Sarah Dailey is the teen services coordinator at the Norway Public Library. She also built a Little Free Library outside the Otisfield Community Center. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Sarah Dailey grew up in a book desert.

Her hometown of Otisfield doesn’t have a public library, but after school, she frequently toured the libraries closest to her – in Norway, Paris and Casco – and a lifelong love of libraries was born.

“They’re one of those last few public places in a town where people can just go and hang out … all day if they want. They can be looking at books, or they don’t have to be,” said Dailey, 45, now the teen services coordinator at the Norway Public Library.

Last year, with the town’s blessing, Dailey built a Little Free Library outside the Otisfield Community Center, where families and avid readers can borrow a book, with 24/7 access, which she said is critical to fostering literacy in children.

“The more books that are in your home growing up, the more of a reader you’re going to be,” said Dailey.

Dailey keeps a guestbook at the miniature library. Many write notes indicating how important the project is to the local community.

“Reading is a doorway that leads to many different worlds. Adore the mini-library,” B. Hall wrote.

“What a wonderful addition to the community,” wrote Wendy Bernier.

Previously, Dailey worked as an educator at Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services in Auburn, where she found that teens really opened up to her. When Cynthia Riley, the library’s former Teen Services Coordinator passed away last year, the teen room sat dormant for a while.

“The teens who come here adored her … They really miss her, but I’m glad they’re still coming. I encourage them to tell me what they did with her,” she said.

Dailey is also the chair of the Elder Abuse Task Force, where she works with a core group of firefighters, police, caregivers and local public officials to make sure elders in Oxford Hills don’t fall through the cracks.

In addition to working with police when cases of abuse were reported, Dailey also took on projects to improve the safety of the community. One was coordinating with local fire departments to make sure all homes are well-marked with material that can be seen at night and numbered, so first responders can find them in an emergency.

“So many are not labeled or are not labeled well. It was really a good project for us to focus on,” she said.

Dailey also serves on the Western Foothill Land Trust. And, she helped to bring contradance to the Otisfield Town Hall.

“Sarah has a low-key, quiet personality but works tirelessly to affect change. I think she steps up to the plate whenever needed,” said Anne Sheehan, who has served with Dailey on the Elder Abuse Task Force and the 911 addressing committee.

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