Members of The Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont receiving the 2024 Green Mountain Award by the Vermont Library Association at their May conference. Photo provided by the Vermont Department of Libraries.

The Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont Receives 2024 Green Mountain Award

The Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont received the Vermont Library Association’s 2024 Green Mountain Award, which recognizes outstanding service, support, or exceptional contributions to Vermont libraries.

“The final, comprehensive report authored by the group lays out a series of important recommendations which are already resulting in significant legislative discussion at the Statehouse,” said VLA President Oceana Wilson in presenting the award.

Vermont Department of Libraries State Librarian and Library Commissioner Catherine Delneo served as the Working Group’s Chair, and Assistant State Librarian Tom McMurdo served as chair prior to her tenure. Other members of the group were:

Kelly McCagg – Vermont Library Association President (2022-2023) and Past President (2023-2024), and Director of Burnham Memorial Library
Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup – Executive Director of the Vermont Humanities Council
Jeannette Bair – Public Library Representative, Retired Director, Rochester Public Library
Susan O’Connell – Public Library Representative, Director, Craftsbury Public Library
Wendy Sharkey – Public Library Representative, Director, Bennington Free Library
Meg Allison – Past-President, Legislative Concerns Chair, Vermont School Library Association, Librarian, U32 High School, Montpelier
Karen McCalla – Vermont School Library Association Representative, Teacher Librarian, Mill River Union Middle/High School, North Clarendon
Maria Avery – Academic Library Representative, University of Vermont Libraries, Burlington
Denise Hersey – Academic Library Representative, Director, Dana Health Sciences Library, University of Vermont, Burlington
Andy Kolovos – Friends and Trustees Section Representative, Vermont Library Association, Trustee, Brownell Library, Associate Director and Archivist, Vermont Folklife, Middlebury

Thank you to Jonathan Clark of the Vermont Department of Libraries for the photo of members of the working group receiving the award at VLA’s May 2024 conference.

The Vermont Library Association presents five awards for outstanding service to and support of the state’s libraries. Click the link to see past recipients.

  1. Birdie Award
  2. Green Mountain Award
  3. Sarah C. Hagar Award
  4. Senator Patrick Leahy Library Advocate of the Year Award
  5. Trustee of the Year Award

Last update June 12, 2024

Vermont Library Freedom to Read Statement

Intellectual freedom is the right of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Intellectual freedom is one of the core values of the library profession and a basic right in our democratic society; it promotes access to information and guides the defense against censorship.

In 1953, the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers jointly released The Freedom to Read Statement. This statement reminded us that, “The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack” (ALA, 2004). Now, seventy years later, a resurgence of attacks on the freedom to read again threatens our democracy. Calls for book bans, the adoption of unconstitutional legislation, and campaigns to criminalize librarians for distributing materials protected by the First Amendment threaten our fundamental liberties.

Vermont librarians are joining together to emphatically reaffirm their commitment to the values expressed in the American Library Association’s intellectual freedom documents, including The Freedom to Read Statement. We believe all Vermonters deserve free access to materials that function as windows and mirrors, both reflecting individuals’ experiences and providing expanded, diverse views of the world (Bishop, 1990). We also believe that people are only truly free when they can read freely.

Jointly issued by the governing boards of the Vermont School Library Association and the Vermont Library Association, January 2024.

REFERENCES

American Library Association. “The Freedom To Read Statement.” ALA Advocacy, 2004,
https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/freedomreadstatement

Bishop, Rudine Simms. “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.” Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, vol. 6, no. 3, 1990.
https://scenicregional.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Mirrors-Windows-and-Sliding-Glass-Doors.pdf

Vermont Library Association Conference 2024 Call for Proposals

The Vermont Library Association (VLA) is seeking presenters for “Libraries Empowering Communities: Standing Together in Uncertain Times,” our 129th annual conference scheduled for Monday, May 20, 2024. Proposals are due by Monday, March 4, 2024.

Libraries are facing unprecedented challenges to our profession. Through this one-day conference, we seek ways to empower and connect our communities with resources, prepare to protect intellectual freedom, and offer solidarity from our smallest libraries to our biggest. Learning from each other is powerful and we hope you will share your expertise with fellow library professionals.

We seek presentations of varying topics, but especially encourage proposals on the topics suggested below and sessions that can be scaled to suit smaller and larger libraries.

Topic suggestions:

  • Intellectual Freedom
    • Banned books
    • Book and/or program challenges
    • Censorship
    • Privacy
  • Writing policies to prepare and protect our communities
  • Mitigating the effects of climate change on our collections,  buildings, communities
  • Providing services to unhoused populations/underserved populations
  • Practical ideas for smaller libraries
  • Protecting the self (e.g. self-care, managing stress, preventing burnout)

Sessions will be 50 minutes in length and will include:

  • Hands-on workshop with an activity / discussion
  • Traditional presentation with time for questions
  • Panel with best practices / case studies
  • Author talk with reading
  • Vendor presentations
  • Book Awards and VLA Awards
  • VLA Division roundtable discussions
  • Brief presentation of a single example or project as part of a longer program: 5 Minutes of Fame/Spark presentation

Please submit your proposal online using this form. If your proposal is accepted, the main presenter will receive free admission to the conference. The deadline for proposals is Monday, March 4, 2024.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Maria Avery, she/her
VLA 2024 Conference Planning Committee Co-Chair
Community Outreach Manager, University of Vermont Libraries
VLAConference24@vermontlibraries.org

Procedure for Developing a Vermont Library Association Issue Statement

1 – Any Vermont Library Association (VLA) member may propose that VLA develop a statement around an issue by emailing their suggestion to VLA’s executive committee. Executive committee member names and emails are on this page: https://vermontlibraries.org/about/directory

2 – The executive committee votes on this, assigns someone to draft the statement, and alerts the entire board and the person who submitted the suggestion that this is in progress. The board has three to five days to finalize the vote. If the executive committee votes not to write a statement on the suggested issue, the president will email the person who made the suggestion with the reason.

3 – Once the statement is drafted, it is reviewed by the entire board with suggestions to the author. The entire board has three to five days to comment on the draft.

4 – A second draft based on edits from the suggestions is shared with the entire membership for comment. The membership is given five to seven business days to comment on the draft.

5 – If there are no significant changes to the substance of the statement based on edits from the comment period then the statement is final. If there are significant changes to the substance of the statement based on edits from the comment period then the revised statement should be approved by a majority of the board. The board has three working days to approve.

6 – The final statement is emailed by the president to the digital communications coordinator/s (https://vermontlibraries.org/about/directory) for posting to VLA’s website and social media accounts; and to all current members. The board may decide to also issue a press release.

7 – These timelines are guidelines and may be adjusted due to unforeseen issues.

Informational press releases may be published by a variety of section leaders without prior approval.

Adopted by the Vermont Library Association Board of Trustees, November 2023

Franklin County Vermont Public Library Tour November 17

Franklin County is chock full of wonderful public libraries. Come see the buildings, meet the staff, and admire how these libraries do what Vermont libraries do. This is a great opportunity to meet other librarians and other library lovers. This Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, tour is organized by Josh Worman, director of Haston Library, and the other libraries of FLARE — Franklin Libraries Are Really Excellent. Youth librarians, you won’t want to miss the light-filled second floor spaces dedicated to youth at St. Albans Free Library.

10 a.m. Enosburgh Public Library
11 a.m.. Haston Library
12 p.m. Swanton Public Library
1 p.m. Lunch at St. Albans Free Library – BYO lunch or buy locally

2 p.m. St. Albans Free Library (with coffee bar – yay!)
3 p.m. Fairfax Community Library

Catherine Goldsmith
President, VLA Public Libraries Section
Director, Starksboro Public Library

Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont Final Report

The Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont submitted their final report to the Vermont General Assembly on November 1, 2023.

The group was formed in 2021 when the Vermont State Legislature passed Act 66 (S.115) “relating to making miscellaneous changes in education laws”, which was signed by Governor Phil Scott on June 7, 2021. The group was charged with studying the state’s libraries with the goal of strengthening and supporting libraries of all sizes and improving library services for the public.

The 939-page report is available on the Vermont General Assembly website at Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont. It covers facilities, technology, collections, programming, inclusive and accessible services, intellectual freedom, library structures and organizations, staffing, continuing education, emergency preparedness, safety, and social services.

“Not only will the report start important conversations among municipal and library leaders, but it will also serve as a reference about the invaluable services libraries provide in this state for many years to come,” said State Librarian and Commissioner of Libraries Catherine Delneo, who chaired the working group. “It is an important mirror for the library community that provides context for decision makers, library workers, and the Vermonters we serve.”

The members of the working group were:

Maria Avery, MA, Community Outreach Manager, University of Vermont Libraries (Burlington), Academic Library Representative

Jeannette Bair, Retired, Former Director of Rochester Public Library (Rochester), Public Library Representative

Meg Boisseau Allison, M.Ed., High School Librarian, U-32 High School (Montpelier), Past President (2020-2023) and Legislative Concerns Chair (2023-2026) of the Vermont School Library Association

Catherine Delneo, MLS, Working Group Chair, State Librarian and Commissioner of the Department of Libraries (Barre)

Denise Hersey, MA, MLS, Director, Dana Health Sciences Library, University of Vermont (Burlington), Academic Library Representative

Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, MScm, Executive Director, Vermont Humanities (Montpelier)

Andy Kolovos, MLS, PhD, Associate Director and Archivist, Vermont Folklife (Middlebury), Trustee, Brownell Library (Essex Junction), Friends and Trustees Section Representative, Vermont Library Association

Kelly McCagg, MLS, CPLA Director, Burnham Memorial Library (Colchester), Vice President (2021-2022), President (2022-2023), and Past President (2023-2024) of the Vermont Library Association

Karen McCalla, MLS, Teacher Librarian, Mill River Union Middle/High School (North Clarendon), Representative, Vermont School Library Association

Susan O’Connell, MLSm Director, Craftsbury Public Library (Craftsbury), Public Library Representative

Wendy Sharkey, MSc, MLS, (Expected December 2023) Head of Circulation Department, IT, and Cataloging, Bennington Free Library, Public Library Representative

See also: VLA Executive Committee Seeks Member Input for Strategic Actions

Last update January 16, 2024

Vermont Library Association green and white logo, and American Library Association red, blue, and white logo.

ALA Donates $3,500 to Assist Vermont Libraries Damaged by Floods, Encourages More Donations

Catastrophic flooding in July 2023 impacted the state of Vermont, including many libraries. Seventeen public libraries suffered damage to their buildings and loss of resources. Thanks to support from American Library Association (ALA) members and other library supporters around the country, the ALA Disaster Relief Fund is sending $3,500 to the Vermont Library Association (VLA) to disburse to those libraries hardest hit and in need of financial assistance.

Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, the state capitol, suffered major damage to infrastructure and was not open to the public for several months. Staff provided curbside pickup of library materials and provided internet access outside the building.

Johnson Public Library is providing library services from its temporary location in the Johnson Masonic Temple, while work on the library building continues. Post-flood building repairs at the Johnson Public Library building include heating, electrical, flooring, and insulation installation.

Water flooded the South Londonderry Free Library through both the roof and the basement during the storms. The library continued service to the public despite having on-going repairs.

“ALA thanks the Vermont Department of Libraries and the Vermont Library Association for their support and assistance to library staff and the communities they serve,” said Michael Dowling, director of the ALA Chapter Relations Office, in a press release.

The American Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund provides monies to libraries in the U.S. and around the world that have been damaged or destroyed due to natural or man-made disasters. Donations to Vermont libraries can be made on the ALA Disaster Relief Fund web page. Please type “Vermont” in the tribute line.

The American Library Association is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services.

Vermont Library Association Marks Banned Books Week, Oct. 1-7

In 2023, Banned Books Week is no longer a warning about what might happen if censorship goes unchecked, but what is happening.

Libraries and schools around the country are under attack, including violence and threats of violence, for providing reading materials and a safe space to enjoy them.

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read, and spotlights attempts to censor books in libraries, schools, and bookstores.

The American Library Association (ALA) maintains lists of books that have been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on these efforts across the country, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The theme for Banned Books Week 2023 is “Let Freedom Read.”

The ALA reports that “in a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago.”

That total was almost double the 729 challenges reported in 2021. The ALA said 2,571 unique titles were targeted, also a record, and that most of them were by or about LGBTQIA+ people, and / or Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

“The right to determine what we read and think is critical to our free and democratic society,” said Oceana Wilson, President of the Vermont Library Association. “It is imperative that we recognize that the consequences of banning books go far beyond withdrawing an individual book from circulation. These efforts represent a threat, involving the erasure of both people and history, to the foundation of American democracy.”

Most of the concerns expressed by Vermont librarians to date have been in terms of self-censorship; that is, libraries opting not to provide certain materials or programs out of fear of being targeted for abuse. Only by a unified effort can we stand strong to provide our readers and visitors the rich, varied, and welcoming content that they have the First Amendment right to read.

Resources for your library are available at the links above, at Banned Books Week Promotional Tools, and at Unite Against Book Bans.

Please reach out to the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Vermont Library Association if you need help with Banned Books Week or any other censorship issue. Email Intellectual Freedom Committee chair Randal Smathers at randal@rutlandfree.org or at ifc@vermontlibraries.org.

Vermont Library Association Statement of Support for ALA

The Vermont Library Association (VLA) affirms its support for the American Library Association (ALA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization that develops, promotes, and improves library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

The American Library Association has a representative in Vermont, Chapter Councilor Jessamyn West, who has served in this position since 2020.

The ALA:

  • Promotes the Library Bill of Rights, affirming that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and Freedom to Read, affirming Americans can make their own decisions about what they read and believe.
  • Supports First Amendment rights to free speech, thought, and opinion;
  • Is composed of and serves people of all demographics and ideologies;
  • Is not a governing body and has no authority over the governance of Vermont libraries, which have a wide range of organizing structures;
  • Is governed by a council and executive board elected by the membership, including a representative from the Vermont Library Association;
  • Provides information about library best practices to its membership, and creates public relations campaigns that promote library services;
  • Offers professional development, publications, and conferences to its membership.

ALA is an effective advocate for funding from the federal government through the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) grants to states. Through ALA’s efforts with its members and allies, including the Chief Officers of State Library Associations, IMLS has increased its base funding nationally. The Vermont Department of Libraries has seen an increase of $326,077 or 26% from 2019 to 2023, to $1,247,111 annually.

During the pandemic years, ALA pushed for further support for libraries across the country. The Vermont Department of Libraries received additional critical dollars, $56,384 from the CARES Act and $2,135,819 from the American Rescue Plan Act.

ALA is the second-largest grant funder to libraries. Since 2021, ALA has awarded 44 libraries in Vermont a total of $276,000 for digital training workshops, bolstering technology in small and rural libraries, STEM resources, and other professional development and resources to help libraries better serve the needs of their communities.

The Vermont Library Association Executive Board
September 2023
Contact:
Oceana Wilson (she, her)
VLA President
president@vermontlibraries.org

Fall 2023 Professional Development Grant Deferred to Spring 2024

The Vermont Library Association (VLA) Scholarship and Awards Committee did not receive any applications for the fall 2023 Professional Development Grant. Considering the recent flooding in Vermont, and the added pressures it is putting on libraries and their communities, the committee has decided to defer these funds to the spring 2024 Professional Grant Funding opportunity. The committee may award up to $250 for a Vermont Library Association member to attend a workshop, conference, or continuing education course. Therefore, in the spring, the committee will award two $250 grants. We sincerely hope that by then library staff will have the capacity to apply for these funds.

Thank you, thank you,

Pamela Cartier (she/her)
VLA Scholarship and Awards Committee Chair