Early May 2022

I feel very fortunate to have met Bill Stoops.

He was the type of library patron that librarians dream of: someone who checks out materials, but is always eager to lend a hand. And Bill lent many hands. He served on the Library’s Board of Trustees and on the Executive Board of the Friends of the Library. He was always ready to help with construction tasks. He was a great artist; some of his work still hangs above the picture books to this day—make sure to stop in and take a look if you haven’t yet.

A few years ago, Bill and his wife Sally ended up moving to a retirement community in Maine; even then, Bill continued to be a true friend to the Library, even if he couldn’t be here physically. Every year, for his birthday, he would send a donation to the Library in the amount of his age. Not too long ago, we received a check for $98.

98. That kind of longevity is something to which most can only aspire. Bill was at one point holder of Freedom’s  Boston Post Cane. Even though I’d only known Bill for 6 years or so—a very short span, compared to so many in Freedom who knew him—it was still absolutely my pleasure to meet him, and get to know him a little.

Even unto the end, Bill has still thought of the Library. In lieu of flowers, the Library was named as one of the organizations to which donations might be directed. I am ill-equipped to properly thank Bill for everything he’s done for the Library, but I hope everyone will join me in remembering him fondly, and following his example in keeping the Library a vibrant center for the community.

Late April 2022

It’s that time of year, when some primordial instinct deep inside the brain triggers, and one is overcome with the urge to…tidy. To organize, declutter.  I’ve been struck by that instinct here at the Library. (Though not at home…strange how one never really wants to clean their own space…) I’ve been at work in the staff room clearing clutter; evaluating what, if anything, should be kept; and figuring out what to do with the stuff that we won’t be keeping.

There’s something that feels so wrong about throwing away something that’s still perfectly serviceable, though. Logic says to just chuck the unwanted but…I can’t do it! So, I’ve decided to give some of this stuff one last chance, to see if I can find it a good home before sending it off to the farm of forgotten items.

On the big windowsill between the Adult Fiction and Large Print, we’ve got some items that are available for folks to make their own, if they so choose. All items are being sold by donation; who has time to evaluate price points and put stickers on everything? What’s currently out there isn’t everything we’re getting rid of—far from it. But, I thought I’d put out a little at a time, to see what might be of interest to folks. If there are still items that haven’t been adopted in a week or so, they’ll be bound for the great junk beyond, while the next batch of items is put out for people to peruse.

Hopefully providing this opportunity will assuage some of my guilt about throwing things away. Even more hopefully, the space I’m creating in our storage spaces will allow the Library to do even more for the community! There’s space to expand our Library of Things, so we can offer even more items for the community to use. There’s space to spread some things out, so that we can actually see what’s in one container, or figure out where we put that particular color of construction paper. Who knows what else we might do with all that space! (Tempting as it is, I will resist setting up a place to nap.)

The Friends’ annual Book Sale will also be making its return this year. We’re not taking donations of books just yet—there’s still a lot of stuff to clear out to make some room to store them. But mark your calendar for Ducky Day (June 26th), since that’s when we’ll start accepting donations of books. Remember to keep in mind that if you wouldn’t buy the book at a book sale, other people probably won’t either; those books should be sent to the junk farm as well.

And even with all this Spring mania, Summer planning is well underway. Plans for events, programs, and Summer Reading are all being refined, and we can’t wait for everyone to join in the fun this year. I just need to make sure the cleaning and organizing is done before then!

Early April 2022

When I went to library school (yes, it is a thing), I went with the intention of becoming a music librarian. When events conspired against that plan, I began concentrating on the area of Academic Reference & Instruction. I pictured my library career sitting at the reference desk at a university library, occasionally sneaking away to teach research skills to classes.

All of that changed in May of 2016, when I found myself working in a small library in rural New Hampshire. I suddenly found myself working in a public library—and not even one of those big ones that they prepare you for in library school. To my surprise, it turned out to be one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

Along the way, I eventually let my academic expectations fall away; could I still do it? Sure. But it would take quite a bit of study and practice to get my skills back up to what they once were. I took a couple years to travel to a larger library, serving a larger population. While I wouldn’t trade the experience, there was always something missing that you just can’t get in a bigger library. Then, I found myself back here.

Why mention all this? I suppose it’s to paint a picture, to illustrate the point that, while I’ve had lots of experience, very little has been working with kids. I do okay reading out loud, and can play the Nintendo Switch with the best of them, but there’s a lot of knowledge and training that I sorely lack…and honestly, it’s not something I can pick up while concentrating on everything else my current job asks of me. I love working with the kids of Freedom; but, I always feel like I’m never doing enough.

That’s why I’m hoping to hire someone to be the Library’s Youth Programming Coordinator. Someone who can plan programs that will be fun, educational, and—most importantly—happen regularly. Someone who can advise me on what the Library can do to help students read, learn, and thrive. Someone whose sole focus can be on the kids, not divided amongst all the other tasks required to run a library.

If you know someone who might fit the bill, there’s information available on our website.

Late March 2022

 [Click and drag to move]

It looks like March has finally morphed into the proverbial lamb, and spring has finally sprung…much to the chagrin of winter, which seems to keep poking its head in as much as it can manage. Once the weather starts warming consistently, and things start drying out a little, programming at the Library will hopefully get itself up and running again.

Library programs have, in the past, fallen into two broad categories: a visiting speaker, or a social occasion like movie nights or game night. (Yes, game night will be returning soon.) In a couple weeks, we’ll be trying out something a little different, and I’ll be curious to see what people think.

On April 1st, we’ll be presenting Symphony of Spoken Words, a poetry reading to celebrate National Poetry Month (April). I’ll be reading a selection of poems around the theme of “music,” all of which were found in the Library’s collections. (All right, one poem wasn’t originally found in the collection, but I remedied that as quickly as I could.) The program will be presented via Zoom.

It will also be a different sort of program, in that there won’t be anything to watch; it will be presented  in a format similar to a radio broadcast, podcast, or whichever format you typically listen to vs. watch. It will be an opportunity to sit back, relax, and listen.

I’ll certainly admit to a bit of stage fright, but I’m looking forward to sharing these poems with everyone. And I hope it inspires you to take a look at the poetry collections available at the Library. There’s not a lot, but there’s some good stuff in there.

If you’d like to sign up for the Zoom link, you can do so at the Symphony of Spoken Words page on your website. I’ll be sending out the link earlier in the day on April 1st, so that way it doesn’t get buried under other emails.

Early March 2022

If March does indeed, as the saying goes, “come in like a lion,” then this year it’s the Cowardly Lion, or a similar lion of indecision.  The constant oscillation between warm and cold, rain and snow, leaves everyone wondering if Spring is actually coming, or if we’re just being mercilessly teased. Nevertheless, Spring is right around the corner, and with it will come new experiences…and hopefully more predictable warm weather.

At the top of my new experiences list this month is the chance to participate in my first time voting and attending town meeting since moving to Freedom. I have to admit, a lot of governance in New Hampshire is quite different from what I grew up with, but I’m enjoying the chance to learn more about it, how it might affect the Library, and how to be as informed as possible.  Just as a reminder, the Library will be opening after Town Meeting on March 13th; that way, no one will have to choose between attending Town Meeting and stopping by the Library.

Also new this month is our website! With the help of Piper Webs, we’ve been able to upgrade our website so that it’s shinier than ever, plays well with mobile browsing, and—best of all—allows for better accessibility. Some parts will look familiar, some will have a new and different format, but all of the information about the library you could ever ask for should be in there somewhere. Please take a look around the new site and try things out. If you find links or documents that aren’t working, let me know, so I can go in and fix them.

Who knows what other new experiences await us? Maybe you’ll find that perfect item from our New Materials list to enjoy. Maybe you’ll get a chance to check something out from our Library of Things—which itself should have a few new items available in the coming months. Whatever new things are out there to experience, I look forward to experiencing them with everyone in the community.

Late February 2022

I’ve had folks asking lately when the mask mandate at the library will be lifted. The best answer I can give, which some folks might not be thrilled with, is “When it is safe for everyone who visits the Library to do so.” And I do mean everyone.
According to the CDC, “The Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Delta variant. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.” There are still nine more letters in the Greek alphabet, and the virus hasn’t yet reached the limit of its ability to mutate.
First and foremost in my mind are the staff, which consists of myself, Margarete, and Amanda. Three people. If more than one staff member at a time is ill, the Library would need to close until someone recovers. If one staff member tested positive for COVID, the Library would need to close until a sufficient number of staff members test negative or are recovered.
Beyond the staff are the volunteers and trustees of the Library, who spend a significant amount of time in the building, helping to keep the Library running. Our youngest patrons, children under 5, who likely won’t have access to a vaccine until the beginning of April, at the earliest. Our seniors who, even though they may be boosted as much as one can be, are still not guaranteed to fend off the Omicron variant. I could go on; what it boils down to is this: everyone is still vulnerable.
Some may see declining trends, and think I’m overreacting. Hospitalizations—at least in New Hampshire—are down. New cases are down. That’s definitely true. But, it’s important to think about where they’re down from. Here’s the graph for Daily Trends for Cases by Report Date from the NH CDC website:

The most recent data point, for February 10th, shows the 7 day average at 634, which is indeed lower than the peak on January 15th of 3,715. It’s still higher, however, than the peak on October 17th of 592, and only slightly lower than the original peak on December 8th of 2020, which was 867.
That little valley between June and August? That’s what I’m looking for. A time when transmission and infection is low enough to be statistically insignificant. A time when we’ll be able to actually see each other’s smiles, when glasses will no longer fog up with every breath, and when we can breathe—both literally and figuratively—safely.

Early February 2022

The reason that the groundhog ushers in
The month of love, I can’t begin to say.
That harbinger of things to come would win
A bigger fan base should he not delay
The Spring. But either way, we hunker down
For chilly weeks, profess our love, and wait
For warmer weather. In the meantime, frown
No more, and visit us! It’s not too late
For kids to join the Reading Program, or
For kids-at-heart to share their best-loved books.
The Winter movies still have room for more
To register to view them. If it looks
Like six more weeks will pass before the sun
Will warm and shine, come join us for some fun!

Late January 2022

COVID-19. The one thing I’m sure everyone’s tired of hearing about, or even having to think about. Even Benjamin Franklin would be hard-pressed to find an analogy for this visitor; if “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”, then what would they smell like after three years?

Fortunately for us, face masks can help filter out that fishy smell, at least a little bit. I want to thank the community for wearing their masks when they visit the Library. I know it can sometimes seem like an inconvenience, but it is one of the easiest things we can do to try to keep everyone safe. And that’s how I think about wearing masks: I’m doing it more to keep everyone else safe than I am for my own safety. Hopefully, the virus will make its way through the Greek alphabet, and we can be done it with sooner rather than later. (It seems like they’ve skipped quite a few letters, so maybe we’ll get there all the quicker!)

I know a lot of our youngest patrons are missing the opportunity to participate in Preschool Storytime. They’re some of the most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19: there’s not yet a vaccine approved for children under five, and goodness knows I wouldn’t want to be the one to convince a toddler to keep a mask on. Hang in there, though! As soon as it’s safe to do so, we’ll have everyone back in for stories, songs, and fun.

The Winter Film Series is also a challenge. With more popular titles, like this week’s The Father, comes more people sitting in to see the movie. Masks, as always, will be required, and the air purifier will be running to keep the air circulating. I’ll do my best to keep seats distanced. I look forward to a time when things can be more relaxed (and more social!).

For more information on how COVID-19 is affecting our community, you can visit the New Hampshire COVID-19 Response website, which has up-to-date information on infection, information on vaccination and free COVID tests, and other useful information. Stay informed and stay safe, and hopefully soon we’ll be able to see everyone’s smiles at the Library in the not-too-distant future.

Early January 2022

The beginning of a new year. The start of a month-long struggle to write down the correct year on checks and forms. Every day is a little bit brighter, and a little bit longer. That time when everyone aspires to accomplish something over the next twelve months, be it large or small, new or old, possible or fantasy.

If you’re looking for a resolution that’s easy to keep, look no further than the library! Make it your resolution to keep your card active and up to date. Make it your resolution to get a card if you don’t have one. Or you could resolve to get someone else to get a card if they don’t have one. We’re here to serve the community, but we can only do that if the community takes advantage of everything we offer throughout the year.

This year marks the return of the Winter Film Series. I know a lot of people are nervous about the idea of meeting in an enclosed space with people, what with Omicron seeming to run rampant. We’ve made our own resolution to do everything we can to provide a safe viewing experience. That’s why each viewing will be limited to 20 people, who will have distanced seating and be required to wear masks. We’ll have the air purifier running as well. That’s also why we’re offering two showings of each movie this year.  

Unfortunately, our movie-showing licenses don’t allow us to have an online viewing; but, the library does own all of the movies in this year’s lineup, so you’ll be able to check them out after each showing and watch them safely from home. Two of the movies, Parasite and Four Good Days, are available for streaming through Kanopy.

The Library will continue to be a warm place for anyone to visit, with hot beverages available to take the chill out of your bones. You can even check out some snowshoes once you’re here to make the trek to and from the Library a little easier, at least for the week you can check them out. And if there are any resolutions on your horizon that we can help with, let us know. We want everyone to succeed in this new year full of new possibilities.

Late December 2021

‘Twas the week before Christmas: the library sat
In a half-snowy wonderland, lacking a cat.
All the books and the movies were shelved with great care,
So our patrons could find all the items we share.
At my desk I was nestled, like often before,
With visions of movies, and programs, and more.
Having so much to plan, ev’ry process to map—
If I could have, I would have just taken a nap.
It’s hard to believe my great fortune to be
In a town that I like, in a town that likes me.
When I’m tired and weary, when skies are all grey,
All the people of Freedom can brighten my day.
But where were we? Ah yes, at my desk, with my eyes
Very tempted to close, but that wouldn’t be wise.
With a library full of equipment to lend,
And the very last bits of the budget to spend,
There’s so much that I want to give everyone who
Wanders into the library—outside it, too!
Though it’s really more loaning, ev’ry item we lend
Is like giving a present to our closest friend.
So come stock up on books, or a movie or three,
For a holiday winterfest next to your tree.
Happy holidays, all, and a shiny New Year!
If you’re traveling, then y’all come back now, y’hear?
Back to Freedom, and back to the library hall,
Where community is the best present of all

Early December 2021

We’ve reached that point in the year where most folks are looking forward to the holidays, be it with anticipation of all the goodies to come, or in dread that they, like me, haven’t actually started their shopping yet. All of that is on my ever-expanding “List of Things” to take care of. A lot of my job is made up of constantly looking forward, trying to piece together ideas for future library endeavors, and it might be surprising just how far ahead I’m planning on some things, and just how much I do as part of that planning.

I tend to work on things bit by bit over a relatively long period. It gives me a chance to figure out how I want to do things, and to start doing those things so I can see if I like what I came up with. It also gives me time to refine, or to completely change my mind and try something else. It also helps to keep me from scrambling at the last minute and drowning in panic.

For example, I’ve been working on the Winter Film Series since I started in September. I’ve been working on a Winter Reading Program for the elementary school kids in February, and I’ve already started putting things together for Summer Reading.

In terms of the Winter Film Series, I’ve had to process things like when to have showings, how to have showings safely, what to show, and so many other things that have been tossing around in my head for months. I’ve been completing little bits of the process over the past couple months, and I’m happy to say that it’s finally come together! Given the state of COVID-19 in the world, and in our region, this year’s Winter Film Series isn’t going to be the same as it has been in years past. My top priority is the safety of everyone who might attend, which means that some things will be different, and some things just won’t be happening. But, I hope that I’ve managed to pick out a good slate of movies for my first try!

In order to allow for distanced seating, there will be two showings of each film, one on Saturday at 2pm (a matinee!), and one on Sunday at 4pm. Seating for each show will be limited to 20 people, so that we can space people out safely; because of this, we’re asking folks to sign up for which showing they’d like to attend, just to make sure we don’t go over capacity. Masks will also be required, as we’ll have folks crammed into a relatively small space; because of this, there won’t be any popcorn. This also means that we won’t be having the traditional soup suppers with the movies, but we’ll still have time after the movie for some discussion.

To see this year’s move lineup and showing dates, check out the Winter Film Series page on our website. To sign up to attend a showing, give us a call at the Library at 603-539-5176, or fill out this online registration form. I look forward to seeing folks there!

Late November 2021

There is no doubt in my mind that I have an abundance of things for which to be thankful this year—not the least of which is the opportunity to serve a community that I admire and appreciate, and actually managed to become a part of. The support I feel from everyone in Freedom is enough to feast on, though I’m certainly not going to turn away Thanksgiving dinner in a couple of weeks.

I’ve been pleased to see people enjoying the library’s new reading room. I was finally able to get all of the art hung, which is a load off of my mind. Lots of people have been enjoying the oral histories of Freedom residents as well, which are in a red album in the reading room. Now that the weather is taking a turn for the colder, I’m certainly frequenting the room more often, boiling some water for a nice cup of tea to warm me up after my walk to work.

It’s a little strange, seeing the flyers for Freedom Rings In the Holidays without a library book sale. While we try to keep the sale in our vestibule well-stocked, I think we can all agree that it’s not quite the same. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be able to tell you about the next big book sale, but that’s still a while off. In the meantime, please keep in mind that we don’t really have a place to store donations at the moment. We’ll make sure to let you know if, when, and where we can start taking in donations again.

We’ve slowly been adding programming back in at the library, though most is happening outside of library hours at the moment. Mah Jongg meets on Monday and Thursday morning, and Cribbage meets on Wednesday afternoons. Amanda is planning a craft program for the beginning of December, and I’ve started working on putting together the Winter Film Series—more details to come!  Keep an eye on the calendar on our website for dates, times, and more information.

As we keep track of COVID-19, we’ll work on bringing more programming back to the library when it’s safe to do so. I might even start planning some virtual events over the winter, so no one actually has to go out into the cold. If there’s a program you think would work well virtually, let me know; I’m always happy to hear what’s interesting everyone.

Early November 2021

There’s that certain time of the year, when you’re out walking in the morning, and you can smell the burning wood as people are warming up their homes with the fireplaces so common in many of the historical buildings in the village. That’s a sign, at least for me, that Fall is really here, moreso than changing leaves, pumpkins, and frosty mornings. It’s also a portent of the holidays that are just around the corner. But I’m not going to rush that just yet; I’d like to enjoy the Fall a little more first.

It’s a very special Fall, since it will be my first as a resident of New Hampshire. Even though I’ve been living in the village for about a month, it’s only recently that I’ve gotten my New Hampshire license & license plates. There’s still a lot for me to learn about living here, but I’ve got a comfortable place from which to learn it.

I’m quite happy with how the new Adult Reading Room has turned out. There’s still a bit more decorating to do, but on the whole, I think it will make a great addition to the library. Comfortable chairs, warm beverages, lots of natural light from the windows…it’s the kind of cozy nook that I’ve always wanted for myself. I probably won’t get to spend a lot of time in there, but I hope that everyone gets the chance to experience and enjoy the space, even if it’s just so I can do it vicariously.

Halloween was a new and interesting experience this year. I have a newfound respect for all the people who kept me well-stocked with candy when I wandered door-to-door in my youth. I’m looking forward to seeing what pictures people took on our “spooky stoop,” and sharing some of those pictures with the community. I know it’s different from how it’s been done in the past, but I hope it can become one of many new traditions for the library.

All of the classes from Freedom Elementary School have paid their first visits to the library this school year. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy reading aloud. I may not be the greatest actor, and I’m sure a few of the kids can attest to my terrible attempts at accents, but there’s something about vocalizing a story that transforms it into a completely different experience. I’m grateful to the teachers at the school for giving me the opportunity to read to their classes, and I look forward to continuing the stories we’ve started.

If there’s no one at home to read to you, you might want to try out one of the audiobooks available at the library. There are lots to choose from, in a variety of genres. There are also audiobooks available through the New Hampshire Downloadable Library, and the Libby app. I enjoy audiobooks of biographies, where the subject of the book is reading it. It always feels like there’s an extra depth to the book that I would never get just from reading alone. Come give one a try, and see if you find your new favorite thing!


Late October 2021

Soon, the witching hour will be upon us, and through the dying light of sunset, all manner of small creature will emerge to run around the village, taunting its residents for something sweet. The lights at my place will be dark, though, and the small creatures will find no treats there… because I’ll be at the library handing out candy!

Halloween will be a bit different at the library this year, but it will definitely be happening, weather permitting!

Starting around 4pm on October 31st, I’ll have a table out in the parking lot where folks can come up and get their library treats. You’ll also have an opportunity to take your own group photos or selfies from the front steps of the library! We would love to feature your pictures from this Halloween, and you can share them with us in many ways!

Tag us in any pictures you post on Facebook (FreedomPublicLibrary), Twitter (@FreedomPLNH), or Instagram (@freedomPLphotos). You can also send us pictures at photos@freedompubliclibrary.org–let us know if it’s okay to post the photos to our social media, or show them in the library.

It’s been pretty quiet at the library over the past couple weeks. Most of our summer friends have made their way to warmer climes in anticipation of the chill that…isn’t actually in the air yet. At least the trees are on schedule, with some breathtaking foliage displays.

We’ll be ready for that chill, though, with a warm place to visit and grab something for a cozy night in of reading or movie watching. We can even find a nice cookbook full of hearty meals and favorite comfort foods if that’s the kind of cozy you’d like on a fall evening.

Early October 2021

Fall is a time of change: the colors of leaves, the chill in the air, the preparations for the Winter to come. Change is afoot at the Library as well. Lately, I’ve been feeling like the squirrels and chipmunks rushing around to gather those last bits of food to hide away for the Winter. Granted, I’ve been running around trying to get myself situated in my new role as Library Director, but the frenetic energy feels similar.

I arrived on September 9th to work with Elizabeth for a few days to prepare to take over the position of Library Director. We bid a fond farewell to Elizabeth on the 11th, with a reception honoring her 18 years of service to the library. I can only hope for as enduring a career! Before her retirement, Elizabeth was able to complete the ARPA grant process, which allowed the library to greatly expand its Library of Things.

The hardware that distributes the internet throughout the building decided to retire along with Elizabeth and Louie. We made due for a couple of weeks with our dutiful modem and a slew of cords snaking around the building, and were able to keep a wifi signal up for anyone who needed to use the internet. Tom from Computer Port was able to bring us in a replacement, and things are humming along smoothly now. Printing, copying, and public computers are all available for use.

Since sliding into the director’s chair, I’ve had the chance to meet with library staff, the Trustees, the Friends of the library, and Freedom’s Senior Coordinator, as well as countless folks stopping in to say hello and welcome. It’s wonderful to see familiar faces, and to meet new ones as well. In-person programming is still on pause at the library as we ride the wave of coronavirus craziness; I look forward to seeing more folks once programming resumes.

So stop on by the library to say hello, and find some entertainment for those nights where it’s getting too chilly to play outside. Books and movies are at your fingertips, as well as puzzles for hours of family fun. Check out the canning equipment, some binoculars, or even a dehydrator. You could even check out some snowshoes, though I’m hoping it’ll be a little while before those are necessary!