January 2021 Newsletter
2020: A Year in Review
Information & Access
About a month ago I saw an ad online for an ornament: a dumpster fire with “2020” written in bold on it. A battery powers a plastic fire that lights up inside. It is an apt analogy for the year we all just experienced, but with all things it is best to look for positives and there were many positive accomplishments for the Information and Access Unit at VTLIB this year. Let’s take a brief look back before we move on to 2021.

Thanks to April Shaw’s work, VTLIB never suspended interlibrary loan (ILL) despite the enormous disruption that COVID brought. There were a couple weeks where we had single digit requests, but we consider ILL to be a vital service and will always provide it, pandemic or not. April also transitioned us from one ILL courier vendor to another this year, saving libraries money and expanding the service at the same time!

In fact, April was very busy this year. She completed a graduate certificate in instructional design while updating the ILL Code and created ILL Best Practices while leading the ILL Roundtable, created video tutorials for CLOVER, made numerous online and pre-pandemic in-person presentations to parts of state government, and promoted LearningExpress. April also taught our first fully online major CE course for Reference. All while answering questions and handling issues with ILL as they arise.

Speaking of being busy, Joshua Muse did a lot for just about everyone this year. Josh did his usual stellar work with the Annual Public Library report and reporting to our federal partners. Josh and I secured a $120,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation to provide $1500 to 80 libraries for connectivity improvements. Josh worked with the Public Service Department to identify libraries with wi-fi services and helped distribute wi-fi routers to libraries. He encouraged libraries that did not already to leave their wi-fi on 24/7. Having known sources for free open wi-fi is critical during the pandemic. Josh also ran a survey that documented which libraries were open and when, whether they are offering curbside service, etc.—all vital information that is essential in real time but will also provide historical data on the extraordinary service public libraries offered during this time.
But, like all the best tech folks, Josh’s indispensable work is mostly behind the scenes and somewhat invisible. He kept things running and reacted quickly to requests for help both inside and outside the Department.

Lauren Wallace left for the University of Alaska-Anchorage libraries in early December, but before she departed, she co-taught introductory cataloging with me and was working to bring Advanced Cataloging to the online environment. Lauren accomplished a great deal in a short time here at VTLIB, including improvements to geographic naming processes, record retention, and she finished retrospective cataloging of the Vermont Collection in the State Library this year.

In addition to their regular work, Cindy and Linda B. continued to modernize our Government Documents collection and kept up the distribution of statutes. Vance and Linda W-P. supported April with keeping ILL chugging along. Vance and I helped with PPE distribution to get vital supplies to libraries.

And finally, I worked with the Agency of Natural Resources to start a program to distribute moisture meters to libraries so that Vermonters can test their wood to make sure it is properly dried before burning. This was a great opportunity for libraries to get directly involved with improving air quality and over 50 libraries received meters.

These are just some highlights of work performed in addition to the essential work Info & Access performs daily. The flexibility and extraordinary service everyone here provided in 2020 is something to be proud of in a year we might all like to soon forget. Let’s hold on to the good work and positives before we move on!

Tom McMurdo
Assistant State Librarian for Information & Access
Library Advancement
Despite the pressure to stay one step ahead of the COVID-19 fallout, 2020 offered a host of opportunities—most noticeably, a chance to connect with the library community on a different level and retool most of our services to better meet the needs of the State’s libraries.  Once we come out of this pandemic, I hope that we can expand on the more positive processes we put in place during this crisis.  
The pandemic caused high demand for the division’s consulting services (we logged over 2,500 transactions!) as libraries strove to respond to the constantly changing situation. To keep up with demand, the LA division—in collaboration with Information & Access—created a host of web-based resource pages that organized and synthesized expert information and advice. 
The number of resources, financial support, and regulatory changes that emerged forced us to take a more disciplined approach to information dissemination, resulting in the creation of a twice-weekly email that efficiently collates resources to assist an already overwhelmed audience. 
COVID-19 caused us to redesign the delivery of our events and professional development opportunities. In addition to moving the Certificate of Public Librarianship program fully online, we responded to the immediate needs of library staff with trainings on HR, wellness, library services during the pandemic, technology, and programming. We helped a large number of librarians attend virtual trainings and national conferences. We also redesigned the Trustee and Friends Conference, looking at digital access issues, learning styles, varying technological abilities, synchronous and asynchronous options, creativity around networking opportunities, and more—all while customizing the sessions to address issues related to the changing roles of libraries during COVID. By all accounts, delivery of this free conference was a true success. 
Other notable LA accomplishments this year: 

  • Two new platforms: Niche Academy—to streamline and broaden our continuing education offerings, and Beanstack—to offer a year-round online reading challenge system for all ages. 
  • Over 100 performer grants to help libraries creatively deliver programming despite social distancing challenges.   
  • Swank movie licensing that allowed school and public libraries to show movies outside and integrate movies into their distance learning.  
  • Online conferences for our three awards—Red Clover, Green Mountain, and the newly named middle-grade Vermont Golden Dome Book Award.  
  • ABLE Library for the blind and visually impaired remained open and served patrons from other states where libraries had closed.  
  • Two rounds of PPE distribution, with a third happening in January (thanks to the CARES Act), including sneeze guards, sanitizer, disinfectant, and wipers.  
The list of accomplishments goes on, but I will stop here to express my deepest gratitude to my LA team members Jonathan Clark, Jennifer Johnson, Lara Keenan, and Joy Worland, as well as the ABLE Library team Sara Blow and Wendy Clark, for their hard work, flexibility, and humor during this difficult year. It was an honor work with them and to collaborate with our departmental colleagues and community partners—a special shout out to UVM’s Gary Deziel—to serve the Vermont library community, and by extension, Vermonters.  
Wishing you a good year ahead. 

Janette Shaffer
Assistant State Librarian for Library Advancement
For State Employees
VTLIB eBook and eAudiobook Update!
VTLIB is pleased to announce that we have transitioned the eBook and eAudiobook service for state employees from RBDigital to Overdrive. State employees with a library card from the Department of Libraries can now access these resources by downloading the Libby app, available here: https://www.overdrive.com/. If you already have a card you can choose “Vermont Department of Libraries” from the drop down list of libraries, then enter your card number and password. If you do not remember your password, please contact april.shaw@vermont.gov.
Any titles you are in the process of reading on the RBDigital app will remain available to you until their check in date. Unfortunately, any holds you placed on specific titles were not transferred to Overdrive and you will need to resubmit those.
If you would like to access the available titles on Overdrive and do not have a library card from the Department of Libraries, you can request one here: https://libraries.vermont.gov/state_library/state_employees/card.
More information about all of the online resources available to state employees is available here: https://libraries.vermont.gov/state_library/state_employees/online_resources
Governance & Management
Preparing for Town Meeting

This year’s Town Meeting will be unique as municipalities either find ways to conduct a socially distanced in-person/virtual meeting or switch to Australian Ballot and forgo the tradition of floor debate (having instead an informational online meeting).
If they have not already done so, library trustees and directors should connect with their municipal government ASAP to see what options the library might have for participating and what the requirements will be.
Effective preparation for Town Meeting can take time. Trustees and directors should develop a plan for communicating the library’s value and start actively these using talking points/materials with taxpayers throughout the months leading up to Town Meeting (in addition to speaking at Town Meeting itself).
Even though the library building may have been closed for parts of this year, the library staff has continued providing impactful and meaningful services. Emphasizing the new, creative ways the library staff has served the community, brought the community together while following safety protocols, and provided a lifeline to isolated individuals may be part of what trustees and directors share at this year’s Town Meeting.
Below are tools to help library trustees, directors, and staff communicate the impact and value of their library:

  • Infographics put information/data into visuals (or a series of pictures) to make the information meaningful and easy to understand. Googling “library infographic” results in several resources. One such resource, Librarian Design Share, is created by librarians for librarians: http://bit.ly/LibDesign2

  • Libraries can use the Library Value Calculator to illustrate the monetary value of the community’s use of the library – and then use this value to calculate a Return on Investment figure (ROI) - http://bit.ly/LibValue

  • Libraries play a critical role in the happiness of Americans, and communities that spend more on libraries, parks, and highways are shown to support the well-being of community members. For more facts about libraries from ALA, visit http://bit.ly/QuotableFacts2 (PDF)

  • ALA developed the “E’s of Libraries” Public Awareness campaign to provide library trustees and directors a memorable, meaningful, and organized way to advocate in their communities: http://bit.ly/ALAEs
Youth Services
Vermont Winter Reading Challenge
The Vermont Winter Reading Challenge (https://vermont.beanstack.org/reader365) is open now through the end of February on our reading challenge platform, Beanstack!

The new year is a time for reflection and reinvigoration. What better way to do that than to cozy up with inspiring books this winter? The challenge is open to readers of all ages. Participants can read books of their choosing, log minutes, and earn digital badges. We encourage readers to choose books and stories from an array of diverse authors and topics. Librarians interested in promoting this challenge to their patrons can find art, promotional materials and more information here in the 2021 Winter Reading Challenge Launch Kit here: https://bit.ly/38gKjPc. Use #WinterRead2021 and you could be featured on one of Beanstack’s weekly roundup stories on Facebook and Instagram.

If you are looking for more information about Beanstack, check out our info page (https://libraries.vermont.gov/Beanstack) and the info sheet posted there to find login instructions, video tutorials, and promotional materials. You can also learn how individual libraries can set up a drawing or raffle in Beanstack for readers who selected your library when creating an account. The raffle will be based on criteria you set in relation to existing challenges.

We are also offering two training opportunities co-presented with a representative from Beanstack. The workshop on Wednesday, January 20, 1:00-2:00pm, will be a general overview of the Beanstack interface aimed at those unfamiliar with the platform. The workshop on Thursday, January 21, 1:00-2:00pm, will focus on promotion and the user experience. Both sessions will be recorded and shared on our website. You can find registration and access information here: https://libraries.vermont.gov/services/continuing_ed

Email jonathan.l.clark@vermont.gov for more information.
Special Populations & ABLE Library
There is still time to join the January ABLE Library Virtual Book Club which happens on January 20, 2021 from 2:00-3:00pm. The book selection is Laura Spinney's Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World (DB090071). Please contact Sara Blow (sara.blow@vermont.gov) for access information, or if you need a copy of the book. 

The Central VT Council on Aging has a special international edition of the Memorable Times Cafe in store for Wednesday, February 3, 10:30-11:30am. The group will meet online with a group from Scotland to pilot a sharing of “Juke Box Days.” Juke Box Days focus on the music, culture, news, clothing, etc. from a specific time span (between the 50’s and 60’s). Music requests are welcome. We invite persons with memory loss and their care partners to join from the comfort and safety of home to share stories, memories, music and community. These social events take place monthly over Zoom and telephone. For more information or to obtain the link to join the session, please contact Barb Asen via email at basen@cvcoa.org or 802-476-2681.

The ABLE Library (https://libraries.vermont.gov/able_library) provides services to the blind, visually impaired and print disabled, as well as to state supported institutions. We have a collection of large print, digital talking books, print braille picture books, as well as audio-described DVDs. Braille services are available upon request. We currently are enrolling new patrons. Please submit the Application for ABLE Library Services (https://libraries.vermont.gov/able_library/application) if you are a new patron. Don’t hesitate to contact the ABLE Library staff for help: lib.ablelibrary@vermont.gov or (802) 636-0020 or (800) 479-1711
Continuing Education
VTLIB CE: What We Do

The program has shown significant growth with over 80 new people enrolled in the past year, and twelve people completing certification since June 2020. The Department of Libraries will formally recognize and honor these twelve and others who finish before the annual award ceremony in the spring. Our recent shift to a new online training platform will help us accommodate this and future growth. Our participants completing certification while staffing a library during a pandemic and embracing new training delivery methods, merits special mid-year mention. Bravo to all!

In addition to the Certificate program, the Department of Libraries offers continuing education opportunities for librarians from different types of libraries and at all stages of their careers. Part of what makes this possible and effective is partnerships with other organizations and presenters whose areas of expertise coincide with or are adjacent to library work. Upcoming examples are webinars with the Vermont Historical Society, the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, the Community Legal Information Center at the Vermont Law School, and the Vermont Land Trust. VTLIB is also hosting guest presenters who have done trainings nationally on how changing cannabis laws affect library collections, programming, and trustworthy information sharing about agricultural, economic, medical, and societal impacts of legal cannabis.

In some cases workshops may be of interest to and open to non-librarians. Full details and registration to all VTLIB workshops are here: https://libraries.vermont.gov/services/continuing_ed
Total number of interlibrary loan requests made in November 2020: 3918

Books: 3503
Videos: 298
Audiobooks: 98
Music CDs: 8
Articles: 11
November Fun Fact

It was a month for requesting How To books. Some of the requested titles included:

  • How to Argue and Win Every Time: At Home, at Work, in Court, Everywhere, Every Day
  • How to Catch Santa
  • How to Die in Space: A Journey through Dangerous Astrophysical Phenomena
  • How to Fall in Love with Anyone

Top 10 most requested book titles (with most requested at the top):

  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (Simonson)
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Gamily and Culture in Crisis (Vance)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Angelou)
  • The Hobbit (Tolkien)
  • A Reasonable Life: Toward a Simpler, Secure, More Human Existence (Máté)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Baldwin)
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette (Semple)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston)
  • Still Life (Penny)
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Wilkerson)
Small & Rural Libraries
Vermont Libraries Receive "Libraries Transforming Communities" Grants

The American Library Association recently granted funding through a national competitive grant process entitled Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries. The purpose of the $3,000 grant is to help libraries in small and rural communities address issues of concern in their communities. Suggested project topics include media literacy, community discussions of potentially polarizing local or national issues, book/film discussions related to current events. Funds can be used for staff training, technology improvements, and more, provided community-engaged programming is the driving force behind the expense.

In the first round of grants 200 libraries were selected from a pool of over 300 applicants. Fifteen of these libraries are in Vermont, making Vermont one of the most represented states awarded funding. These libraries are: Bixby Memorial Free Library (Vergennes), Blake Memorial Library (East Corinth), Cabot Public Library, Charlotte Library, Chelsea Public Library, Highgate Library and Community Center, Manchester Community Library, Orwell Free Library, Pawlet Public Library, Russell Memorial Library (Monkton), Starksboro Public Library, Stowe Free Library, Ainsworth Public Library (Williamstown), Westminster West Public Library, and Worthen Library (South Hero). A huge congratulations to these libraries and their staff and stakeholders!

A full list of grantees and details about the grant, which is now accepting applications for Round Two, is here: https://bit.ly/2X9LxFI
From Our Neighbors at the Vermont Historical Society
VHS News & Events
History for Homeschoolers: Tracks Across the Land 
January 13 & 14 - 1:00-3:00pm

Discover how railroads and the Civil War changed Vermont in the mid-1800s 
History for Homeschoolers programs are recommended for children ages 7 to 12. Space is limited; pre-registration is required. $8.00 per child or $6.50 per child for VHS members and families with 3 or more participating children. Also available as a virtual class.

For more information, contact education@vermonthistory.org or call (802) 828-1413.
Virtual Roundtable: Digitizing Collections and History Resources 
January 21 - 12:00pm

Join the Vermont Historical Society and our League of Local Historical Societies & Museums (LLHSM) for online lunchtime discussions this Winter. We’ll be exploring a variety of topics, with an emphasis on best practices and information to help address expected challenges and opportunities in 2021. Bring your questions, experience, and sandwich to the Zoom room. Free and open to everyone, pre-registration appreciated. 
In-person experiences with visitors and researchers are no longer guaranteed. We’ll explore some ways we can share our collections and previously “analog” resources online to reach new, existing, and sometimes far-flung audiences. 

Virtual Vermont Trivia
January 6, 13, 20, & 27 - 7:00pm

This four-week trivia series is free and fun for all ages. Each week will have a different, Vermont-centric theme and you don't need an account (or pants) to play!  


Vermont Trivia Championship Round

Are you the very best at Vermont Trivia? Want to win bragging rights and prizes? Join us for our championship round on February 3. Space is limited, so sign up today! 
$5/members, $10/non-members


When Women Lead: Governor Madeleine Kunin of Vermont 

This digital version of the exhibit at the Vermont History Museum contains everything you see in-person, plus additional information about Vermont's first female governor!

Innovation in Vermont

This born-digital exhibit features objects from the VHS collection that help tell the story of technology and problem-solving in Vermont. One object from the exhibit is on display at the Vermont History Museum and will rotate monthly.

As in Your Conscience: Voting in Vermont 

A look back at voting in Vermont over the course of the state's history. This exhibit features posters and flyers from 1834-2006 in three categories: ballots (unlike today, ballots were printed by the political parties), instructions to voters on how to cast their ballots, and appeals to voters’ civic duty when selecting a candidate or confronting a controversy. Many of the items in the exhibit were created by partisan campaigns, but others were purely educational.