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Allagash library celebrates 20th anniversary

ALLAGASH, Maine — Readers and supporters of the written word gathered at the Allagash Community Center on Saturday at an open house celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Faye O’Leary Hafford Library.

The library is named after longtime Allagash resident and retired teacher Faye O’Leary Hafford, 93. O’Leary Hafford now lives in Fort Kent but still makes regular treks up to the library named in her honor and continues to play an active role in its administration.

“I like the fact that it’s still here,” O’Leary Hafford said of the library, but she also expressed concern for the library’s future. “People are not using it as well as I’d like. It worries me because I wonder how long we can keep it going.”

A group of young cousins from St. John and St. Francis visit the Faye O’Leary Hafford Library in Allagash on Saturday to help celebrate the library’s 20th anniversary. Helping to mark the anniversary are, from left, Aubrey Kelly 5, Libby Jackson, 10, Lacey Jackson 4, Linsy Jackson, 12, and Braeden Kelly, 9. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

Kelly Lizotte of Allagash has been a Faye O’leary Hafford Library board member since it first opened in 1998.

Lizotte spoke with emotion at Saturday’s open house about what the library has meant to her and her family.

Now a respiratory therapist at Northern Maine Medical Center, Lizotte thanked O’Leary Hafford for proctoring exams Lizotte took while she studied to earn her degree from a university out west. Lizotte said that O’Leary Hafford also helped her two children, who are now adults, when they visited the library as youngsters.

“How big a part of their childhood was this library and was you,” Lizotte said. “There’s not a child in town I don’t think that you didn’t personally tutor and encourage and work with, including my own.”

Lizotte also presented O’Leary Hafford with a “Founders Award” plaque in her honor.

“Thank you for sharing your gift of writing,” Lizotte said. “You helped this community move into the digital age, you supplemented education. By getting us online, you helped to keep us in contact with the world; you can’t measure that stuff.”

Also at the open house, O’Leary Hafford’s daughter, Randi Jandreau, who is the president of the library, presented volunteer Carter McBreairty Jr. with a “Recognition Award” plaque. McBreairty Jr., 21, volunteers at the library during open hours.

Jandreau named Sarah Jackson, who read five books in one month, the winner of a reading contest the library held.

People from Allagash and the neighboring communities use the Faye O’Leary Hafford Library, according to Jandreau.

“We also have people come down the river who check out books before they leave town. A visitor from South Africa once checked out a book from the library, Jandreau said.

“Anybody in the world can check out books as long as they bring them back,” she said.  

Bryan Jandreau is Randi’s wife and Faye O’Leary Hafford’s son-in-law. He serves as secretary and treasurer of the library.

“The biggest contribution you can give to a library is to use it,” he said.

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