sorts for anyone seeking assistance with the less familiar. There are three part-time employees, three full-time and 22 volunteers additionally involved. The library is a gift that keeps on giving! 

    Not to mention 30,000 books in circulation, a 20,000-book collection with expanded access to the “Minerva Consortium,” a link to other library resources.

    At the end of the day Joanna strongly supports a philosophy of helping people with life work. The library is geographically at the center of the region community but more than that, it is a place anyone can access and benefit from a diverse and important source of information. If you haven’t visited Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, it’s time you did. It’s never too late to expand your horizons and add some fuel to the learning fire. The staff is there to help.