Northern Maine school library burns, bookstores raise funds

August 4, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — After a fire at an elementary school library in northern Maine destroyed its collection of books, a bookstore at the other end of the state helped replace them.

A fire on July 25 burned the library at Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville, a small community on the border with Canada, the Portland Press Herald reported Tuesday.

“The library lost a lot, but in all honesty, my heart goes out to the teachers and the years of preparation and work that they lost,” librarian Tracie Boucher told the newspaper. “It really was like losing a second home for the teachers and staff.”

Boucher reached out to the children’s book author Lynn Plourde, who has family ties to the area, and she contacted Print: A Bookstore, located 300 miles (483 kilometers) south in Portland.


Boucher gave the bookstore a wish list of about 100 books that the school most urgently wanted replaced and within 24 hours, community members had donated enough to purchase all of them.

“I think one of the biggest things about independent bookstores is we rely so much on community support and therefore I think it’s even more important that bookstores show we are investing back in our community as well,” Stephanie Heinz, children’s manager and community coordinator for the bookstore, told the newspaper. “When I heard about this opportunity I just wanted to do what we could.”

Another bookstore in Fort Kent, also located at the state’s northernmost border, is selling gift certificates to allow teachers at the school to purchase the books they need. Heidi Carter, who owns Bogan Books, told the newspaper they’ve raised $3,000 so far and the store is matching 20 cents of each dollar donated.

The author, Plourde, reflected on the network of people that came together in response to the fire.

“It’s beautiful to think of Fort Kent, on the northern tip of Maine, and think of Portland in the south, at Print, working together to support this small school and community,” she said.