Hi, library friends. It’s the season of giving in this year of great need, and as you begin to think about how your year-end donations can make a difference, please remember Sharon’s own Baxter Memorial Library.
As 2020 comes to a close, we at the Baxter Memorial Library (BML) can’t help but feel grateful – grateful that this year is ending! It’s been a year of unrelenting challenges, changes, and worry for all on planet Earth, but we are also brimming with hope. BML has been through a series of transitions, but one thing remains constant: our little library’s place at the heart of our community, a place of simplicity and comfort – because who isn’t comforted by books? This vestige of peace in our world of conflict is made possible by the support of the Sharon community.
Librarian Shana Hickman has put tremendous energy into her service to our library, instilling the work with creativity and gentleness. The role of small town librarian goes far beyond just the handling of books, both in scope and kind. Here is a glimpse of Shana’s work in her own words:
“Of course, there’s checking books in and out for patrons, suggesting things to read, and ordering material that they’ll enjoy, but that’s been just the beginning. I’ve hosted game nights, author talks, and coffee and cake gatherings for community members each week in a town that had nowhere else to gather. I’ve found myself helping older patrons with new technology, creating a safe and engaging space for children to gather after school before their parents finish work, showing people how to apply for government assistance, finding shelter for the night for a homeless man passing through town, talking with a bereaved widower about how much the library meant to his wife, discussing empathy with a sixth grade boy, learning Russian from a high school student who was also just learning, helping a nurse get recertified so she would be able to find a job, and much more.”
And then, the pandemic arrived, and everything shifted. Parents were struggling to educate their children, fear of job loss took over people’s minds, and anxiety about the coronavirus was a constant companion for nearly everyone, including children. Even though the doors were closed, the library was still the most important place in town. The library’s small parking lot was often filled with people using the free wi-fi. Checkouts of online audiobooks and ebooks skyrocketed. The website was rearranged to highlight online resources – instructions on applying for unemployment, how to join recovery meetings such as AA and NA online, how to find childcare and food and legal assistance. There were resources to help families homeschool, as well as resources to calm their fears about homeschooling. And Shana curated activities for children and adults to keep their minds off their fears, even if just for a little while – online museum tours, fun and educational podcasts, open-mic poetry readings, backyard scavenger hunts, and more. In order to engender a sense of community, she set up a weekly craft hour for children online and a “show-off show” for Sharon residents of all ages to “show off” the things they’d created during the quarantine.
The role of our library is much more than a place to find books – it offers a humanitarian service to our community. Because our town does not have a public community gathering space, our library is the tether to our neighbors and to our small town life.
The BML budget is small, and now, due to the pandemic, the trustee-sponsored fundraisers will not be able to fill in the gaps. Last year, in part through donations from community members, we were able to purchase new laptop computers which we are eager to share with patrons. Looking toward the future, we have big dreams for our library – new books, new programming, a fenced yard with comfortable seating where neighbors young and old can gather. You have the power to make these dreams a reality.
Please visit Baxter Memorial Library in the coming year – there are so many ways to do so now: curbside, appointment, drop-in! – and consider volunteering. We are eager for your ideas as we continue to shape this special place of community, education, enjoyment, and literacy to meet the future needs of Sharon. We look forward, with hope and conviction, to a time when we can all gather together to hug, laugh, cry, and know that we came out on the other side of 2020 with full hearts.
Thank you for considering Baxter Memorial Library in your annual giving. Gifts to the library are tax deductible. You can send us a check through the mail (see the address below) or simply drop it into the book return slot in the front door.
The BML Trustees: Mary Stoddard, Carole Bando, Stephanie Gergely-Davis, Marian Weatherbee, and Emma Basham
I/We would like to support Baxter Memorial Library.
_____$25 _____$50 _____$100 _____$250 ____Other
Please make checks payable to: Baxter Memorial Library P.O. Box 87, Sharon, VT 05065
______ I would like to volunteer.