Themed Learning Kits, Games, & Puzzles

Thanks to the American Library Association’s Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant, Baxter Memorial Library received funding that allowed us to reinvigorate the children’s area, adding lots of great new nonfiction books, as well as themed learning kits, new games, comfy furnishings, and charming decor.  

It’s taken quite a bit of work, but (drumroll, please)… the themed learning kits are finally ready for checkout – along with lots of new games and puzzles!  What’s a themed learning kit, you ask?  Let’s say your kids want to go birdwatching.  You can check out the Birding Kit which contains binoculars, a field guide, a CD of birdsongs, and a few children’s books about birds.  Or maybe your kiddos love to tell stories.  Check out the Storytelling Kit with two decks of story cards, a set of story dice, printouts of comic panels & story writing/drawing paper, and (of course) a few books on storytelling.  

Each kit is available for a two-week checkout.  They aren’t easy to find in the online catalog, so if you’re interested in borrowing one, just send an email to sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com or call the library at 802-763-2875. 

Available Kits

Birding (binoculars, bird songs CD, field guide, books)
Cells (animal & plant cell models and books)
Dinosaurs (write & wipe dino sheets, dino puppets, books)
Electricity (Snap Circuits Jr. set and books)
Gardening (gardening tools, seed pack, books) We’re looking for donations of seed packets to include in this kit
Insects & Spiders (bug hut, magnifying glass, books)
Juggling (juggling balls and books)
Mindfulness (mindfulness cards, books)
Money (play money, Exact Change game, books)
Music (musical instruments and books)
Shapes (shape game and books)
Stargazing (home planetarium, star chart, books)
Steel Tongue Drum (drum and songbooks)
Storytelling (story cards, story dicce, comic panel and story writing printouts, books)
Telling Time (learning clock with activities and books)
Yoga (yoga mat, yoga pose cards, book)

But wait!  Don’t forget the games!  Baxter Memorial Library also has lots of games available for lending. (If you’re looking for a fun way to incorporate math into everyday life, games are a must!)

Available Games

Zeus on the Loose
Fracto
Fraction War 
Addition & Subtraction War
Multiplication War
Division War
Pass the Pigs
Fluxx
SET
Sleeping Queens
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
LCR (dice game)
Zingo
Bird Bingo
Shut-the-Box
Uno
Boggle
Yahtzee
Scrabble
Connect 4
I Never Forget a Face (matching game)
Dr. Seuss Matching Game
Pop! the Pig
Multiple decks of playing cards

We’re still looking for donations of interesting puzzles to add to our lendable puzzle collection (both for kids and adults), but we’ve already gotten some dandies that are ready to check out.  Stop by and take a look – and stay tuned for news about our upcoming makerspace!

Enriching Our Children’s Collection

Photo credit: Chen Mizrach at Unsplash

Earlier this year, Baxter Memorial Library was selected as one of 300 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities. The competitive award came with a $3,000 grant to help BML support area youth, including those being educated at home, with an updated and enhanced collection of educational materials and other resources.

Originally, the focus was on the homeschooling community in the area, so we held a virtual discussion with homeschoolers to find out what would enrich their homeschooling experiences. After that discussion, we decided to open it up to suggestions from all families.  We crafted a survey that asked what Sharon families would like to find when they walk into the library – what would make the library more appealing and more useful for them, especially when it comes to educational resources – and not surprisingly, the answers from both groups were nearly identical: themed learning kits and equipment available to check out were the clear winners, with an inviting children’s area, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) resources, more nonfiction children’s books, and board games also making a show. 

Sounds great!  Now, where to begin?

First, we’ll be creating themed kits and adding them to the collection in the coming months.  Imagine being able to check out books on bird identification, along with binoculars, a notebook for observations, and a CD filled with birdsongs.  Or, checking out a book on yoga for kids that comes with a mat and cards showing the positions, or books on gardening that come with gardening tools, or books on addition and subtraction that come with fun math games, or even books on juggling that come with balls!  How cool is that? 

Next, we’ll put out a call for fun equipment that might be languishing in closets or basements so that we can begin circulating outdoor/sports gear, microscopes, art supplies, and whatever else comes our way.  We’ll also adorn the children’s area with cushions for the sitting nook, more soft seating for little readers, and children’s book-themed decor. Finally, we’ll add more nonfiction books, puzzles, and educational (and fun!) board games for checkout. 

Happily, we’ve received additional American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant money from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Vermont Department of Libraries which will allow us to purchase STEAM and makerspace resources in the coming months. Look for robotics, coding, engineering, and architechtural toys, as well as lots of fun art and craft supplies to be added very soon!

Thank you for helping us to reimagine what our children’s area can be! 2022 is already shaping up to be a spectacular year at Baxter Memorial Library!

Survey for Families – CLOSED

The survey has ended. A hearty thank you to all who participated! If you have ideas for enriching the library’s educational resources, please email your suggestions to sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com.

What would you like to find when you walk into your library? What would make BML more appealing to your family? Themed learning kits? Educational games available to check out? Youth project fairs? Let us know – we’re all ears!  Recently, the library received a grant to update and enhance our collection of educational materials, programs and other resources.  While a portion of the grant has allowed for the purchase of lots of new nonfiction children’s books, the remaining funds are to be spent however the community would find most helpful.  After talking with homeschoolers in the area about what would be most beneficial for them, we’re opening the conversation to ALL families in the Sharon area!

So, tell us what you’d like to see at your library!  

BML’s Annual Appeal

Dear neighbor, 

2021 has been quite the year, hasn’t it?  And on the heels of 2020, no less!  Thank goodness the library has been here through it all.  Baxter Memorial Library is a unique and incredible place that serves EVERYONE – young and old, rich and poor, regardless of race, gender, religion, or political affiliation – providing unfettered access to almost limitless knowledge.  The library is here to make it possible for those without reliable Internet access to apply for jobs or unemployment, sign up for services, file their taxes, or complete homework assignments.  During the pandemic, it has even allowed some people to work from “home” when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able.  The library offers opportunities to engage our curiosity and discover new passions.  And, of course, it provides more than 6,000 books and audio-visual items (and access to tens of thousands more through the interlibrary loan system) for both research and relaxation – and who doesn’t need a little relaxation after the last few years? 

We’re so happy we’ve been able to keep our doors wide open this year!  Not only is it delightful to see everyone, but part of the wonder of a library is browsing, being inspired by the shelves, and taking something home you weren’t searching for, something that might change your life.  We’ve seen that happen again and again this year.  Check out these statistics from the past year:

  • 53 new patrons
  • over 2000 patron visits (even with the pandemic!)
  • 3382 checkouts
  • 1055 ebook & digital audiobook checkouts
  • 435 interlibrary loans from other libraries
  • 8 museum passes used over 50 times
  • 472 new items added to the collection

Wow!  If you haven’t visited the library in a while, stop by and see all you’ve been missing!  Those statistics are only the beginning, though.  This year we applied for and received grants that have enabled us to add new technology for patrons, continue our popular interlibrary loan service, greatly update and enhance our collection of children’s nonfiction books, and begin to implement educational opportunities for Sharon’s youth, including installing a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) makerspace!  (Be sure to look for it in early 2022!)

Baxter Memorial Library relies on donations from the Sharon community to continue to provide quality programming for children, digital literacy assistance for adults, new books and movies for all ages, and community programs and services – from scarecrow making to summer reading to workforce development with Vermont job center specialists – all for free to everyone in our community.

Our goal is to continue to be the heart of Sharon, Vermont, but we can’t do that without your help. The gift that you offer today will provide the stability we need to continue to serve our community.  Can we count on you?  Please consider any amount you give to be an investment in the future of Sharon and a gift to your children and grandchildren as well as to the entire Sharon community. 

Thank you for considering Baxter Memorial Library in your annual giving.  Gifts to the library are tax deductible.

Sincerely,
The BML Trustees: Mary Stoddard, Stephanie Gergely Davis, Marian Weatherbee, Emma Basham, and Kit Hood; and Library Director Shana Hickman


Please make checks payable to: Baxter Memorial Library P.O. Box 87, Sharon, VT 05065

Email: ___________________________________________________________________________________

                           ☐ Add me to the mailing list              ☐ I would like to volunteer

Saturday – Make Your Own Scarecrow!

Well, the leaves are turning and the mornings are crisp. Looks like fall is here whether we’re ready for it or not, so why not celebrate? Remember the scarecrows in front of the library, 7 Stars, and the town offices last year?  Want to make one of your own?  We’ll have the frames, hay, burlap and fabric paint; all you need to do is bring some funky clothes!  Let’s decorate the town with fun fall scarecrows!  This is a FREE event that’s perfect for all ages.  Please email the library at sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com and let us know you plan to attend so we can bring enough frames for everyone.

The Annual Plant, Book & Bake Sale Is Almost Here!

Plant, Book and Bake Sale – Saturday, June 5

Baxter Memorial Library is preparing for our annual Plant, Book & Bake Sale on Saturday, June 5th!  That’s right, it’s back, and you – and your plants, books, and baked goodies – are invited! 

Plant Donations

Right now, we’re asking gardeners to contribute whatever they grow best: perennials, annuals, veggies or houseplants – all are welcome.  If you’d like assistance digging plants to donate, we have volunteers to help.  Drop off donated plants in the back of the library Tuesday, June 1 through Friday, June 4.  Email questions to kithood3@gmail.com or give us a call at 763-2875.

Book Donations

Have books, DVDs, or audiobooks on CD that are looking for new homes? We’d love to have them for our sale! You can drop off items the week of the sale: June 1 – June 4, 12-6pm. Please don’t leave donations on the porch. Because finding homes for unwanted books is extraordinarily difficult these days, we are only able to accept sellable items in good condition:

What We Can Accept

• Hardbacks in good condition
• Paperbacks in good condition
• DVDs
• Audiobooks on CD

What We Can’t Accept

• Encyclopedias
• Textbooks
• Computer manuals
• Travel guides
• Condensed books
• Magazines
• Vinyl records or cassette tapes
• VHS tapes
• Items in poor condition

Baked Goods Donations

Want to help the library by baking something scrumptious?  We’re looking for pies, tea breads, cookies, cakes, bars, or anything else that would satisfy a sweet tooth!  Please let Shana know what you plan to contribute by emailing the library or calling 763-2875.

BML Awarded $3,000 National Grant for Small and Rural Libraries


Baxter Memorial Library has been selected as one of 300 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities. The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help BML support area youth, particularly those being educated at home, with an updated and enhanced collection of educational materials, programs and other resources.

The public library is at the heart of homeschooling for so many reasons – financial, social, and inspirational. As a former home educator, I was dependent upon the public library to provide engaging resources, rich programming and unique inspiration for my (now grown) son. Now that I’m a library director, I see how the spirited curiosity and energy of homeschooling students and the dedication and passion of their parents make the library a better place for everyone.

But, without access to quality educational materials and experiences, homeschooled children are in danger of falling behind their public schooled peers. Through this grant, Baxter Memorial Library hopes to prevent that from happening.   

Rather than sitting back and waiting for homeschooling families to ask for what they need, Baxter Memorial Library would like to take the initiative and find out how we can best support both those who are seasoned home educators and those who are new to alternative education.  What resources would enrich their lives?  How can we best serve them?

As part of the grant, I’ll host a conversation with area residents about how the library can best support home educators and make use of the grant funds to update and enrich the educational resources available to homeschooling – and, ultimately, all – families. It’s my hope that, with this grant and a bit of dedication, Baxter Memorial Library can become a hub for homeschooling resources in the Upper Valley community. New homeschoolers will be able to find local support to help them get started, connect to fellow homeschoolers, learn about the incredible resources scattered throughout the area, and even find local experts tailored to their children’s interests – and veteran homeschoolers will appreciate an enhanced children’s collection, regular meetups, and engaging programs.

An incredibly wonderful bonus, of course, will be that all children, not just homeschoolers, will benefit from an enhanced selection of books and other circulating materials as well as inspirational and educational programming.

If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact me at sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com or call 763-2875.


“Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).”

BML’s Annual Appeal

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.

Sincerely,

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

Name/Address: ______________________________________________________________

Email: _______________________________________________________________________

______ I would like to volunteer.

Storytree with Jools – Saturday at 4:00!

Celebrate the coming of fall with Storytree with Jools Skeet on Saturday, October 3 at 4:00 at Baxter Memorial Library! (Rain date: October 4 at 4:00) Jools will offer a fantabulous, interactive story adventure IN PERSON outside the library! Please bring your own blankets, and remember to consider social distancing guidelines (including masks and six feet of separation between you and other families).

Have you ever wanted to teleport to another world? Solve a mystery? Dig for hidden treasure? Well now is your chance! Storytree will give you the opportunity to participate in an exciting interactive storytelling adventure. Using the magic of our imagination and an array of enticing, colorful story bags that contain weird and wonderful objects, you will be part of a journey that could take you ANYWHERE!!

Each child will receive a book and a take-home craft!

Register now by emailing sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com

2020 Summer Reading Program Guide

Library dragon
drawing by Puput Wira Satya
puputwirasatya@gmail.com

Welcome to Baxter Memorial Library’s summer reading program! I’m Baxter, your helpful library dragon. Included in your packet are reading and writing challenges, lots of fun writing prompts, stickers, notebooks, magnetic bookmarks and more!

Do you have to do everything?  Of course not!  Pick and choose what looks most fun to you.  Do you like to color?  (There are some pretty cool coloring sheets.)  Maybe you prefer to draw.  (Did you see the create-your-own-books?  Or the blank comic strips?)  Or write.  (Check out the 100 crazy writing prompts!)   Hey, I’ve even included an invitation to a weekly virtual craft hour!

What about the usual reading log?  It’s here, too!  You can track any way you like! 

1. You can use the sticker sheet and small stickers that are included.  Write on the sticker sheet how much reading time each sticker stands for: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, a half hour – it’s up to you! 
2. You can write down the names of the books you read.
3. You can write down the names of the books you read and how long you read them.
4. You can draw a picture of each book you read.
5. You can take a photo of yourself with each book and send them to sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com.

Have another idea?  That probably works, too!

How do you get books from the library these days?  Curbside pickup!  Just call or email to let us know what books you want to read, and we’ll gather them up, get them ready for you, and put them on the porch for you to pick up.  Keep track, and at the end of the summer, turn in your reading log, and you’ll receive tickets that you can use to enter our end-of-summer raffle.

“How can I earn extra tickets?” I hear you asking.  (I have very good hearing.  I am a dragon, after all.)  Completing the reading challenge on the yellow sheet, or the writing challenge on the orange sheet will earn you extra tickets.  (Yes, yes, I hear you.  That writing challenge is huge!  Okay, even just completing a line – like in BINGO – will earn extra tickets.)  Use the create-your-own-books in the packet and earn extra tickets.   Or, maybe you have a better idea!  If it’s reading or writing related, it very well might earn you some extra tickets – just show me what you’ve got!

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for… the PRIZES!  The library will be raffling off some stellar prizes later this year, including lots of brand new books! At the end of the summer, you’ll be able to use your raffle tickets on whatever prizes you like most – maybe you’ll win!  More info on prizes will be coming soon.

Have fun reading and writing all summer long! If you need anything from me (another sticker log, some coloring pages, more books – you name it), just let me know.  A library dragon always loves to help.

Happy reading!