WINSLOW — With a $97,000 donation in the bank and a new youth programmer due to arrive next week, the Winslow Public Library is about to boost its offerings for the town’s children.

The library was one of two dozen organizations to receive funds from Kenneth and Shirley Eskelund’s charitable remainder trust after Shirley Eskelund passed away in October. Library director Pam Fesq Bonney said she, her co-workers and the library’s board of trustees are thrilled to have received the contribution.

Sally Morin reads to her granddaughter Piper Johnson in the children’s section at the Winslow Public Library on Tuesday. The library has recently received a donation earmarked for the children’s section. Morning Sentinel photo by Dave Leaming

“We are pretty excited,” she said. “A really good children’s program is the heart of a really good library. … This is the kind of money that is really going to let us really dream big with the children’s program.”

While she had already bookmarked a few items in her Demco library supplies catalog by Tuesday, Fesq Bonney said she wants to wait for the input of Kathleen Powers, the newly hired youth services and technology librarian, before spending a penny.

Powers is relocating to Winslow on Tuesday from William Fogg Library in Eliot. She is replacing Samantha Cote, who left in October 2018 for an opportunity at the Windham Public Library after five years in Winslow. Fesq Bonney said Powers built the children’s program up significantly during her tenure, adding weekly events to compliment the popular and longstanding story hour, including a Friday afternoon Lego club, Try It Tuesdays, monthly teen movie nights and a robotics club, which went on to compete in a national tournament last March.

“In five years, (Cote) developed a nice program that people were kind of expecting and that we’ve been without since October,” said Fesq Bonney. “It’s been really hard to fill this job, but we found a lovely woman to come in. (Powers) starts next Tuesday, and we’re very excited. She’s got lots of ideas, so I think she’s just going to take the ball and run with it. But she’s gonna put her own — I told her that, you know, this is your job and you can put your own twist on it; take it where you think you want to go. She’s also interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and things like that.”

The Winslow library put on 225 children’s and young adult programs last fiscal year, which drew between four and 10 participants each, according to Fesq Bonney. Overall, there were 2,671 registered members of the Winslow Public Library and 22,024 logged visits during that same time period.

Patrons can be seen in a wide-angle mirror inside the Winslow Public Library on Tuesday. The library has recently received a donation earmarked for the children’s section. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Fesq Bonney said that, in an effort to get more youth involvement, she called the transportation director of the former Alternative Organizational Structure 92, Shelley Phillips, and convinced her to allow bus drivers to drop kids off at the library after school.

“They were afraid the buses would be too crowded, but now they stop any time there’s a kid with a bus note that wants to come to a program,” she said. “So that’s really nice because we’re not in a convenient location, and so many parents have to work, their kids have to go to daycare, they don’t have anybody to drive them. So yeah, it’s a nice thing to be able to offer.”

Most of the kids who utilize this service are students at the Winslow Elementary School, though junior high and high school-aged students also drop by, said Fesq Bonney.

Richard Eskelund, one of Kenneth and Shirley Eskelund’s three sons who has been involved with managing their estate, said his mother was an avid patron of the Winslow Library and a former librarian herself.

“Reading was a big thing for my mom,” he said. “She lived in Winslow for 30 years and spent much of that time at the library reading. She was also a librarian at Waterville Junior High School, so she saw how a library can affect kids.”

The Eskelunds specified in a memorandum of understanding that the library will only be able to access a maximum of 6 percent of the endowment’s value annually, which Fesq Bonney said would amount to roughly $4,000-5,000 a year after a management fee to Maine Community Foundation is cut out.

“I’m not sure whether we’ll be able to take a distribution this year or if it has to sit for a year,” said Fesq Bonney. “I have to have that conversation (with MCF), and that’s happening this week. I wouldn’t be opposed to letting it sit for a year, just to give us plenty of time to think through what we really want to do with it.

“I don’t want to have it sit there and feel pressure to spend it. I want to spend it really well.”

Lego figures made by kids are on display in the children’s section of the Winslow Public Library on Tuesday. The library has recently received a donation earmarked for the children’s section. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the library had a budget of $219,151. It also has two existing endowments: one with about $50,000 of funds stemming from an Ambrose family donation and to be used for children’s programming and resources, and one from the Wayshaks, which is specifically designated for “adult print books” and has just under $200,000 in it.

Unlike those endowments, which are monitored by library staff and its board of trustees, the Eskelund one receives partial regulation from the Town of Winslow. Fesq Bonney said that she hopes the recent Eskelund donation will not impact the budget allocation the library receives from the town this year or in the future.

“The intent of any donation is to add to what you are offered, not to allow the town to pull back its support and just keep you running at your current level of operation,” she said.

The Winslow library’s allocation will be managed by the Maine Community Foundation, in compliance with the Eskelunds’ request that the money be professionally invested. Fesq Bonney said she worked hard to secure a relationship with the Maine Community Foundation, which she called the “premier investment (organization) for nonprofits in Maine.” The foundation manages the funds of over 200 nonprofits throughout the state, according to its website.

Students Maddie, left, and Emma on Tuesday made good use of the computers available in the children’s section at the Winslow Public Library. The library has recently received a donation earmarked for the children’s section. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

In total, the Eskelunds donated over $1.5 million to organizations that include the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA at the Alfond Youth Center, Humane Society Waterville Area, Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, Spectrum Generations, Waterville Historical Society, Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter and MaineGeneral. The couple also created a scholarship fund at Winslow High School.

“Mom and Dad picked these charities,” Richard Eskelund said. “Dad was so forward-thinking about this. He made the arrangements (years in advance).”

Kenneth Eskelund grew up in Winslow and attended college in Michigan, where he met Shirley Eskelund. He started a number of local businesses in his hometown, including Maine Biological Labs, a poultry vaccine business that is still in operation; Maine Poultry Service, now Teague Distributors Inc. in Fairfield; and Maine Poultry Consultants, which has “morphed into” Northeast Laboratory Services but remained in Winslow.


Meg Robbins — 861-9239
[email protected]
Twiter: @megrobbins

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