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Witherle Words

Witherle’s new library director

by Nick Berry

I often struggle with talking about myself, but I think it’s important you get to know me a little better in my own words. I am a native Mainah, originally from Livermore where my family’s name was stamped on a big sign of the local Agway, and the hill it sat upon was known as Berry Hill because that was where the Berry Hill Orchard had been. I remember my Dad’s uncle handing me a fresh apple with a smile when we would go in to get some birdseed or to get the lawnmower repaired and I would often sink my teeth into the juicy MacIntosh before we even left the store. I probably couldn’t walk half a mile in Livermore, Livermore Falls, or Jay without running into someone I was related to, as my Mom was a Paradis and we were related to all the Castonguays and St. Pierres, or someone who would ask “Hey, are you Randy’s boy?”

I grew up playing cribbage and scrabble with my grandmother, and she didn’t pull her punches. If you left her open for a fifteen she would take it. We were skunked and double-skunked so much it’s surprising we don’t still smell. She would drop words like “qi” on us like we had the vocabulary of college graduates. And we loved her for it. And we loved playing the game, which blossomed into a love of board games in general, and though we play much more complicated board games, different games with different mechanics like Dungeons and Dragons, now we still go back to the games we grew up with. I particularly enjoy cooperative games where you aren’t playing against each other necessarily but against the game itself with a shared goal.

I have spent most of my life inside my own head, thinking about dragons and knights and spaceship battles in the shapes of the clouds. I eventually started putting my imagination down on paper. I have dabbled in poetry, nonfiction memoir, contemporary fiction but now mostly write fantasy. I finished the first draft of a fantasy novel at the tail end of 2020, but don’t be looking out for it anytime soon as the monstrosity is still in the hands of my fellow writing friends for editing.

My love of libraries started at a young age, even before I could read, my parents would take us across the river to the library in Livermore Falls, Treat Memorial Library, where I would also later volunteer. I went to undergrad not far from home at the University of Maine at Farmington where I earned my BFA in creative writing, and where I realized I wanted to be a librarian after serving my apprenticeship for my degree, again at Treat Memorial. This led me to Syracuse University where I earned my Masters in Library and Information Science and interned at several branches in Syracuse.

After graduating I had a brief stint back at Treat Memorial before becoming the Director of Hartland Public Library in Hartland, Maine where I have been for the last six years. It was time to move on however, which brings me to you. I look forward to getting to know the Town of Castine and the people of Castine better. I never pictured myself living on the coast of Maine but now that I am here I couldn’t think of a better place for my feet to have led me.