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Vermont Reads March: Book One

Have you read this year’s Vermont Reads book yet?

March: Book One is the true story of U.S. Congressman John Lewis’s youth and early involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, told in graphic formVermont Reads is a program of the Vermont Humanities Council.

Join Vermonters in reading the book, then join library staff for either

Book Discussion

Wednesday, November 13
4:00 pm
Library Media Viewing Room


Wednesday, November 20
6:30 pm
Castleton Free Library
(opposite the end of Seminary St. on Main Street)

The CU library has multiple copies to loan. Ask at the Circulation desk.
(It’s only 121 pages long!)

More about the book:

“It is the first of a trilogy written by civil rights icon John Lewis, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and award-winning graphic artist Nate Powell.

Lewis was chairman of the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was considered one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement. He has served in the US Congress since 1987 and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2011.

Book One tells of Lewis’s childhood in rural Alabama, his desire as a young man to be a preacher, his life-changing interactions with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the nonviolent sit-ins he joined at lunch counters in Nashville as a means of undermining segregation.

The narrative continues in subsequent books to tell of the 1963 March on Washington (Book Two) and the march across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 (Book Three). All three volumes illustrate the story of Lewis’s commitment to nonviolent protest in the pursuit of social justice.”

Vermont Humanities Council website

The library also has Book Two and Book Three in the trilogy. Click for more info about those books, the call number and to see if the book is checked out.

For more resources, see a discussion guide from the Anti-Defamation League:

Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, after Vermont celebrated our first official Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 14, so we are continuing our recognition of our land’s native heritage and the indigenous communities that have survived into the 21st century.

In May of 2019 Governor Phil Scott signed a bill officially replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and issued the proclamation below. (Click on the image for the PDF).  It states, “Vermont recognizes it was founded and built upon lands first inhabited by Indigenous Peoples of this region – the Abenaki, their ancestors and allies – and acknowledges and honors these members of the community.” The federal government still recognizes Columbus Day.

To learn about why states are making this transition, here’s a piece from National Public Radio:  Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day?

The library had a book display up in October on relevant topics. Click to see the list of books featured.

For advice on what to read to learn more about Native Americans, here are some bibliographies:

Essential Reading list from First Nations Development Institute

Native American Children’s Literature Recommended Reading List from First Nations Development Institute

You can learn more about the people indigenous to any particular land with a new app and website called Native-Land.ca. Here’s what the whole U.S. looks like with indigenous groups sketched in, below. Click on the image to go to the website and browse, or search by address, to see what tribes were native to any given region.




Banned Books Week

September 22-28 is Banned Books Week.  Why do we celebrate Banned Books Week every year?  It’s a protest against censorship and a reminder that sometimes we need to actively protect intellectual freedom.  According the the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week website, “It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. ”

What do we mean by a “banned book”? These are books that have been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools.  They aren’t all successfully “banned,” but they have been actively singled out for censorship somewhere in the U.S.

Here are some of the reasons people give for trying to limit access to certain books. (Click on image for larger version).

Here are the most challenged books of 2018.  (Click on image for full-page version.)

Click for full list of books challenged in 2018 (.doc)

Click for a list of the most targeted books year by year

Here’s a short video about censorship and the goals of  Banned Books Week:

You can celebrate Banned Books Week by reading a “banned” book!  See a list in the CU library catalog of the most challenged books of 2017-2018.

Be Part of the Solution: Spartan Climate Action

“Far and away, the greatest threat to the ocean, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that.

— Sylvia A. Earle

Library staff are joining others on campus to form Spartan Climate Action, to help inform our community about ways to take action against climate change.  The kick-off event is a rally on September 20, joining the global youth climate strike, minus the striking part.  Dozens of books are currently on display in the library, focusing on solutions to climate change, and what we as individuals can do.  We can all learn and change our behavior, and thus change the culture–and create hope for a less dire future than the one we are headed toward.

For more information, including the demands of the strike action, see Vermont Climate Strike, which we can credit for the image above: https://vermontclimatestrike.org/

Climate Action activities at Castleton:
All are free and open to the public.

Friday Sept 20th from noon – 2 pm
Climate Action Rally. Outside, between Jeffords and Stafford Buildings. Educational and interactive activities centered around climate solutions, making personal climate pledges and calculating your own carbon footprint. Free Food! Live Music!

Thursday Sept 26th from 12:30 to 1:30 pm
Panel Discussion: Green Campus Culture in the Castleton University Library. What can Castleton University learn from Green Mountain College’s Green Campus Culture?

Friday Sept 27th from noon – 2 pm
Global Climate Rally, at the Castleton University Library. Watch Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN. Educational and interactive activities centered around climate solutions and making personal climate pledges.

Click for a video that captures the energy of the global youth climate strike.

Sign up to get involved.


Supporting the new Cannabis Studies program

The library is doing its part to support Castleton’s new Cannabis Studies Certificate program.  We have been purchasing relevant books in consultation with program coordinator Phil Lamy, and we’ve created a new resource guide.  See a handful of recently purchased books.  You might notice that several of these are checked out.  It is a popular topic.

We’re currently highlighting relevant books in a display in the library as a welcome to guests coming to campus for a conference on Friday, Sept. 13, from 1:00-5:30 pm, with time for socializing afterward, called “Cannabis: The Vermont Way.”  The conference celebrates the launch of the new certificate program at CU.

For more information on the conference

For more information on the new Cannabis Studies Certificate program:

What’s it like to work in the library?

Gabrielle Lazzaro is a senior and a double major in English Education and Theatre Arts.

Guest blogger, library student worker Gabrielle Lazzaro shares her perspective

The Calvin Coolidge Library has one of the best work study opportunities on campus. It is a quiet, relaxed place to work with flexible hours and a positive atmosphere. Here, there really is a place for students with all skill types. Student employees practice customer service as well as work independently on meditative projects. We are also often asked research questions when our experts arenʼt available. The library is not just for the book lovers, although it may or may not turn you into a leisure reader in the end.

This summer, our main project was dusting and straightening our upstairs books, preparing them for a new fall semester. This took up plenty of my working hours over the twelve weeks or so, along with shelving returned and new books. As a result Iʼve gotten to know the stacks pretty well which allowed me to better assist the high school age students who were on campus throughout the summer, including those of GIA and Upward Bound – a personal benefit for me as an aspiring teacher.

Iʼve also been able to use library resources to my own academic advantage. Just this summer I took and passed both Praxis I and Praxis II using library resources as study tools, which would not have occurred to me before I started my job here.

Working here means you get to know the ins and outs of the catalogue and the databases, saving you (and your friends) money and frustration when it comes to all kinds of school work. As an added bonus, you also acquire and become a part of a built-in support system including peers, staff, and occasionally a few therapy dogs.


Welcome to new Library Director Beth Bidlack

The Library welcomed our new Director of Library Services Beth Bidlack on August 1. Beth comes to us from New York City where she was Director of the Burke Library at the Union Theological Seminary and then Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the seminary.  She has extensive experience in all facets of library services including user services, technical services, collection analysis, budgeting, grant-writing, and library systems, and has had myriad administrative responsibilities, including accreditation processes.  She brings a wealth of skills and experience to Castleton, as well as a calm and positive demeanor which has already won over library staff.

About coming to Castleton Beth said,

“I’m looking forward to learning more about Castleton University and being part of the community. When I interviewed for the position, I was struck by the dedication of the faculty and staff and by the camaraderie and care I observed among the students. I welcome the opportunity to talk with everyone about the role of the library and the needs of the Castleton community, especially in this age of information overload and ‘fake news.'”

The previous director, Jami Yazdani, left Castleton at the end of September 2018.  Library staff rose to the challenge of being leaderless for almost a year, but are excited to work with Beth and make great things happen for the Calvin Coolidge Library and the CU community.


Watch What You Read: New Book Display

Check out the new book display in the library created by our intern from the Upward Bound program.  Fair Haven High School senior Yvonne Swinington, who also attends the Stafford Video Communication program, worked with librarian Charlotte Gerstein for half of her internship.  The other half was with the Castleton Free Library.  While here in the CU library Yvonne created a display of books which have been made into movies or TV shows which she cleverly named “Watch What You Read.”   See a list of the books in the display, which includes recent books and productions like Crazy Rich Asians and The Hate U Give, as well as classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone with the Wind.  She also created a display of cult classic films on DVD. Yvonne is interested in a career in film directing so maybe in a few years we’ll be including one of her films in our displays!  In the meantime, we are grateful that Yvonne brought her interest in film to share with us here in the library.

Yvonne’s sign:

Celebrating Pride Month

June is Pride Month for the LGBTQ community.  From the Library of Congress:

“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States…The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.”

The American Library Association (ALA) designates June GLBT Book Month™, “a nationwide celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.”

The CU library has a book display up celebrating those writings, this year especially highlighting books for children and teens, and books about making schools safe for LGBTQ young people.

And, since you clicked to “learn more,” here’s a valuable resource:

The Complete Guide to Queer Pride Flags by Ariel Sobel

And for some recommendations for Pride Month reading beyond the display in the library:

50 Unapologetically Queer Authors Share the Best LGBTQ Books of All Time
(a gallery)

157 Titles to Celebrate the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Literary Landscape

From ALA:

If you see books on these lists that are not in the CU library’s holdings, let us know and we will consider purchasing your suggested title.  Send suggestions to reference@castleton.edu.


Passport to Vermont Libraries

Castleton is participating in the Passport to Vermont Libraries program again this year.  Sponsored by the Vermont Library Association and the Vermont Department of Libraries, this program, in its 4th year, is about encouraging people to visit and enjoy all of Vermont’s libraries.

From June 1 to September 1, Vermont’s public and academic libraries will be handing out passports, encouraging Vermonters and visitors alike to visit some of Vermont’s unique, beautiful, and creative libraries:

  • The Hitchcock Memorial Library in Westfield has a natural history collection including shells, rocks, artifacts and a taxidermied two headed calf.
  • See the shoes found in the wall of the Morristown  Centennial Library.
  • Learn about the Merci Trains which sent gifts to America from France after WWII, one of which is in the Chelsea Public Library.

Local libraries will stamp your passport and some offer small prizes. Four patrons statewide (adult, young adult, child and one wild card) will receive Vermont Library Ambassador awards for visiting the most libraries.  Patrons are encouraged to post pictures and stories on the VLA Facebook page  https://facebook.com/vermontpassport

More details about the program are available at  https://vermontlibraries.org/passport

Pick up a passport, or get yours stamped (and pick up a small prize), at the circulation desk.

Explore, celebrate and enjoy our great public institutions this summer!