The Year in Numbers

Although the term “data informed decision making” can seem quite dry and quickly lead to a glazing of the eyes for some, taking a look at the numbers can often lead to inspiration from patterns not noticed before. It is in this spirit that we share some numbers from the past year at the library.

Just over 4,000 books, audiobooks and DVD’s were circulated from our physical collection of 6,280 titles in 2018 which was an increase from the previous year. We also saw an increase in the number of registered borrowers, despite removing nearly 145 inactive accounts from our system. We enjoyed 2,017 visits from adults and children alike as they checked out books, asked reference questions or used the computers. In 2018, our ECHO pass had the most number of checkouts, followed by Celeste Ng’s book “Little Fires Everywhere” and “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Lisa See rounding out the top three. Most exciting was a record attendance of 924 of you at our programs, which ranged from Bullet Journaling, Dungeons & Dragons and the ever popular Moretown Open Mic, to collaborating as MRV Libraries and presenting events on racism, fake news and our summer reading program Libraries Rock.

In 2019, we hope to help meet the needs identified during our community engagement and continue providing opportunities for people of all ages to get together and connect. New this year we are offering “Read and Play” Fridays at the Moretown Town Hall. Starting January 25th at 10:30am, children 0-5 and their caregivers can come play big and small, then enjoy a few stories and songs to say goodbye. We are very grateful and excited that GMVS students and the Sculpture School are hard at work building furniture and toys for this program, and they may even be on hand to deliver their pieces and play with everyone on Friday, February 2nd. On Sunday, January 27th at 1:30pm, we invite you to join us to discover your tree traits. Meeting at the Moretown Recreation Fields, we will learn more about the trees that inhabit our forests and incorporate the practice of forest bathing to connect to them on this gentle nature walk. As the MRV libraries and partnering with Community Capstone Action, MRV Community Fund and the Big Picture Theater, on Tuesday January 29th at 6pm we bring a screening of the documentary  “The Hungry Heart” and a conversation about the opioid epidemic and how it manifests in our community. Our monthly Dungeons & Dragons meet-up will be happening Saturday, February 2nd at the Town Hall from 3-6pm. Finally, we welcome Paul Lesure from Green Mountain Solar on Thursday, February 7th to share what is happening with solar and energy storage in Vermont in 2019.

Looking to the year ahead, we want to continue your involvement as we plan for the future including our potential move to the Town Hall. To that end, we are offering two opportunities for interested community members to meet at the Town Hall and think about ways the library could act as an anchor in a community space. Join us on Friday February 8th at 5pm before Open Mic Night or Sunday, February 10th at 3pm for an interactive design session. We will also continue to share the results of our surveys, interviews and focus groups and welcome your feedback at any time. We hope to see you at the library soon!

Celebrating the return of light

Winter Solstice is just past and with it a celebration of the slow return of light to our days. Here at the library we have upcoming programs and new books to share some light and fun as we settle into the middle of the season.

Our popular monthly Dungeons & Dragons meetup is Saturday, December 29th from 3-6pm at the Moretown Town Hall. Both new and seasoned players are welcome to come enjoy this legendary fantasy role playing game. Bring your own character made from 5e, or play one of ours. Although it is on a break now through the end of the year, beginning in January we are moving storytime to the Moretown Town Hall on Fridays and changing the format to “read and play” with toys, crafts and of course a few books too. Finally, look for the start of our Forest Bathing series on January 13th at 1:30pm with “Discover your Tree Traits”. As with all living creatures, different trees have unique characteristics that can align with our own strengths and weaknesses. On this gentle nature walk we will learn more about the trees that inhabit our woods, and through the practice of forest bathing discover which ones we feel most connected too. This 2019 series includes a fire building workshop March 1st,  and celebrating the signs of spring in the next season.

We are also happy to welcome the light energy and helpful ways of our new assistant Anne McLuckie to the library. With a love of classic books and films, she is eager to share favorite titles and hear all about your favorites as well. Originally from Oklahoma but drawn to the northern woods, Anne has lived in Vermont for seven years. She lives with her husband and daughter in Roxbury, and is very excited about her new role in our community. Stop in on Tuesdays or Thursdays and meet her.

Two recent books added to our collection shed new light on favorite themes as well. With George R.R. Martin’s new book “Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones”, fans have something to tide them over until the next of the series comes out. Bringing the history of the Targaryens to light, the story is also accompanied by eighty new illustrations by Doug Wheatley. Inspired by a 2010 performance art piece “The Artist is Present” by Marina Abramovic, “The Museum of Modern Love” by Heather Rose focuses on film composer Arky Levin’s awakening as he spends day after day witnessing people’s reaction as they sit across from the artist making eye contact but not speaking and reveals the power of art to transform. We hope to see you at the library soon!

Reflecting and Gratitude

The leaves are gone, fall school sports have wrapped up and a quiet time has descended as we prepare to enjoy a favorite holiday gathering with friends and family and eating good food. It is a good time to pause, reflect and find gratitude where we can.

After four months of in-person interviews, an online survey and focus group meetings, we have been reflecting on all of the feedback gathered about our community and the library. We have learned that Moretowners love the rural character, central location, recreational land and the neighbors and community of our town. Some challenges for the community highlighted by participants included the broad geography, small economic base, communicating everything that is going on in town, and a lack of involvement in the community beyond the school and Town Meeting. The most shared goal across all groups was a desire for more opportunities for connection through events and a place to gather, followed by preserving our rural character, and maintaining and growing a thriving community that’s happy, healthy and economically satisfied.

When asked how the library could help our community reach these goals, participants noted that providing programming and events that bring together all ages and stages was important. Another common insight mentioned was the possibility of the library becoming a place to gather informally, and acting as an anchor in a larger flexible community space. Finally, a desire was expressed to have the library act as an information hub and share news and events happening in town through a variety of media.  All of the data collected will continue to be reviewed and used to inform our future planning, look for the full results of our community engagement on our website soon . There will also be several upcoming opportunities to meet at the Town Hall and review possible designs for the space that meet the community’s needs before a plan and budget are presented for discussion at Town Meeting in March.

Several recent titles added to our collection also focus on reflection and gratitude. “The Good Neighbor: the Life and Work of Fred Rogers” by Maxwell King highlights the many contributions to television and society by this champion of compassion, kindness and equality. And just out last week, Michelle Obama’s autobiography “Becoming” shares the path of this unique First Lady as she strives to live authentically and in service of higher ideals.

Last but not least, we find gratitude in this season for all of the community’s support. Whether from direct patronage, participation in programming, donations or tax dollars, we are privileged to provide materials and services to meet the community’s needs. Hope to see you at the library soon!


Community Engagement

After traveling this summer to Atlanta for a conference, I am reminded that spending time away from our community is always a good way to gain fresh perspective. Organized by the Colorado State Library and Colorado Library Consortium, The Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL) was a chance to gather with other librarians and learn more about data informed decision making. This grant-funded opportunity was both intensive and inspiring and will certainly help the library as we collect community feedback and plan our future programs, services and location.

To that end, we have entered the next phase of community engagement with an online survey meant to reach as many residents as possible. If you haven’t had a chance to speak in person with one of our volunteers, this is an opportunity to share your thoughts with us. You can access the survey on our website, Facebook page, Front Porch Forum or visit the library for a paper copy. The deadline for submission is September 15th. We plan to use this data along with in-depth interviews and stakeholder meetings to help inform future library design and planning, as well as share what we have learned with the community.

Settling back into our regular routines, we have some great upcoming programs for the new season. On Sunday, September 9th from 1-3pm, head out with “fun guy” and mushroom maven, John Atkinson, for a walk on the Moretown Forest trails next to the school. Explore fungi in their natural habitat and learn about this unique Kingdom of Life. All ages are encouraged, bring a basket or bag for gathering. The walk is rain or shine, so please dress for conditions. And our Moretown Open Mic Nights are back for a third season. Come share your hidden talents or cheer on your friends and neighbors as they strive to entertain. Join us at the Town Hall from 7-9pm starting Friday, September 14th and through the Fall 10/12, 11/9 and 12/14.

The MRV Libraries are also excited to host a variety of events for this year’s VT Reads title, “Bread and Roses, Too”. Vermont author Katherine Paterson shares the story of the pivotal 1912 textile mill worker strike in Lawrence, MA through the eyes of an italian-american girl and runaway boy. With a focus on the immigrant experience, labor and local history, there are many topics to investigate. Programs such as an intergenerational book discussion, the screening of a related movie, and recreating the children’s welcoming banquet from the story will be happening in late October and November. Thanks to a generous donation from the Vermont Humanities Council, all three libraries have multiple copies and we invite students and adults alike to stop in and check one out.

As we hold onto the freedom of summer for a little longer, we have a few recent titles related to travel added to our collection. “Northland : A 4,000 Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border” by Porter Fox weaves together the three years the author spent exploring the region with the fascinating early history of the area and its importance as our primary border. “What We Were Promised” by Lucy Tan follows the Zhen family as they move back to China after chasing the American Dream. Even as different characters work to reinvent themselves, the past is there waiting in this novel of class, culture and family. We hope to see you at the library soon!

Summer at the Library

The many hues of green are in place, the swimming holes are busy and and the first cut of hay is being made, so Summer must finally be on its way. With its arrival comes many opportunities from the Library to stay engaged reading, learning and being part of the community.

One of the MRV Libraries’ main attractions is the summer reading program. With a theme of “Libraries Rock!”, we have put together an exciting lineup of programs for all ages that explore music, sound, and of course rocks. Join us on Thursday, June 21st at 4pm for our kick-off event presented by the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS). “Screech and Hoot: The Science of Bird Communication” will explore the different calls of raptors as well as what they might mean, and give the chance to meet some of these talkative hawks, falcons and owls in person. Other programs include drumming, rock cairn building, origami, a musical petting zoo and many more. On Friday, July 27th at 6:30pm at American Flatbread we will wrap-up and celebrate with “Campfire Sing Along and Stories” featuring singing duo Don and Nancy. Details on all of our programs, as well as signing up for summer reading logs will be available at the libraries and on our websites soon.

Thanks to generous community volunteers, our Little Free Library is now installed outside the Moretown General Store just in time for the season. The location was voted on and the structure built last year during our summer reading program, and it is currently stocked with a variety of titles no longer needed in our collection that appeal to readers young and old. Everyone is invited to stop by and take a book, or leave behind a book that needs to be read provided it fits in the library.
June also brings us Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The Moretown and Warren libraries have teamed up with the Vermont chapter of Alzheimer’s Association to host two programs around this topic, head over to Warren for the second in our series: “The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease” on Wednesday June 20th at 7pm at the Warren Library.

Finally, we have a few good books to read during upcoming days at the river or beach. “The High Tide Club: A Novel” by Mary Kay Andrews follows an eccentric millionaire as she tries to make amends with her friends’ families with the help of small town lawyer Brooke Trappnell whose own grandmother was part of the High Tide Club. A compelling novel about what shapes a life and secrets that ripple through generations, it is sure to be a good beach read. “Our Towns : A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America” by husband and wife team James and Deborah Fallows provides their unique perspective after four years touring the country in their small plane. Including a visit to Burlington, and a shout out to public libraries’ role in small towns, this book sounds like it will bring hope and insight to its readers. Hope to see you at the library soon!

April Snow Showers Bring May Flowers?

Given our recent April weather, we are sure to be buried in May Flowers. Along with the migration of amphibians and returning birds, our forests’ spring ephemeral wildflowers will soon appear and are well worth seeking out. For those of you interested in learning more about these Signs of Spring, we have a variety of field guides including “The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont” edited by Rosalind Renfrew, and the much smaller and more portable “Wildflowers of Vermont” by Kate Carter. If you can’t wait to get out in the garden to help mother nature out, “Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots” by Sharon Lovejoy is a great guide for families. Filled with whimsical illustrations and easy instructions for gardens like “snacking and sipping” and “the flowery maze”, this book is a good escape from our current conditions.

April is also National Poetry Month, which was started in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets and is now one of the world’s largest literary celebrations. Their website gives you a plethora of ways to bring some of this art form into your life, including signing up for “poem-a-day” featuring both new and classic poetry with commentary on weekdays by the poets. On Thursday, April 26th put a poem in your pocket, carry it with you and share it with others throughout “Poem in your Pocket” day. We also have a small but interesting section of poetry including work by Rupi Kaur, Marie Howe, David Budbill, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and a great collection of local poems in “Brighten the Barn: 60th Anniversary Anthology” from the Poetry Society of Vermont.

Our upcoming Spring programs kick-off with our annual Birding by Ear workshops co-hosted with the Mad Birders. During the first interactive session indoors on Saturday, May 5th at 4pm  learn some tips and tricks for listening to and identifying our feathered friends, then head out in the early morning for our second session on Sunday, May 6th at 7:30am to practice and discover. You can also join the Mad Birders on a bonus birding by ear walk on Thursday, May 10th starting at 6:30am. On Thursday, May 17th at 6:30pm at the Moretown School our very own assistant librarian Meredith Whitney will present “Sneaky Pest: The Emerald Ash Borer”. This invasive insect has recently been confirmed here in Vermont, so come learn to identify the emerald ash borer and ash trees, recognize the signs and symptoms of the insect, and know the protocol for reporting it when/if you should find one. And join local scientist Dan Zucker for “Stephen Hawking’s Work in a Nutshell” on Sunday, May 20th at 6:30pm at the Moretown School for a lay-person’s survey of this legendary scientist’s many contributions to the fields of Physics and Cosmology. We hope to see you at the library soon!

Fake News! And How to Spot It-session 1 notes

We had an informative evening last night with MRV Libraries and Dr. Rob Williams during our first of a three part series on “Fake News! and How to Spot It”. Below are the notes from our conversation and time together:

1) What is your “go to” source(s) for “news” and why?

Christian Science Monitor
Wall Street Journal
YouTube – podcasting (Humanist, Dore)
Democracy Now
VT Digger
The Nation
BBC (3)
Daily Wire
Google News (aggregator)
New York Times (3)
NPR (5)
WDEV (5)
Valley Reporter (9)
Twitter – CNN/Jake Tapper, @jessamynwest
Boston Globe – easy to read, connex
On Point – podcast (2)
TIME mag
PBS Washington Week in Review
BOOKS/HISTORY – deep context
Paul Craig Roberts – web site
G Edward Griffin – web site
John Rappaport – web site
Russia Today (RT)
Voltaire – web site
Seven Days – weekly out of Burlington
The Bridge – out of Montpelier
The Week – in print news aggregator
Front Porch Forum
Last Week Tonight w/ John Oliver
Full Frontal w/ Samantha Bee


2) What is your biggest frustration with “news” today?

“Actors,” not Reporters
Opinions, not Facts
Infotainment, not Information
Faux Experts, not Real Experts
Real investigative journalism is rare
Offending advertisers trumps real news
One sidedness
24/7 news cycle – ferocious
Click Bait
Consolidation – 6 TNCs owning 90% of our US media content
“It’s all settled” – science as (non) reported in news outlets
Dakota Access Pipeline – CENSORSHIP
Policing of Language
The sheer amount of time it takes to be thoughtful consumer


REAL NEWS is “Storied” information that has SIX ingredients,:

1)  Recent
2)  Relevant
3)  Reliable
4)   Historically grounded (provides some context)
5)   Hegemonically hip (foregrounds power relations)
6)   Harmonious (multiple viewpoints)


The Age of Information

We live in an Age of Information. No longer resting on industrial production, our economy is now based on computerization and information technology. In some ways it has vastly improved our lives with increased access and connection; the answer to any question or ability to organize a group is seemingly at our fingertips with the swipe of a screen. In other ways, it creates disparity and leaves those without internet behind. And as the exponential growth in information continues we can get lost in the mountains of data available to us. With its free access, resources and expertise in the reference world, libraries can help close this information gap and provide guidance as we do our best to navigate these times.

Then there is “Fake News!”. Misleading or outright fictional stories as news have been around far longer than the most recent election cycle. From the War of the Worlds alien invasion radio scare in 1938, to the 2012 “Eagle Snatches Kid” hoax video created for a university class that got 17 million views in one day, or the most recent indictments of Russian nationals interfering in our electoral process through social media, fake news is made for many reasons. It has become both a common phrase and rallying cry for a variety of groups in recent times. But what exactly is it, what are its real world consequences, and how can you spot it? The MRV libraries are excited to host a series of programs facilitated by media/communications professor and consultant Rob Williams that will explore the who’s, how’s and why’s of Fake News, as well as some filters that can be applied in real time to whatever appears in your news feed.

Fake News and How to Spot It: Towards News we Can Use on Tuesday, March 27th at 7pm at the Moretown School will investigate our current information habits and look at different types of news along with an overview of the propaganda model. On Tuesday, April 3rd at 7pm at the Joslin Library, we will examine Fake News and How to Spot It: the Age of Print. Dr. Williams will take a deep dive into the five filters that explain how US news was created in the 20th Century. The series will conclude with Fake News and How to Spot It: the Age of Digital on Tuesday April 10th at 7pm at the Warren Library, which will cover five filters to help understand news created in the 21st Century. All three workshops are free and open to the public; for more details please contact any of the libraries or visit our websites.

If you prefer books instead of programs for information, stop in and check out some recent additions to our non-fiction collection. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly, we have added “Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by Kathryn Harkup. For an exploration of more recent times try, “A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea” by  Masaji Ishikawa. Or, perhaps you are ready to turn off the information stream for a bit, in which case check out “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” by Dan Harris. I Hope to see you at the library soon!

Cats in the Library

Cats in the Library
By Luci Fur Strauss, defacto kitty at the Moretown Memorial Library

It was so lovely to see many of the Valley dogs in last week’s paper, including my counterparts Sebastian and Sandy. Although you may not see me everyday, I do enjoy lounging on the library stairs from time to time to introduce myself. Of course, my favorite thing to do in the summer is to arrive unannounced in the middle of storytime at the sunflower house. Children usually shout with delight as they spot my big bushy tail and lion-like mane of fur. After a few pets and pages of the book, I like to wander to a spot nearby to sit and listen to the rest of the story.

I am certainly not the first library cat, in fact my species has been associated with libraries since Ancient Egypt. Our original job was Rodent Control Specialist, however over the years we have also brought a calming presence to our library homes and often provide comic relief as we stuff ourselves into tiny boxes, lounge on people’s open books and generally do all things cat. Perhaps my most famous counterpart is Dewey Readmore Books from Spencer, Iowa. Abandoned in the book drop as a kitten and named after the inventor of the Dewey Decimal system, Mr. Books spent the nineteen years (90 in cat) of his life as staff supervisor. There are even several books for both adults and children on Dewey, including “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” by librarian Vicki Myron. As cat enthusiasts can tell you, a simple internet search will lead you to many other great stories of cats and the joy they bring to their libraries.

While you are at the library hoping for a view of me and the possibility I might decide to greet you, I hope you will consider signing up for the workshop on Bullet Journaling for the New Year happening Sunday, January 14th at 4pm. At the intersection of a to-do list, planner and diary, bullet journaling is a creative analog space for organization. The first five people that register to attend by contacting or 496-9728 will also receive a free journal. If you are from the smaller human crowd, you might enjoy coming to a new after school book club based on movement. The first session of “Move it and READ” will take place at the library on Thursday, January 18th starting at 3pm and features the book “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds. Contact for more details or to sign up. Finally, I heartily recommend the first Moretown Open Mic of the season on Friday, January 12th at the Old Town Hall at 7pm. Although you won’t find me inside the library any time soon due to possible allergies and the busy road right out front, do come look for me some summer day, relaxing in the grass behind the library and ready to say hello.

December News

As we approach the darkest time of the year, the idea of comfort comes to mind. This is a season that brings comfort to many with its cozy clothes, woodstoves, outdoor recreation and holiday traditions. Yet moving into Winter can also create the need for comfort as many face loss, hardship and doing without in cold weather. At the library we have a variety of upcoming programs and titles to help bring some comfort and enjoyment as the nights grow longer.

In keeping with the comfort of traditions, our last Open Mic night for the season is coming up on Friday, December 8th at 7pm. This Fall’s shows have been a great collection of music, poetry, and plays, and new acts are always encouraged. Mrs. Claus will also be returning to the library for a special evening Storytime on Thursday, December 14th at 6pm. Wear your PJ’s, bring your letters for Santa and join her for Christmas stories, songs and snacks. Bringing the comfort of organization and planning to a New Year, we will be hosting a Bullet Journaling workshop on January 14th.

As a reader, If you like to snuggle in then check out “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking. Added to our collection last winter and checked out many times since, this is a short beginner’s guide to the “happiest on earth” culture’s philosophy of well-being, togetherness and comfort. Isabel Allende’s latest novel “In the Midst of Winter” begins with a car accident during a snowstorm in Brooklyn that brings together three different characters, including an undocumented immigrant and two people in the ‘winter’ of their lives. Moving from there to Guatemala and 1970’s Chile and Brazil, this would be a good choice for readers who like to escape the cold through a book. And for those who take comfort from being outdoors with their little ones at this time of year, the recent donation of “Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children” by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw shares several ideas for the upcoming season including gathering and using your own smudge sticks and handmade ornaments for a Yule Tree.

One last yet important way of enjoying comfort is sharing it with others. Giving Tuesday may have just passed, however there are still many opportunities to help others this season. In doing so, perhaps we can bring a little more comfort to our community and beyond.