December 2021 Newsletter
Important Updates
Acting State Librarian Update
Something to Celebrate: ARPA Grant Funding Distributed to 162 Public Libraries
With Hannukah coming early we find ourselves already in the midst of the winter holidays. And, as if on cue, looking out my window the low sun reflects off the layer of white snow reminding us of the beauty of this time of year. I would like to say that we are slowing down and reflecting on our successes this year, but we are actively engaged in a number of programs, activities, and services. That time for reflection will come, but for now the Department of Libraries is searching for a new State Librarian, a Governance and Management Consultant, and we recently hired a new Contracts and Grants Administrator. And, since the last newsletter, we have distributed $923,821 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to 162 public libraries in Vermont. These ARPA funds were earmarked for libraries and came through the Institute of Museum and Library Services to VTLIB.
This funding will support everything from expanded collections, lendable laptops, indoor mobile air purification units, and many other programs and purchases that will positively affect Vermont communities. The grants were distributed based on several factors, including population of the library service area, unemployment, poverty, and broadband connectivity. We set the minimum grant amount at $2,000 to make a meaningful impact for every library. The top grant was just over $66,000 for the largest public library.
This is obviously an extraordinary time for so many reasons, but it feels like a once-in-a-career type of moment when we can grant these funds to public libraries. It is also a testament to the vibrancy and creativity of our public libraries that the value of these funds will be realized multiple times. Libraries are exceptionally good at getting a return on investment. That value is felt daily in our communities. Now, that sounds like something to reflect upon, but that will have to wait! You can see for yourself all the great things happening at VTLIB in the articles below.

Happy holidays,

Tom McMurdo
Acting State Librarian

P.S. Don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns; my email address is
Staff News
Thanks for Everything, Linda B.!
After 20 years at VTLIB, Program Technician Linda Bullard will retire on December 3, 2021. Linda has been an integral part of the Information & Access Division, as she has managed the distribution of government documents across the state, provided assistance with the VTLIB collection, and maintained the public meetings calendar and library directory. We are sad to have Linda leave the department, but we are excited for her as she begins a new chapter. Linda plans on spending more time with her husband, Gordon, and visiting family and friends.

Congratulations, Linda! We wish you all the best and thank you for your many years of hard work and dedication to VTLIB and Vermonters.
Department News
For State Employees
LearningExpress Library
Vermont, like many states, faces a shortage of truck drivers that hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To help remedy this, the Vermont Department of Libraries has contracted with EBSCO to provide free, statewide access to LearningExpress Library . In a broad array of career, school, and certification options, LearningExpress Library offers many license tests, including the CDL.
A brief overview of the resources available shows ten different practice tests and resources for the CDL, alone. Tests: CDL General Knowledge Practice 1 and 2, CDL Combination Vehicles Practice, CDL Air Brakes Endorsement Practice, CDL Hazardous Materials Endorsement Practice, CDL Passenger Transport Endorsement Practice, CDL Doubles and Triples Endorsement Practice, CDL Tank Vehicles Endorsement Practice. Tutorials: Commercial Driver’s License Test Prep.
This is just one of dozens of careers that one can explore using LearningExpress Library resources--all provided at no cost to Vermonters by the Department of Libraries.
So, how do you access these great resources? If you are a State of Vermont employee, use this URL to get started: That link is for state employees only, please!
If you are not a state employee, contact your local library for access. Every library in Vermont has a handy link that will get you started! Please contact April Shaw ( with any questions.
Information & Access
News from CLIC, the Public Law Library
Have you ever had a patron ask for help with a legal question?

We, at CLIC, know that our Vermont public librarians are often our first and most trusted interface with the public. We also know that most of you are not attorneys or law librarians, but that you want to help because that is what librarians do. We have a libguide that can help you navigate the process of assisting patrons with answering their legal questions:

When helping patrons with legal questions, above all be cautious about providing assistance that can be construed as legal advice, instead focus on helping patrons to understand and navigate available legal resources so that they can do their own research and find information that is relevant to their issue.

And remember if you need further assistance with patron legal research questions, you can always “Ask a Law Librarian,” by calling (802) 831-1313 or emailing
Please note: The Julien & Virginia Cornell Library and CLIC will be closed from December 24, 2021 through January 2, 2022.
October 2021 Online Resources Usage Report
Beginning this month, we'll be sharing our usage report for the online resources offered by the Department of Libraries! Learning Express and Vermont Online Library are free to all libraries (public, school, or academic), while Universal Class is only available to public libraries.

Our latest report, featured below, represents usage in October 2021. For more in-depth statistics, please contact Josh Muse (

Learning Express - Provides training for workplace, academic, and job-hunting skills. It offers training for occupation exams, skills for school, exploration of careers, resume and interview help, and more.
Most Used Resources – Tests: Praxis Elementary Education, CLEP College Credit History, Praxis Special Education, PSAT Practice Test; Tutorials: Prepare for GED Science; Ebooks: Electrician’s Licensing Exam, CDL Test Prep, EMT Exam Prep, Job Interviews, LSAT, NCLEX Nursing Exam, Guide to Getting your Green Card; Computer Courses: Windows 10 Advanced, Use the Internet
Universal Class - Offers a wide range of online courses (from business to cooking, computers to social work) that are led by a real instructor, and that can be completed at your own pace.
Most Active Classes – American Government, Reading Comprehension, Writing Basics, French Culture, Computer Literacy, Genealogy, Anatomy, Egyptian Mythology, Goal Setting, Christianity, Dog Psychology, Weight Training
Vermont Online Library - Covering everything from magazine and newspaper articles to DIY car repair and business help, Vermont Online Library can help with any topic. Users can even read articles by issue from popular magazines, including The New York Times, Economist, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire.
Most Used Databases – Academic OneFile, Opposing Viewpoints, General OneFile, Biography, US History, Science, News, Virtual Reference Library
Read more about Learning Express, Universal Class, or Vermont Online Library, or email Josh Muse with any questions.
October 2021 ILL Stats
Total number of requests: 4740

  • Books: 4345
  • Videos: 260
  • Audiobooks: 118
  • Music CDs: 9
  • Articles: 5
  • Music Scores: 3

Top 5 requested audiobooks:

  • A Test of Wills (Todd)
  • The Road (McCarthy)
  • Life of Pi (Martel)
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bradbury)
  • The Devil in the White City (Larson)
Top 10 most requested book titles in October 2021 (with most requested titles at the top):
  • The Indigo Girl (Boyd)
  • Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague (O'Farrell)
  • We Contain Multitudes (Henstra)
  • Dear Edward (Napolitano)
  • Klara and the Sun (Ishiguro)
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had (Lombardo)
  • The Paris Library (Skeslien)
  • Where the Forest Meets the Stars (Vanderah)
  • Afterlife (Alvarez)
  • Heart Berries: A Memoir (Mailhot)
ABLE Library & Inclusive Services
ABLE Library & Inclusive Services Updates
ABLE Book Club

Please join the ABLE Library’s next virtual book club on January 19, 2022 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm for a facilitated discussion of the Vermont Humanities Council’s Vermont Reads book We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra (Sound recording book number: DB 095548). Please contact the ABLE Library to find out how to get a digital copy of the book and register for the discussion. Email or call (802) 636-0020 or (800) 479-1711.
Memorable Times Café

Join the Central Vermont Council on Aging (CVCOA) and the ABLE Library on Wednesday, January 5th from 10:30 to 11:30 am for another Memorable Times Café. This program was created to spark pleasant memories from the 1950’s and 1960’s to get participants talking and having fun. It is specially designed for people living with memory loss to attend and enjoy along with their care partner. The program is free and warmly welcomes new participants. Please contact Barb Asen at CVCOA for more information or to register: or 802-476-2681.
Audio-Described DVDs

Did you know that the ABLE Library offers audio-described DVDs for patrons to check out? These DVDs are produced especially for people who are blind or have a visual impairment. They contain a narration track that describes what is happening on the screen. This allows patrons to more fully enjoy their favorite movies. To access audio-described DVDs, please call or email the ABLE Library at (802) 636-0020 or
Reasonable Accommodations

If you receive a request from a library patron for a reasonable accommodation, the New England ADA Center ( has a hotline where you can get expert advice on reasonable accommodations (1-800-949-4232). They also offer several other resources, including training, if you’re interested in learning more.
Continuing Education
Jazz Up Your Library's Social Media!
Save the date for some upcoming training on using social media effectively and professionally for your library!

On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, from 2:00-3:00pm Niche Academy will offer a free webinar on Instagram Basics for Libraries. Tiffany Breyne, librarian and web master for the Chicago Public Library, will share information about how to maximize your posts for engagement, best practices for accessibility, how to find inspiration, and how to get into Stories and Reels. More information and a link to registration is here:

Looking ahead to Friday, February 11, 2022, VTLIB staff Karen Gravlin and Jennifer Johnson will host a "Social Media Round-Up" webinar about recent changes in Facebook, best practices for accessibility on social media, and examples of social media policies for libraries. Registration is available on the VTLIB CE page:

If your library has not yet developed a social media policy (or hasn't updated it recently) or if social media is an area you have a sense you could be doing differently or better but are not sure how, these workshops are for you!
Open Houses for Certificate of Public Librarianship Program
Join VTLIB for one of our VT Certificate of Public Librarianship Program Open Houses! These will be informal gatherings to learn about the Certificate of Public Librarianship. All are welcome, especially those newly enrolled in the program. Others who may be interested are people considering enrolling, directors considering asking staff to enroll, and past or present participants with feedback, suggestions or questions about the program. There will be plenty of time for questions about where and how to earn credit, requirements, and creative ways to advance your library training! These will be two versions of the same thing, so no need to attend both.

One session will be held on Wednesday, January 5 from 3:00-4:00pm, and another will be held on Thursday, January 6, from 10:00-11:00am. Both sessions will be virtual. Visit our CE page to register for one of these sessions:
Youth Services
Summer Reading 2022: Oceans of Possibilities
The summer reading theme for 2022 is “Oceans of Possibilities.” The Vermont 2022 Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) store for free incentives (bookmarks, posters, etc.) is open through December 6, 2021. If your public library has not yet ordered summer reading incentives for 2022, please email Jennifer Johnson ( for more information. Information about accessing the manual for summer 2022 is also available; email Jennifer.
And, save the date: VTLIB’s virtual summer reading workshops will take place March 8 & 10, 2022, with a similar format as 2021. The Summer Reading Essentials session on March 8 will review the 2022 summer reading program and resources. The Summer Reading Plan and Share session on March 10 will be an opportunity to brainstorm and hear from other libraries about summer reading programming ideas.
"Building School and Library Partnerships" Lightning Talks
On December 14, 2021, from 3:30-4:30pm, join Vermont school and public librarians who attended the Library Journal & School Library Journal' "Resilient Together: Building School and Public Library Partnerships" virtual training ( Presenters will share insights, most meaningful takeaways, and plans to try new things inspired by the training. Register for the lightning talks on our CE page:
Small & Rural Libraries
"Ask, Listen, Empower" Virtual Book Club
A quick turnaround on this opportunity, but it is worth it!

The American Library Association (ALA) is offering a free series called the “Ask, Listen, Empower” Virtual Book Club. Participants will receive a free print copy of "Ask, Listen, Empower: Grounding Your Library Work in Community Engagement," edited by Mary Davis Fournier and Sarah Ostman for the ALA Public Programs Office. To be considered for one of the 100 available spots, library workers must register by December 4, 2021 at 12:59 a.m. EST. Participants will be expected to attend each of the book club sessions (1/12, 2/16, 3/16 all at 12:00 ET) and to read the chapters in advance. Sessions will not be recorded.

The application is simple and should take about 5 - 10 minutes to fill out. Find more information and apply here: This project pairs perfectly with the many libraries currently doing community conversations and stepping into post-pandemic strategic planning.
Governance & Management
"Turning Outward" from The Harwood Institute and ALA
Several years ago, the American Library Association (ALA), inspired and guided by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation's "turning outward" process, created a guide for libraries to strengthen their roles as community leaders:

The tools provided at the link above can be used to engage in deep, meaningful conversations/outreach with your community. These conversations focus on wider community aspirations and needs - and how the library can help the community realize those aspirations and lead the community in moving towards meeting those larger needs.

Libraries can use the insights gathered during these meaningful conversations to guide decisions around visioning, strategic planning, budgets, programs offered, and ways the library can meet the educational, cultural, informational, and research needs of the community.

A version of this article appeared in our December 2018 newsletter.
From Our Neighbors at the Vermont Historical Society
VHS News & Events
Vermont History Day Workshop
December 15, 4:00 - 5:00 pm

Learn more about finding and analyzing primary sources and citing them in annotated bibliographies in a joint webinar with partners at other New England History Day programs. John Taylor from National History Day in Maine and Victoria Hughes from Vermont History Day will also discuss the judging rubric criteria for student voice. Additional workshops will cover other pertinent topics. Educators and students from all locations are welcome. 

Online Exhibits

"As in Your Conscience": Voting in Vermont

"The War of Ideas": Wartime Propaganda Posters

When Women Lead: Governor Madeleine Kunin of Vermont

Innovation in Vermont 

Snelling Room Artwork 

The Vermont Black History Database

The Vermont Women's History Database