On March 15, 2023

Please save our books

Dear Editor,

The citizens of Castleton, along with students, faculty and staff of Castleton University, are taking action. We held a book read-in Monday, March 6, to show support for retaining print books at the Vermont State University libraries.

The read-in began on the Calvin Coolidge Library steps at 5:30 p.m. and everyone was asked to bring a print book to read. With books in hand, we walked through campus to the Jeffords Center to welcome Castleton residents as they arrived to attend the Town Meeting. The read-in ended at 6:30, before the Town Meeting started.

Reading in public is a peaceful and effective way to demonstrate the important role print books play in the lives of students, faculty, staff and all residents.

The Vermont State University plans to dispose of almost all print books and convert to an all-digital library. This will be a disaster for everyone. There are no plans to digitize existing print books before they are eliminated. Only books and print materials available in digital format will be available in the “new and improved” library.

Most of the 130,000 print books now in the Calvin Coolidge Library will be lost to everyone forever. Vermont residents not associated with the university will no longer have access to the digital materials in the “new and improved” library. 

This is a terrible and completely unnecessary loss to the town of Castleton, to Rutland County, to the state of Vermont and to the university.

While we do what we can in Castleton, we ask that others also take action by holding public read-ins throughout Vermont, including at the Statehouse. Print books and other physical materials must be retained side by side with digital materials to preserve our history, our knowledge and our educational standards for the benefit of all current and future Vermonters.

Print books can last forever but digital books last only as long as the publisher/vendor says they do, or until the electricity goes out.

Bill Wood, Castleton

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