Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Place of Connection

As an avid reader from a young age, I have always found solace, comfort, and discovery in books.

When I was a young child, my mother often discovered me in a sunny window nook with a book, and sent me outside to play. I would join neighborhood kickball games or hikes in the woods, but inevitably I returned to the back porch to read.

In elementary school I couldn't wait for the new book flyer to come out. I would select many books, but I could only choose one. My mother suggested we visit the library. It was there I discovered a world of wonder and delight, and the opportunity to go places that I might never actually see.


In high school the library was my place of connection. During my junior and senior years, it was there that I spent time with friends “studying,” though we just wanted to be with each other. It was exciting and risky, joking and laughing and whispering in low tones lest we get a stern warning.


During my college years I used the library to study and conduct research. It was a different time, before online research existed, and I used a typewriter to assemble my notes, carefully citing the books I signed out. I also discovered the special collections my university held and what a treasure trove they were.

I went to graduate school in a large city where we had to call the campus police for a ride home if we left the library after dark. There was danger outside but safety within the library’s walls. I had a work study job in a smaller library at the university, which was a place where I connected with other students and felt at home among its stacks and resources. It was also an experience that will forever connect me with the trauma of violence, since my supervisor’s husband was tragically killed.


When I became a parent for the first time, right here in South Burlington, it was our community library that connected me with other parents. When the children’s collection added a new book, the library honored the birth of a South Burlington child with a book dedicated in their honor. When my children were a little older, we would search for “their book” and read it together. I remember when my eldest son was a young elementary student fascinated by the large atlas in the library. An older gentleman connected with him and shared stories about the many places he visited while my son listened, rapt and in awe.


The solace, comfort and discovery that I have found in books has not diminished as I age. I feel transported by memoirs and my thinking is expanded by both fiction and nonfiction. I love perusing the stacks in bookstores, but it is not the same as a library. In a library, readers are connected each time a book is checked out. Who else chose this book and what led them to it? Who are these people you know only as a date due before or after you? These library conventions bind us together and create a shared history.


This is why I’m heading into my third year on the Library Board of Trustees. -DB

Monday, July 20, 2020

A Trustee's Ramble

Hello, South Burlington! Guest blogger Lee Freeman here. South Burlington’s Public Library has been soldiering through the pandemic along with everyone else, and, like many institutions and businesses, has been slowly opening to the public. We are currently open from 11 AM to 4 PM on Mondays and Fridays, and 11 AM to 6 PM on Wednesdays. The Board of Trustees and Library Director Jennifer Murray are working with the City to increase these hours as the summer progresses. I don’t want to share any secrets, but patrons may be pleased come early August! 

Interlibrary Loan will also be back soon. This has special meaning for me, as it means more Georges Simenon novels delivered to moi. A prolific French author from last century, Simenon is best known for his Inspector Maigret novels. Maigret is a sort of French Poirot (Agatha Christie’s famous detective, who, while often mistaken for being French, is proudly Belgian). Or a French Sherlock Holmes. A French Sam Spade? Nationalistic identification isn’t productive in civil discourse, so maybe it isn’t in fictive association, either. Suffice it to say, Maigret navigates the famous French bureaucracy, underworld, and sedimentarily compressed cultural strata to (usually) bring lawbreakers to justice. Considering current conversations about the nature and implementation of police enforcement, it’s interesting to read about how (a fictional) foreign police force deals with members of the public, criminal suspects, and local politicians. 

Keep reading, South Burlington! The Library is back open, and it is still awesome. Construction of the new Library/City Hall building continues apace. As the actor Adam Sandler once said, "Reading is GOOD!" -LF

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Resources on Racial Justice for All Ages

A Time of Social Change

As our state, our country and our world undergo radical shifts and abrupt upheavals, we hope to provide our patrons with resources to navigate the changes.  Below are listed several sites that include book lists and suggestions for adults and families with children of all ages. Please remember to check the South Burlington Library's Online Catalog for specific titles, and feel free to place “holds” if a title is not currently available. 

Anti-Racism Resources

 Antiracism Resources is a vast repository of books, articles, organizations to follow, podcasts, videos, film, television and movies to assist people in becoming anti-racist. They describe it as being “intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work." If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, you can start now! Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

Achieving racial justice is a marathon, not a sprint. Our work to fix what we broke and left broken isn’t done until Black folks tell us it’s done. Click here to access this resource!

Justice in June

Justice in June was compiled by Autumn Gupta with Bryanna Wallace’s oversight for the purpose of providing a starting place for individuals trying to become better allies.

Choose how much time you have each day to become more informed as step one to becoming an active ally to the black community. On this document are links to the learning resources and a schedule of what to do each day.

Embrace Race

The Embrace Race website says “as U.S. racial divisions and inequities grow sharper and more painful, the work of envisioning and creating systems of authentic racial inclusion and belonging in the United States remains work in progress. We believe that reversing the trend must begin in our homes, schools, and communities with our children’s hearts and minds.” It includes book lists and reviews of books. 

Teaching for Change

Teaching for Change, and their new initiative Social Justice Books, provide teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world.  By drawing direct connections to real world issues, Teaching for Change encourages teachers and students to question and re-think the world inside and outside their classrooms, build a more equitable, multicultural society, and become active global citizens.

Talking About Race

Talking About Race. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture recently launched Talking About Race, a new online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture.

The Conscious Kid

The Conscious Kid is an education, research and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth.  Their recent post: "It's Never too Early to Talk About Race" can be found here.

Additional Print Resources

This New York Times list of books offers titles that can help you explain racism and protest to your kids.

Black Joy Books is a website featuring books for all ages about Black joy. -KK

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Groundhog, Shadow, Repeat

There are a lot of memes on social media that feature confusion about what day it is. As someone who is still working part-time (albeit from home), I have to make an effort to know if it's, say, Thursday vs. Monday. But the days do blend together, and there is a certain Groundhog Day repetition that sets in. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon walk, dinner, TV, bedtime. On rare days, I actually leave the house for short trips in my car. (That said, I have not bought gas since mid-March.) Life goes on, but its pace and punctuation marks have changed.

Some things that have recently differentiated one day from another:

·      Curbside grocery pick-up day—woohoo
·      The lawn, newly mulched and mowed
·      Discovery of Costco Instacart—TP delivered to my door was a major victory
·      Resumption of (socially distanced) services by my dog’s groomer: my formerly shaggy puppy’s got her groove back
·      A visit to the car wash (it felt so normal to restore a much-needed shine)
·      Daffodils in full bloom, with peonies on their way
·      Snow (wait, what?!)
·      Return of the goldfinches, their cheery yellow darting through greening branches
·      laugh-out-loud article, to remind me of the restorative balm of humor
·      Weekly Zoom get-togethers with my siblings and children (“hold on a sec, you’re still muted”)

Many of us thrive on a predictable routine, but it can be equally rewarding to safely break out of one! What punctuates time for you during these semi-dystopian days? -SB

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Play Bingo To Win--a Double Layer Cotton Facemask!

Bingo Board

The Library is still closed, and it can be hard to get to the bookstore. What do you do if there is nothing to read? Take our Viral Reading Challenge and “get the reading bug!”

Look around you. Are you sure there is nothing to read? This bingo board challenges you to find something to read right where you are. We hope you will share your thoughts about what you find to read below or on the library's Facebook page. 

Library staff is also available to help you access  ebooks and audiobooks, streaming videos, classes to take, and articles to read. Contact us or visit our YouTube Channel for tutorials.
Our hope is that between the hidden gems you have at home and the extensive virtual opportunities the library offers, you will have plenty to read!

Download your own printable bingo board here! Print it, fill it out, and take a photo to send to 
sbplinfo@southburlingtonvt.gov. Or you can mail it in to South Burlington Library, 155 Dorset Street, South Burlington, Vermont 05403. If you don't have a printer, ask us to mail a paper copy to your home!

Act quickly for a chance to win a quality cotton face mask. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

National Library Week: Got Photos?

Hello Library Friends!

How are you using the South Burlington Library while our physical location is closed? Perhaps some of you are
  • Reading e-books downloaded from the Green Mountain Library Consortium
  • Taking a course through Universal Class or Learning Express
  • Fixing your car using the Chilton online library
  • Streaming movies on Kanopy
  • Scrolling through our Facebook feed
  • Cooking something delicious for our (now online) Cookbook Club
  • Enjoying Kelly’s fabulous YouTube story times
  • Filling out our “viral reading challenge” bingo board for the chance to win a face mask
  • Checking out the library’s website, or our new blog 
  • Reading a book or article in preparation for an online library discussion group
  • Sharing poetry in honor of National Poetry Month

In honor of National Library Week, which runs from April 19-26, we are asking you to give us a photo of yourself and your family, reading or doing something at home related to the library.

Please send your photo to sbplinfo@southburlingtonvt.gov. We may use your pictures on our website or other social media platforms and may include your first name.

For more information on what the library has to offer you, please visit our website.

Thanks! -SB

Movie Night, Anyone?

Get your popcorn ready and pick out a film on Kanopy – an amazing resource for indie, classic, and Credit-Free Viewing movies.
South Burlington residents with current library cards can watch 2 movies per month through Kanopy. An unlimited number of films can be streamed from Kanopy’s Credit-Free Viewing selection. This includes award-winning documentaries, classic black-and-white films, and The Great Courses series.

Kanopy Kids is also unlimited in usage, so families can spend their viewing credits elsewhere. Sesame Street, PBS Kids, and story time favorites are part of K-Kids; parental controls can also be set up for K-Kids viewing.

Some films I’m looking forward to watching:

Girls Rock! is a documentary about, well, girls who rock. Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp lets girls express their inner rock star as they choose a band, an instrument, and write an original song. Along the way they’ll be coached by indie rock artists and will eventually perform their song before an audience of over 700 people.

What We Do in the Shadows is about three vampires just trying to make their way in the world. These three are just like you and me (except for the being immortal part): they have to pay their rent and clean the house. When a 20-something hipster is turned into a vampire, the trio is tasked with showing him the ropes of never-ending life.

What Kanopy films are you looking forward to watching? Are there any you’ve viewed that you would recommend to others? -JJ

Friday, April 10, 2020

Poetry Out Loud

Decades ago, poetry and recitation were a regular part of American education. The memorization of poetry, it was thought, strengthened mental “muscles,” and exposed students to models of higher, moral thinking.

Today, for many people, exposure to poetry is rare.  I am a devotee of the poet, Mary Oliver but, despite having a line of her poetry permanently inscribed on my skin, I would be hard pressed to recite any of her other work.  The flood of information with which we are barraged on a daily basis keeps us from seeking out the quieter, slower pleasures of poetry, especially if it’s an art we’re not used to. Perhaps these strange times could offer us the necessary respite?

As one entry into the wild world of poetry, I give you Poetry Out Loud.  Partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts, state arts’ agencies and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud offers a yearly poetry recitation contest that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry, both classic and contemporary.  The competition starts in classrooms and moves to regional and state contests.  The fifty state winners then compete in Washington, D.C. where, after semi-finals and finals, third-place, runner-up and first-place finishers are chosen.  

The competition has been offered since 2005, and is supported by the Vermont Arts Council. Sadly, this year’s national competition in Washington, D.C. has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. In 2019 and in 2018, however, South Burlington High School student Vera Escaja-Heis was the Vermont winner. In 2017, Emily Friedrichsen, a freshman at CVU (and also this writer’s niece) was the state winner. Both young women should be very proud of their accomplishments.

Vera Escaja-Heis's performance can be found here. Emily Friedrichsen's performance can be found here. (Go to 7:55.) The Poetry Out Loud Website also has information about poetry anthologies and judging criteria. 

We hope you enjoy this sprinkling of Poetry Out Loud! Please post poetry--or poem titles--that you consider excellent choices for reading aloud in the comments section below. -KK

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Taking a Pause: Poetry in Times of Uncertainty

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? If the physical library were open, we would have our poetry displays up and offer fun activities like magnet poetry. Instead, we are stuck on “pause” while we watch and wait for the curve of novel coronavirus cases to flatten. 

Here are three poems to read and contemplate. If you have a favorite poem to share, please type it in to the Comments section below. Let’s fill the month with poetry! -SB

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

Monday, April 6, 2020

Be Counted: Census 2020

Have you filled out your 2020 Census form yet? I know it's hard to focus on the Census when so much of our attention is taken up with news of the Covid-19 pandemic and coping with the Stay-at-Home order. But I went online and got it done in just a few minutes last week, because I know it's important.

Why is it important? According to the Census website, things like school lunches, plans for highways, support for firefighters and families in need, and much more, depend on an accurate Census count.

It helps if you have the letter from the Census that most likely arrived at your house in March. That contains a code that identifies you. But you can fill out the Census with or without that code.  Just go to the Census website and click on the green Respond button.

You'll also find a link on the Library website. -SB

Combat the Stress of Social Distancing with Podcasts

If you haven’t heard of podcasts, or haven’t tried any before, they might become your new best friend! Entertaining and informative, podcasts are a great tool for fighting isolation and boredom. Listeners feel like they’re part of a conversation, even if the recordings were done years before.

What is a podcast exactly? Here’s a definition from thepodcasthost.com website:

A podcast is essentially a talk radio series, but on demand. This means that listeners don’t need to turn up and tune in live, but can listen any time (and pretty much anywhere) they like.

You can listen to podcasts on any device. Subscribe to podcasts or stream them online using any podcast app. The most popular platforms for listening to podcasts include the following. Click on the app's name and it will open on a new webpage.

Apple Podcasts          



There’s a podcast for virtually every area of interest, be it sports, science, history, news, or celebrity culture. These are some story- and book-related pods for various ages.

For little ones:
Calming and relaxing short stories that can be used at bedtime, or anytime kiddos need to practice mindfulness.

For bigger kids:
Vivid performances of fairy tales, classics, and original stories aimed at children who have moved past the picture-book age.

For tweens:
The 11-year-old main character of this fun mystery series is searching for his missing friends; middle-schoolers make up the voice cast.

For teens:
Creepy and atmospheric, this podcast is presented as a community radio show for the fictional desert town of Night Vale.

For adults:
Hosted by Zibby Owens, author and mother of four. Listen to conversations with writers and get the latest news on upcoming books.

Produced by the New York Public Library, this podcast features books, culture, and what to read next.

Podcasts are free, portable, and can be addictive. You become part of a group that enjoys the same listening experience; many podcasts have cult followers and hosts tour the globe to perform before live audiences. Join the fun!

What podcasts do you love listening to? -JJ

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Middle-Grade Children's Book Awards and Two Great Book Lists

The Vermont Middle-Grade Children’s Book Award List, formerly the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award or Dorothy’s List, was created to honor excellence in children's literature. Each year since 1957, Vermont students in grades four through eight have selected their favorite book from a list of 30 nominees. Voting takes place in the spring, generally beginning in April—right about now! This year, voting will happen remotely, and the voting deadline has been extended.

The voting extension is the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a few more excellent reads from the 2019–2020 list of nominees. If you need a recommendation, check out Sweep, A Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (for grades 5 and up). Fantasy, history and Jewish folklore combine into a heroic tale of a girl righting wrongs in nineteenth century London. I cheered for Nan, her chimney sweep friends and her beloved Golem.

Another favorite was Just like Jackie by Lindsay Stoddard, a Vermont author (for grades 5 and up). Set in Vermont, this is a real story about hard challenges for the main character, Jackie, a ten-year-old girl who lives with her Grandpa. Based on this story, I predict Ms. Stoddard will become a popular author for middle grade readers. You'll find the link for the 2019-2020 award nominees here.

New Nominees

We will keep you up-to-date with any voting deadlines, but almost as exciting as the announcement of the winner is the announcement of the new list of nominees. You'll find the 2020-2021 list here!  

What looks good to you from this list? Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death by Caitlin Doughty (for grades 7 and up) makes me very curious. What an intriguing title! These titles also grabbed my attention, and made it to my “read first” list: A Wolf Called Wander by Roseanne Parry (for grades 4 and up), and The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horowitz (for grades 5 and up). I’d love to hear what titles look good to you.

Nominees from both lists are available as e-books through the Green Mountain Library Consortium on the Overdrive or Libby apps. Check out the Libby tutorial on our website to learn how to use this great resource.

Remember to let us know your favorites, what you’re reading or what you’d like to read, or even what you didn’t like!  We look forward to reading your posts. -KK

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Explore What Overdrive Has to Offer!

While you’re on hold for the latest bestseller, take advantage of the thousands of titles Overdrive has to offer, with absolutely no wait times. Whether you’re into self-improvement, biographies, science fiction or mysteries, Overdrive has something for everyone.

When in Overdrive, look below the GMLC logo and click on the Collections heading. Under Ebooks and Audiobooks you will see the Available now category. There are over 38,000 ebooks and over 3,000 audiobooks available for immediate download.

Some escapist ebook reads include Blue Moon by Lee Child and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. In the mood for something a bit deeper? Give The Overstory by Richard Powers a whirl, or The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Are you or your kids Interested in listening to the newly announced 20-21 DCF titles? In Collections, look under the Audiobooks category and select New kids additions. Here you’ll find most of the books on the latest DCF list.

Why not throw caution to the wind and pick a title from the Try Something Different collection? You could Trace Your Roots: Know Your Genealogy and Explore Your Family History with author Maureen Vincent-Northam. Or perhaps tackle that mess in your closet while listening to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

The point being, there’s really no excuse to let long wait times get you down. Be an Overdrive adventurer! And please post a response telling us the best of what you discover.

Click here to get to the Green Mountain Library Consortium page. -JJ

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Let's Stay Connected

Creating this blog is one way the Library can keep in touch with users while the building is closed due to the CoVid-19 pandemic. We want your comments, responses, and input to keep the conversation about current events, books and ideas going, despite being largely confined to our homes. What are you doing to stay connected? All are welcome to participate! -SB

Sorting Rumors from Facts: How to Navigate the Web During Information Overload

According to NewsGuard, an organization that evaluates the credibility and reliability of news sources, there are well over 100 websites currently disseminating misinformation about the novel coronavirus.  These can be sorted into three types:

1. False claims about the origin of the illness
2. Phony cures
3. Items that downplay the seriousness of the pandemic

An example of a false claim might be the rumors that the virus was originally created as a bioweapon. Phony cures may be someone trying to sell something that has no data to back it up. Downplaying the virus could take the form of saying it’s “no worse than the flu” or “it’s just another type of common cold” or "it's just a hoax."

NewsGuard reports that the best defense against this type of disinformation is to take the following steps:

1. Look at the source of the information
2. See what other sources say about the subject
3. Check the date--is it current?
4. Consider the motivation

To access other information sources, you can do your own Google search. To consider the motivation, ask yourself “is someone trying to make a quick buck from this?” Never forget the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

One tool that’s available to evaluate an information source is the NewsGuard browser extension. NewsGuard provides background information about sources and their credibility. It is easy to use and is currently free to download until July 1st. NewsGuard does not censor or block any information, it simply gives it a rating as shown in the image below.

You can check out the NewsGuard add-on for yourself if you're interested.

Have you run across examples of reliable or unreliable sources of information lately? -SB