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Allagash library holds contest to encourage reading

ALLAGASH, Maine — The Faye O’Leary Hafford Library is holding a book reading contest to encourage people to put down their electronic devices and pick up as many printed books as possible.

Retired educator Faye O’Leary Hafford, 92, founded the library, which is located in the Allagash Community Center, in 1998.

O’Leary Hafford said attendance at the library has been on the decline in recent years, a fact she attributes in part to the proliferation of ebooks and electronic devices in general.

“When we look outside we don’t see children on bicycles like we used to, or running around. They have these little things in their hand; they have names for all those little machines they carry around,” she said. “When a mother puts books in a child’s hands when they are really little, that makes a good reader.”

O’Leary Hafford said she also believes adults can benefit from reading without the distraction of electronic devices.

“I think it’s good for people to read. I think it’s good for people to relax. I think the way our country is today it would be good for people to have time to relax,” she said.

The book reading contest is for people of all ages and who live in any community, not just Allagash. Contest participants will need to check out books from the Faye O’Leary Hafford Library, between now and June 20. A library volunteer will keep a record of how many books each participant checks out during the contest and at least one winner will receive a prize for reading the most books.

“We have not set the prizes yet; they will be good ones though,” O’Leary Hafford said. “We might have one prize for the youngest child and one for the oldest person, we’ll have maybe two or three prizes but we want people to read.”  

The non-profit library is run entirely by volunteers, including O’Leary Hafford, who lives in Fort Kent and visits the library to volunteer as much as possible.

Famed Maine author Stephen King helped to fund the library through The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. Throughout the years, the King Foundation also has helped to fund a new furnace and heating oil for the library, and just last year awarded the library a grant to purchase a new photocopier and several laptops.

Books at the library are available for people of all ages, and include those by contemporary authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham, and Nora Roberts. There also is a bookcase case of autobiographies and biographies and another filled with classics. O’Leary Hafford said she doesn’t like to discuss politics, but that she recently ordered the controversial book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff, for readers who may find it interesting.

O’Leary Hafford said those who visit the library are welcome to linger as long as they like.

“If they want they can go in, sit down and read the first chapter or two to see if it’s the kind of book they want to read before they check it out. We have two big chairs in there,” she said.

The Faye O’Leary Hafford Library is located in the Allagash Community Center. It is open Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons from 1-3  p.m., weather permitting.

For more information call the library at (207) 398-4454 or visit its Facebook page.

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