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Life of the Library » Director's Updates

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Burbank Branch Renovation Project

posted: , by Emily Levine
tags: About the Library | Director's Updates | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | News

The Burbank facility, created in 1995, is the 6th busiest library location in Maine, operating well beyond the capacity imagined twenty years ago. In order to reflect changes in how our loyal Burbank patrons use the library, to address building infrastructure issues, and to solve long-standing ergonomic challenges for library staff, PPL is undertaking a renovation to reconfigure and update the branch. We are thrilled to have the chance to provide a healthier environment for our staff and an improved experience for those who use and love the Burbank branch.

The renovation will be funded through an allocation of $255,000 from the City’s Capital Improvement Program. Scott Simons, whose firm was responsible for the 2010 Phase I renovation of the Main Library, is the project architect. You can see the current renovation drawings by clicking here for a PDF.

Once the bidding process for the project is completed this fall, the branch will be closed for six to seven months while construction takes place. We expect this closure to begin in November 2014 but look forward to updating you on the specifics and to serving you at our Main Library, Riverton, and Peaks Island locations during the Burbank closure.

And of course, we look forward to celebrating with you when we open a beautifully renovated Burbank branch!

Questions or feedback? Contact us at 871-1700, ext. 759 or librarydirector@portland.lib.me.us


FLASH book sale

posted: , by Emily Levine
tags: About the Library | Director's Updates | Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | News

Did you miss the Friends of PPL book sale last month? Don’t despair! Portland Public Library is holding a supplemental book sale on Saturday, July 26 from 9 am – noon. We’ll have more than 5,000 items to choose from, all in good condition on a wide variety of topics and many with recent publication dates. This is a great chance to add some variety to your shelves, stock up for a house-bound relative or friend, or freshen up a collection.

100% of the proceeds from the book sale benefit PPL’s collections, programs, and outreach. This is a CASH ONLY sale. Hardcovers will be $1 each, and softcovers 50 cents each. Lovers of old cassette audio books and VCR material, we’ve got some oldie-but-goodie gems in the sale for you, too, at unbeatable prices.

This CASH ONLY sale will take place at PPL’s new off-site collections management facility at 1000 Riverside Street on Saturday, July 26 from 9 am to noon. There is ample parking on site. Our friends at Maine Historical Society will be holding a tag sale that day on site as well, with the sale of donated items benefiting MHS’s education and outreach programs. We know many library fans are also history enthusiasts, so you may find some bonus treasures on Saturday. (Details at https://www.mainehistory.org/programs_events.shtml)

We look forward to seeing you! Questions about the book sale? Contact Emily at 207-871-1700 ext. 759 or levine@portland.lib.me.us


PPL partners with Maine Physician to Show Link Between Public Library Use And Tobacco Cessation

posted: , by Sarah Campbell
tags: About the Library | Director's Updates | Adults | Seniors | Health

In 2010, a highly regarded group of physicians, brain scientists, social scientists, and other experts went on record with their expert opinion that public libraries likely promote health. Now, one Maine physician, working with Portland Public Library, has just completed the first-ever direct and broad research on the topic – and proved their instincts were on the right track.

Maine physician Dr. Sam Zager was the driving force behind the Health and Libraries of Public Use Retrospective Study (HeLPURS), the first broad investigation of health and public libraries. The study investigated whether a link between library use and health could be quantifiably established. Dr. Zager’s interest in the intersection of health and public library use grew out of his involvement in library advocacy efforts in Boston several years ago. He noticed that the prior research into health and libraries was sparse and narrowly focused on health literacy. No studies existed to determine the relationship between library use and individuals’ health profiles.


Individuals who used the library moderately were nearly three times more likely to successfully quit smoking


The project results provide evidence that public library use has quantifiable associations with health, particularly in the areas of substance abuse and depression-anxiety disorders. The most dramatic finding is that moderate or higher use of public libraries is associated with tobacco cessation. Individuals who have ever been smokers and who used the library at least moderately – seven or more items checked out per active year – were nearly three times more likely to have successfully quit smoking, compared with smokers who used the library less.

“HeLPURS offers the first direct evidence that public libraries could be health-promoting spaces,” Dr. Zager says. “This was out-of-the-box thinking, but now these results beg for further research. The current findings also have important implications when estimating return on investment in public libraries in Maine and across the country.”

Dr. Zager’s sentiments are echoed by PPL Executive Director Steve Podgajny. “What the HeLPURS study doesis to clinically isolate a specific and very important health relationship that public libraries have with individuals and the community as a whole. The study has many ramifications one of which is how public libraries might serve more effectively as a vehicle for public health funding and goals.”

The HeLPURS project allied Dr. Zager with the Library’s Health and Institutional Research Teams, starting in 2012. The study, conducted in Fall 2013, was funded by a generous grant from the Anne Randolph Henry Charitable Foundation. The study recruited participants from adult Maine Medical Center Family Medicine patients. Participants who were also PPL card holders granted permission for the Library to release information on frequency of their library use for correlation by Dr. Zager and his colleagues with their medical histories. Throughout the study, all privacy laws and human research ethics protocols as well as PPL privacy policies were strictly observed, and no personal borrowing history was ever queried.

About Dr. Zager
Dr. Sam Zager is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who holds an MD from Harvard University and an M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from Oxford University. His presentation on HeLPURS won top prize at the Maine Academy of Family Physicians Annual Conference in April 2014. Dr. Zager has been a Family Medicine Resident Physician at Maine Medical Center since 2011, and he will begin practicing Family Medicine with Martin’s Point Healthcare starting in September 2014.

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