Episode 5 Bixby Memorial Free Library - Vergennes, VT

Published on 6 May 2024 at 10:35

In episode 5 of Where the Books Are Now, I talk with Catherine Hays, Library Director at the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes, Vermont.  Bixby is a library, a community center, and a museum that serves not just Vergennes, VT but the surrounding communities of Ferrisburgh, Waltham, Panton, and Addison.


Catharine shared the interesting and surprising history of how this beautiful neoclassical revival library building came to be - courtesy of William Gove Bixby and the "rest room" that was included in the original plans from the early 1900s. The library opened in 1912 and was designed by the Frost Architectural firm of New York city.

The Bixby Library has a large historical collection which includes a large collection of books about Vermont and books by Vermont authors in the Vermont room on the first floor. There are also a large objects collection exhibit in the library and a newly digitized archival collection thanks to the library's "History Team." Catharine also shares some of the services the library provides, including a seed catalog housed in an old card catalog, a Library of Things which includes a sewing machine, tools, a wood moisture meter, a crochet kit and more, and Mobile Museum History Kits for area teachers.   

After we stopped recording, Catharine invited me to the Celestial Soiree on May 31, 2024 - the library's fundraiser and party under the stained glass dome in the marble rotunda. It sounds like it will be quite a party with food, music, and a photobooth! Everyone is welcome.

When I travel up to Vergennes it will be part of my VT251 Club journey as I visit all the towns and villages in Vermont by visiting libraries. I’ve heard that many folks in the VT251 club also like to do their journey this way.

For our book recommendations, Catharine got together with Amber Lay, Assistant Director and Adult Services Librarian and Mary Neffinger, the Children’s Librarian to focus on the sometimes unsung marvelousness of graphic novels. They recommend the graphic novel picture book, Where’s Joon by Julie Kim (2023) inspired by Korean folktales with artwork that is beautiful. The second book is the young adult graphic novel series, Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe. This series is a contemporary take on the story of Hades and Persephone from Greek mythology. The Bixby library’s third pick is a recommendation from a teen volunteer, the Big Nate series by Lincoln Pierce. This series starts with graphic novels and as the series progresses, moves to chapter books. 

I picked two titles that were published during 2020, that first year of the pandemic when authors and publishers weren’t able to do public events and there was no spotlight for books. If you are looking for a new read, look to some lists from 2020 and I know you’ll discover some great reads.

My first book is
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. I call this a time travel romantic adventure. The story opens in a small French village in 1714 and Addie LaRue escapes from the life that was planned for her. She makes a deal with a “dark god” to live forever, and like all deals of this nature it comes with a catch. She will live forever, but no one will remember her and she isn’t able to say her name or tell her story. The book moves through time up to a bookstore meeting in New York city in 2014 that will change her life.

My next book is Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce. This novel opens in 1950s London. Marjorie Benson is a very burned out, bored school teacher who snaps one day and steals a pair of boots from the lunchroom. While waiting for the police to come take her away, she reflects on her life and decides to embark on a journey to try to find a creature that fascinated her as a child - a creature that may or may not exist - the Golden Beetle of New Caledonia. She needs someone to travel with, an assistant of sorts and ends up with Enid Pretty, a woman who appears to be the exact opposite of practical, hardworking Marjorie. This is an adventure/friendship story with plenty of hope and heart. Rachel Joyce also wrote the Harold Fry series beginning with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2012).

All of the books we talked about on this and all episodes are available at your local library - either on the shelves or through interlibrary loan. If you find a book you just need to own, I’ve included links on the covers to Bookshop.org an where every purchase helps support your local independent bookstore.

That’s all for this episode. Thanks for listening and for visiting the WTBAnow site.If you would like your Vermont library to be featured on an episode of WTBAnow, please use the contact information on the website or send a Facebook message.



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