Episode 2 - Rockingham Free Public Library - Bellows Falls, VT

Published on 25 March 2024 at 05:27

In Episode 2, I talk with my hometown librarians at the Rockingham Free Public Library located in the town in the village of Bellows Falls, in the town of Rockingham, Vermont:  Ian Graham, Library Director, Sam Howard, Youth Services Librarian, and Pamela Johnson Spurlock, Reference and Historical Collections Librarian.

**Apologies for a bit of wonky sound 4 minutes in and again at the 8 minute mark. We had a gremlin in one of our microphones.**

Ian tells us about the library's history as one of four Carnegie libraries in Vermont and the beauty of this library building which sits on a hill overlooking the Connecticut River. 

Sam takes us downstairs and beyond to the Youth Department which offers playgroups and storytime, middle school Mad Scientist time, and much more, often partnering with other organizations in town. Sam also touched on a new grant funded program called "Engaging Beyond Our Walls" which will use gamification to make village history full of tech fun and educational.

Pamela highlights "Tech Time Tuesdays" where people can come to the library with their tech questions and also learn how to use the many online services the library offers. Pamela also shares information about RFPL's digitized historical collection of local photographs, glass plate negatives, local newspapers, yearbooks, and more that you can access on the library's  website.

And like many libraries, Rockingham is getting ready for the solar eclipse, which will be a partial eclipse in this area of Vermont. RFPL has eclipse glasses and lots of solar science programming leading up to the eclipse. Check out the library's website for more information: rockinghamlibrary.org


I'm having a blast getting new book recommendations for listeners and for myself! Here are the books we talked about on Episode 2.  Not all libraries have every book, but all of these titles are available through interlibrary loan. I have limited shelf space (and financial resources) to own all the books I've read or want to read, which is one of the many reasons I love pubic libraries.


But every now and then I find a book I want to own. If that's the case for you, I've linked the book covers to Bookshop.org a Certified B Corporation and an online alternative to the mega online sellers. Bookshop.org  lets you choose an independent bookstore that your book purchases will help support.


Now, for the books -


From Sam Howard, Youth Services Librarian
The Eyes and  the Impossible
by Dave Eggers (2023) Newbery Medal Winner - Sam describes this book as a "sweet, funny, strange little story" that is "gorgeously written."

From Pamela Spurlock-Johnson, Reference and Historical Collections Librarian

Pamela loves food history and gardening along with her reference and historical books. She'll read anything by Mark Kurlansky and British author Monty Don. 

The Core of an Onion: Peeling the Rarest Common Food - featuring more than 100 historical recipes by Mark Kurlansky (2023)
The Complete Garden: A Practical and Imaginative Guide to Every Aspect of Gardening by Monty Don (2021) 


From Ian Graham, Library Director

Ian often tells people that no one likes the books he likes, but he's had feedback from library patrons that this isn't always true. Two books that Ian recommends often are: Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead (2023) and Yellowface by R F Kuang (2023) a wonderful  that novel that "pokes fun at publishing and authors."  Ian's third book was recommended by a library patron. Island by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen (2016) was originally written in Danish and translated into English in 2021. It's a small and exquisite (in the words of one library patron) book.


And I offered two quirky books with big hearts. The Invisible Husband of Mrs Frick by Colleen Oakley (2021) a story about a widow who still behaves as though her husband is alive, and the small island community who loves her enough to go along with her and help her work through her grief. My second book is Interesting Facts about Space (2024) by Emily Austin. Enid loves space, has a phobia about bald men, and thinks she's a terrible person. This is another big hearted book that is equally about the main character's inner and outer life. If you like it, check out Emily Austin's first book, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead.


That's all for this episode. My thanks to everyone at the Rockingham Free Public Library for taking time to be on the podcast. And a special thank you for your friendly calls to remind me I have a book(s) on the holds shelf.


Thank you for listening, and please visit public libraries in person on virtually. You'll be surprised and delighted at what you find.



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