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.

November News

A favorite holiday is approaching. Traditionally there are no presents or candy involved, instead it is a time to gather with friends and family and eat good food. The name literally means the chance to share appreciation. So, in honor of Thanksgiving here are some of the things we are grateful for at the library:

We are grateful for our Trustees, Friends and Volunteers. Our Trustees help shape and guide the mission and services we provide, the Friends raise important funds to help implement those services, and our volunteers keep the doors open and the circulation desk running for our patrons. Simply put, without these dedicated groups the library could not operate.

We are grateful for programs like the recent grant-funded PLACE Climate Change Discussion Series hosted by the MRV Libraries. Over the past three months, community members came together to grapple with several themes of climate change explored in both books and short films. What emerged from these discussions were a few solid ideas and next steps for our community to build resiliency and adapt to the more frequent and extreme flooding we are seeing even now. We appreciate the hope fostered from the conversation.

We are grateful for the community members who have agreed to share their expertise for our upcoming programming. This Sunday starting at 4pm at the Moretown School, clinical herbalist Allison Dellner returns for the last workshop in a year long series. Our focus will be on aromatic, pungent, and spicy herbs. We will discuss the condensing, shedding and releasing energy of the fall season, and make Fire Cider together. The class is free to attend however registration is required by contacting the library. The Moretown Open Mic coming up on Friday at the Old Town Hall is also a great opportunity to get together and appreciate the hidden talents of friends and neighbors.

We are grateful for books, audiobooks and ebooks. For the cost of a library card (free), they bring us into new worlds, expand our horizons, give us new perspective, and sometimes simply entertain us. Some recent additions here include the biography “Ali: A Life” by Jonathan Eig, “The Rules of Magic” by Alice Hoffman, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ latest “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy”.

And last but not least, we are grateful for community support including from local businesses like the recent donation of a Happy Light from Verilux for patrons to check out. 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!

October News

     In recognition of National Friends Week October 15-21, we would like to celebrate and thank our Friends of the Library. This very important ancillary group provides resources for additional programming like our Open Mic Nights, much needed equipment like our new picture book case, support for children’s summer reading like the storytime sunflower house, and special events throughout the year.
     In this spirit of support, the Friends are organizing a fun contest to get help designing a new t-shirt that will share the love for our library. The winning design will be worn across Moretown and beyond, and the winner will receive a free shirt as well. Simple designs with one color will reproduce best. Entries are due by Friday, November 17th, and the winning design will be announced and available at the December 8th Moretown Open Mic Night for a $20 suggested donation.
    Without our Friends of the Library, it would be much more challenging to share the opportunities we do that aim to engage all in the joy of lifelong learning. Their gift of time and commitment to the library sets an example for how volunteerism leads to positive civic engagement and the betterment of our community; and we thank them for it!
     Two audiobooks that recently hit our shelves are in the nonfiction category. In “Giant of the Senate”, Al Franken does his own narration of this candid memoir, recounting both his time as comedian as well as his path of becoming a politician. Both funny and serious, it manages to impart an important message about the state of American politics without being too depressing. As a single mother of two boys, neuroscientist Frances Jensen MD was motivated by her experience to bring together the latest research on brain development to not only dispel commonly held myths about teens, but translate that research into practical suggestions for the adults who love them. The result is  “The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults”. Hope to see you at the library soon!

September News

Like  the honeybees, chipmunks and hummingbirds who are furiously preparing for the season ahead, we have been busy making some exciting changes and getting ready for a great series of programs for the fall. We invite your visit to see all that is happening at the library.
Thanks to generous funding from our Friends of the Library, we have a wonderful new picture bookcase located in the back room for our youngest patrons. With the covers and titles facing forward, little ones will now be able to choose a book that grabs their interest and have a cozy spot to read it too. We have also relocated the juvenile fiction and nonfiction to this space to create a dedicated children’s area for reading, relaxing and playing. Our other collections will be moving around the library for more accessible browsing as well, and along with fresh exterior paint it gives us a whole new look.
Just in time for the longer nights and chilly weather, our Open Mic nights are back on the second Friday of the month. Beginning next week, September 8th at 7pm come to the Old Town Hall to share your hidden talents with friends and neighbors, or be part of an encouraging audience. All ages and abilities are welcome, and the sign-ups begin at 6:30pm. We are also excited to welcome back edutainer and scientist Dan Zucker for “The Weather” on Sunday, September 10th at 4pm at the Moretown School. This talk is geared toward the non-scientist looking for a thorough overview of the forces and principles that drive the climate and the weather. Attending would be a great primer for the climate change series presented by the MRV Libraries, “Climate Change and our Future: Mitigation, Adaptation and Dialogue”. The first meeting of this grant funded “book discussion meets science cafe” is coming right up on Thursday, September 14th at 6:30pm at the Joslin Memorial Library in Waitsfield.
Our shelves are stocked with a good variety of titles for you as the busyness of summer recedes and routines return. For mystery lovers, both Sue Grafton and Louise Penny have published the next book in their respective series of the alphabet murders and Inspector Gamache. Also new to our shelves is the memoir “Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student and a Life Changing Friendship” by Michelle Kuo. Arriving in a small southern town as a new and optimistic Teach for America volunteer, she is quickly faced with the realities of being in one of the poorest places in the country. Sharing the story of her mentorship with one particular student gives us a glimpse into the complicated legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and its lasting impact. Finally, if you are already dreaming of winter then “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden is a logical choice. Set at the edge of the wilderness of Russia, and with a bit of magic sprinkled in, it is a great tale of one young woman’s determination to find her own way.

Hope to see you at the library soon!


Build a Better World This Summer at the Library

What makes a better world, and how do you build one? This is the question we invite you to consider through a wide variety of programs and events this summer at the MRV Libraries. From the summer reading program kick-off featuring live birds of prey with the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, to a final community art project that gathers inspiration from  a month of reflecting on what makes a better world, there is something for all ages and interests.

Explore building a better world with construction and help us design and build three little free libraries for our communities. Or, join us to make and play Giant Jenga using recycled materials. With their new 3D printer, Makey Makey and LittleBits, the Warren Library offers a technology twist on building a better world. And for our youngest builders, Duplos will be available for constructing and free play at the Moretown Library.

Art and Music also help create a better world. The Joslin library will host several engaging concerts, including “Trash to Tunes” with Dennis Waring demonstrating a variety of instruments handmade from recycled materials. Bring a picnic dinner and enjoy traditional and original songs with rampant audience involvement with Jon Gilmore at the Warren Library. Finally, travel to the Spring Hill School stage to see a live action performance of “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.

Nature often knows best how to build a better world. Join us for a series of programs on Nature’s Engineers and learn about the amazing adaptations and abilities of birds, bees and beavers. Wild Man extraordinaire Luke Foley will lead adventures in the fundamentals of wilderness survival, exploring the core elements of staying alive regardless of setting or circumstance. And, enter a tiny world to create fairy gardens with the Warren Library. Details on the great events and books that make up the summer reading program are coming to all three libraries soon.

Finally, reading can build a better world by encouraging new perspectives, teaching new skills and connecting us to each other. Some recent recommended books at the Moretown Library include “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi. Beginning in Ghana in the 18th century with two sisters, Gyasi’s novel follows two branches of a family tree; one line that remains in Africa, and one that ends up in the United States after one of the sisters is enslaved. Through the next eight generations we see the lasting consequences of the slave trade on both sides of the ocean, as well as the resiliency and hope that carries through the families. For non-fiction reading, Neil deGrasse Tyson brings us “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry”. True to form, deGrasse Tyson is able to condense the expansive questions of how we fit into the universe and the nature of space and time into short, easy to read chapters. As he writes in his dedication, “For all those who are too busy to read fat books yet nonetheless seek a conduit to the cosmos.”

Nominations for Little Free Libraries Locations Begins!

This summer the Mad River Valley Librarians are coming together to help design, build and install tiny libraries in three Valley locations, joining over 50,000 registered Little Libraries across the globe.  Embracing the statewide summer reading program theme, “Build a Better World”  these mini libraries offer a free, simple and fun way to exchange books.

Providing 24 hours of accessibility to a wide range of books for a multi generational audience,  it is the hope that these little libraries will foster neighborhood book sharing and will provide one more path towards a life long love of reading. Each library is unique and will be designed by community members but typically they are made of wood and house approximately 20-30 books.

We need your help! From planning through installation there are all sorts of ways to get involved.  Nominations will commence on Monday, May 22 with the goal to find the perfect three sites to install the Little Libraries.  Do you have a place in mind that would be an ideal spot for one of these libraries?  You can nominate your spot here or in person at each library.  After compiling the nominations official voting on sites will begin Thursday, June 8 and the winners will be announced on Friday, June 16.

Once the places are designated all interested community members will then gather to brainstorm design ideas.  There will be an open session in the middle of June with a volunteer architect to help bring these ideas to life. We will then gather on Saturday, June 22 at the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market along with a few members of Aaron Flint Builders (a Waterbury based construction company) to construct the Little Libraries.

For more information come visit us or go to online.


April News

One of my favorite things about living in Vermont is the variety found in our seasons and the unique gifts each one brings. Now the wood frog eggs are in our ponds, the trout lilies are poking up through the forest floor, and the boisterous calls of returning birds greet us in the mornings. Spring is blossoming around us, and as the plants and animals in our community are doing, it is a great time of year for our own renewal and growth. What better way to do that than by learning a new skill through reading or attending one of our upcoming programs?

If you are looking to use the plants of this season to improve your metabolic function and digestion, then join clinical herbalist Allison Dellner for her upcoming Spring Tonics and Bitters: The Gifts of Spring workshop on Sunday, April 30th at the Moretown School at 4pm. This workshop is free with suggested donation, however you must register to attend: or 496-9728.

Perhaps you are interested in learning how to get your bicycle ready for the warm weather ahead. On Sunday, May 21st, we are teaming up with the Mad River Riders for a Bike Repair Café. Bring your bike along with any tools you have, and receive some hands-on training. There will also be a chance to help spruce up the Town Forest trails so they are ready for your summer use.

Maybe you are just ready to get out of the house after a long winter. Our Open Mic Nights continue, with the last two returning to Fridays on May 12th and June 9th at the Moretown Town Hall starting at 7pm. Come share your hidden talents, or cheer on your friends and neighbors as part of the audience.

Finally, the Birding by Ear class and walk is back by popular demand. Join the Mad Birders on Saturday, June 3rd at the Moretown School at 4pm for an indoor slideshow, and then come to Pony Farm the next morning June 4th at 7am to hear the sounds of our returning feathered friends and practice your newfound skills.

In the library, the season has prompted weeding and building our collection. Good Spring choices include: “Backyard Foraging” by Ellen Zachos with 65 familiar plants you didn’t know you could eat, the Peterson Field Guide’s CD “Birding by Ear: Eastern Central” to help decipher what you are hearing outside; and a new arrival to complement the recent Cooking with Kids workshop, “Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids will Love to Make (and eat)” by Deanna Cook.

Spring also brings us Meredith Whitney as our new assistant librarian. A native of Waterbury and Montpelier, she has been living in Moretown for a little over a year and the library is one of her favorite places in town. Meredith has held jobs in conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental education. Make sure to stop in and say hello!



March News

Since it was designated by Congress in 1987, we have celebrated Women’s History Month in March. Although it could be argued that the history of women in this country is relevant every month, it gives us the collective opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate women’s essential contributions both locally and globally. Whether returning to the era of the National Woman’s Party and their efforts to secure the right to vote via a great online photo collection from the Library of Congress, or staying closer to home and attending this evening’s roundtable discussion on “Women of the Counterculture Movement in 1970s Vermont” held at the Vermont History Center in Barre, we honor the work of the women before us as we strive towards equal opportunities for all.

This year’s Vermont Humanities Council (VHC) Vermont Reads title, “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson is yet another way to connect with Women’s History Month. A beautiful memoir written in verse about coming of age during the civil rights movement, it highlights the unique struggles and perspectives of being both female and a person of color during a critical time in our history.  With VHC’s generous funding the Mad River Valley Libraries are excited to bring this program to the community with 45 copies of the book to distribute along with a variety of events, including an intergenerational book discussion held on Thursday, April 27th at 6:30pm at the Moretown Elementary School. Join your friends and neighbors to engage in the important themes and ideas of this book that are still relevant today.  Students from our area schools will also be on hand to help facilitate and share the work they have been doing around the title in their classrooms. Please give a call or visit the libraries’ websites to learn more about all of our VT Reads programming.

Many of the recent books to come to the library also celebrate and share a feminine point of view. “Lucky Boy” by Shanthi Sekaran follows the stories of Solimar Castro Valdez, a recent mexican immigrant who shows up at her US cousin’s doorstep pregnant, and Kavya Reddy, a chef in her mid-thirties who is trying to conceive. The resulting interactions and decisions of the main characters create an emotionally challenging story about motherhood. And Christina Baker Kline is back with a new historical novel that illuminates the subject of one of Andrew Wyeth’s most famous paintings, “Christina’s World”. In “A Piece of the World” the author of “Orphan Train” returns to early 20th century America with a take on the life of Christina Olson, her family’s farm in Maine, and her role as the artist’s muse.

Hope to see you at the library soon!

February News

It is often where two natural ecosystems meet, a forest and a field for example, that we will find the greatest biodiversity. In this “edge community” plants and animals from both forest and field exist, along with some that are unique to the overlap. And generally, the more variety of species and habitats, the more resilient an area is to disturbance. Likewise, we need many different organizations, businesses, views and ultimately people to make our place strong and able to weather uncertainty at the national level. Now more than ever is the time to embrace and enhance our diversity and come together rooted in community.

Fortunately the many genres of books allows different perspectives and can often be good conversation starters with friends and neighbors. From “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, to “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline or the recent and highly acclaimed “Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, historical fiction brings us back to important times and pivotal moments that shaped where we stand now. Memoirs like “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, this year’s VT Reads book “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson, or the most in demand at the moment “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance allow us to step into others’ shoes and gain important perspective we didn’t have before. And, it is no surprise that George Orwell’s “1984” has become a bestseller once again with its prescient plot line. Dystopian novels like this, the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins or this year’s “Underground Airlines” by Ben H. Winters can bring strange comfort in uncertain times. No matter what genre or particular book, all have great power to foster empathy and broaden our worldview.

Our upcoming programs are good opportunities for coming together to learn and enjoy different company as well. On Friday, February 10th we will host the first of a monthly Open Mic and Poetry Slam at the Town Hall from 7-9pm. Bring your voice, instrument or appreciation and enjoy a night of music with friends and neighbors. On Saturday, February 11th during regular hours, we will be hosting a coloring and card-making open house in celebration of Valentine’s day.  Stop in and let your inner artist shine with our coloring pages and supplies, or bring your own to work on and finish. Light snacks will be provided. Later in the month, we welcome back Vermont Fermentation Adventures to learn the art of making Kombucha, Kefir and other fermented beverages. This event on Sunday, February 19th at 4pm is free, however you must register to attend by calling 496-9728 or emailing Hope to see you at the one of these events or at the library soon!