Yarmouth library wants you to check out Pokemon

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YARMOUTH — When staff at Merrill Memorial Library aren’t collecting fees for overdue books, they’re collecting Pokemon.

The library, at 215 Main St., will be holding a Pokemon Go event Aug. 15. Library staff will take patrons into town to walk around and catch Pokemon using the popular location-based interactive phone app.

“We figured it’d be a good way to connect with people,” said Nissa Flanagan, who works with system and technical services at the library. “There may be a group of people who may not be using our space and we’d love to connect with them.”

Pokemon Go uses the GPS in a mobile phone to display Pokemon characters on their phone screen over a real-time image of their surroundings. 

“I downloaded it right away out of curiosity,” Flanagan said. “I’ve been spending my lunch breaks playing Pokemon Go.”

While playing during lunch, Flanagan bumped into her co-worker, Melissa Madigan, who runs children’s and youth services at the library. Madigan was also playing the game and the two began joking about holding an event.

After realizing how popular the game is, though, they decided to make the event a reality.

“We’ve seen so many people walking around town playing so we thought it’d be a good idea,” Flanagan said.

The event will be 10-11 a.m. Monday and is for children and adults of all ages.

“We want it to be for everyone because there seems to be a broad swath of people who use it,” Flanagan said. “It seemed like a great opportunity to bring new people in.”

Madigan said the event is a great way to attract young people to the library.

“It gives us another opportunity to connect with more people, especially with teenagers and pre-teens,” she said.

As of Aug. 8, six people had signed up for the event. The plan is to take participants to Royal River Park and then to the playground at Rowe School. Flanagan and Madigan said both locations are hot spots for Pokemon.

In addition to having fun, safety is also an aspect of the event. Flanagan and Madigan said they want to teach people how to keep information such as their location private, and how to stay aware of their surroundings while walking around and playing the game.

The Pokemon Go event, while not related to books or reading, still ties in with the library’s mission of providing Yarmouth with intellectual, cultural and recreational opportunities.

“This is definitely recreational, but it also teaches people about technology and allows us to connect with people over technology,” Flanagan said. “We offer more than just books.”

Having meaningful connections with patrons is important, Flanagan said.

“Making us more available to people in any way might make us more available when they have serious research inquiries,” she said. “The relationships we build in these programs bleed into everything we do.”

Jeff Eastman, who works in technical services at the library with Flanagan, said it’s important to connect with people in a variety of ways, and it can be done through more than books. Merrill Memorial Library has a film society, offers science programming for kids, has technology support hours, and has craft tables.

“I know traditionally libraries are known for being a place for books, but now that it’s the 21st century, information comes in all forms,” Eastman said. “I tend to think of libraries as an information resource, but it just happened that for most of history, books have been the only option.”

Offering many different ways of finding and learning information is important to the library staff, because it allows them to attract a wider demographic to the library.

“We’re a town department and we’re here for all residents of Yarmouth so we’d like to offer something for everyone,” Flanagan said. “We want to do stuff our patrons want to do.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth offers many programs that are not related to books, including films, crafts, and a Pokemon Go event that will be held Aug. 15.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.