By Jacob Knipes
Some of Vermont’s top librarians visited Sherburne Memorial Library in Killington this past Tuesday, Aug. 9.
The visit came as part of an initiative by the Vermont Department of Libraries to tour every county in Vermont and visit the local libraries. Joshua Muse, consultant of library technology for the department, detailed how the tours come after a period of turnover for the department where most staff only knew local librarians through Zoom meetings.
“We basically talked about the fact that we hadn’t seen people for a number of years, so we made the collective decision to go out into the world and visit as many libraries as we can,” Muse said. “The approach that we settled on was to do a series of tours to counties, or in some cases we do two counties at once, and we just go and visit as many libraries as we can.
For their Rutland County tour, the team of eight consultants broke into two groups. One group visited libraries in Fair Haven, West Rutland and Rutland while the other group went to libraries in Pittsfield, Pittsford and Clarendon. The tour culminated in Killington.
“We got to see seven libraries today in total, and when the tour is over it will be seventy libraries across the state that we will have seen and that’s wonderful. It is really exciting and gives us a much better idea of what things look like in the field, especially for new staff members,” Muse said.
Their Killington visit began with a tour of Sherburne Memorial Library’s summer theming. This summer has seen the library go “under water” as part of the national library theme Oceans of Possibilities. Decked out with fish and treasure, the library drew a positive response from the state librarians.
“It’s always nice to get a positive response,” said Jane Ramos, library director for Sherburne Memorial Library. “We put a lot of work into the decorations this summer…Oceans of Possibilities was easy to work with so we tried to do our best to make the library welcoming for the kids and the families that we see during the summer.”
After their tour, the consultants began a meeting with several local librarians to discuss the current library landscape. One of the main items of discussion was the Palace Project, an initiative by non-profit LYRASIS and the Vermont Department of Libraries to create a centralized resource for different companies’ ebooks and audiobook offerings.
“Palace is definitely a work in progress, but the goal behind Palace has been to centralize that as much as possible to provide a product where you can access the ebooks and audiobooks from multiple different devices at once…It’s a way for a library to work with multiple ebook and audiobook vendors but have everything show up in one place,” Muse said.
Ramos explained how such advancements in library technology have expanded her offerings.
“Rural libraries are offering things they were never able to offer before because of the new technologies. We can now offer downloadable books to people who live out in the middle of nowhere if they have an internet signal, which is lucky if they have, and they can download through the library,” Ramos said.
Another topic of focus was the continued impact of Covid on library operations, where several local librarians reported lower patron numbers due to the pandemic’s lingering impacts. Other matters discussed included preservation funding for historic libraries and summer programming resources.
Ramos made clear that as libraries have grown in recent years with new resources, the local library has evolved past just books.
“We are not just check in, check out books. If you need help with a resume, if you need to know what the number is and you are looking for help for your family with food or anything. We are the big resource in Killington, we know who’s here and where to send you,” Ramos said.