2016-11-17 / Editorial

With a language we all understand

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by Melanie Taylor Coombs

The term “institutional memory” holds a special meaning at McArthur Library. I have been working at the library a tad over two years, although this is nothing in comparison to coworkers who have been here for seven, 10, 20 or 45 years. Yes, you read that correctly, forty-five years. What makes our longtime employees so special is not only their professionalism and expertise, but also their knowledge of the library. When were walls painted? When did we first get computers? What did the circulation desk look like?

A few months ago, I was talking with another staff member about McArthur Library’s history with music. Apparently for years, the library hosted very popular concerts on the lawn of the library. Folks would bring their lawn chairs and musicians would perform on the steps of the library. How delightful. When our founding father, Robert McArthur, envisioned the library more than 100 years ago, he saw it as an entity to support education of the local citizenry, but also as a public place to support the arts.

And it’s true, as Stevie Wonder sang, “music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.” Although opera is often generally sung in foreign tongues, the audience still understands the meaning and emotion. The recent Broadway hit “Hamilton” is resonating with all ages because the innovative music is appealing on so many different levels. And where can you borrow the CD of “Hamilton?” “Rent”? “Wicked”? At McArthur Library. We have a broad collection of music for all ages: jazz, classical, popular and everything in between.

We are pleased to continue our musical legacy this weekend. At 2 p.m. on Nov. 20 at we will host Mike Rogers for a free Sunday afternoon concert. Blind songwriter, guitarist and poet, Rogers presents scenes and characters in his life of 75 years. He has been on the road from coast to coast, New England and the Caribbean.

This one-man show is laced with Mike's wry humor and paints portraits of people "outside the circle" in song, storytelling and poetry. Sometimes edgy, sometimes gentle, his characters are all real people from his journey through life, and he places emphasis on understanding and accepting others. Mike accompanies himself on his guitar and his signature harmonica. His comfort with his audience comes from 15 years of teaching high school as well as the music business. He has been performing for more than 45 years and has recorded on more than 40 albums. He has opened for Emmy Lou Harris, Tom Rush, The Eagles, James Montgomery and others. Mike and his wife, Beverly, represented Maine and Georgia at the 1999 International Very Special Arts Conference in Los Angeles and his folk group, Salt River, represented Maine at the New England Artists Conference in 2000.

As always, events at the library are free and open to the public.

Melanie Taylor Coombs is adult services supervisor/ librarian at McArthur Public Library in Biddeford.

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