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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Ilsley Public Library aims to build community through programs this fall

The library co-organized a pride parade and celebration with the Middlebury Teen Center.
The library co-organized a pride parade and celebration with the Middlebury Teen Center.

From poetry workshops to discussions on reproductive rights, the Ilsley Public Library in downtown Middlebury is offering a broad range of events this fall. 

As more than just a place to house books, the library aims to be a home for enrichment, learning and safety for the Middlebury community. 

“The Ilsley Public Library system enriches lives and builds community connections by providing engaging and accessible programs, services, resources, and spaces that meet evolving community needs. Library staff invite everyone in to learn, create, and collaborate. The library is a safe and friendly environment where everyone belongs,” according to the mission statement on the library’s website. 

In an effort to fulfill this mission, the library will host events for a diverse audience over the next couple of weeks, including Middlebury students. All people need is a library card, which can be obtained for free through the library’s website

The library ran 587 programs last year, which were attended by over 8,000 people, according to Library Director Dana Hart. While program attendance dropped immediately following the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been rising again in recent years, Hart wrote in an email to The Campus. 

The Ilsley Public Library runs “Storytime,” a program for children.

In the next year and a half, the library will undergo construction to update the building to address safety concerns and make the space better suit community needs. Hart wrote that the library still hopes to host events while operating out of a temporary space as the current building is under construction. These events will likely have to be held at various different locations in the town of Middlebury, but the library’s commitment to community enrichment will remain, she added.

The library is hosting a program titled “How to Trust the People With Reproductive Rights” the first three Saturdays of November. Presented by Meg Mott, a former professor of political theory and constitutional law at Marlboro College, the series “considers the history of reproductive rights, the best arguments on both sides, and the work we need to govern ourselves in a pluralist society,” according to the library website. 

Part one of the event on Nov. 4, “The Supreme Court’s role in reproductive freedom,” discussed the pros and cons of using the federal courts to enact progressive legislation. Part two on Nov. 11, “What the people are saying about abortion,” will consider libertarian, progressive and conservative perspectives toward abortion. The final part on Nov. 18, “What do we need to deliberate well,” will explore two case studies of abortion legality in Boston and Ireland, respectively.  

The Ilsley Library also hosts more lighthearted events, including poetry workshops, used book sales, and knitting and crocheting groups. The Otter Creek Poets meet on Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m., providing a space for poets of all levels to workshop and refine their poetry, according to the library website. The poetry meetings are hybrid, with both a Zoom meeting option and an in-person option at the community room in the library. 

“Still Hip and Happening” is a program at the library for community members seeking fun conversation, community engagement and free refreshments. The group meets weekly on Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. with activities such as karaoke, puzzles, visits from Homeward Bound animals and TED talks, according to the library website. 

The library also offers “Fiber Flock,” on Thursdays between 5 and 6 p.m., a space for people who are passionate about fiber arts to share their projects and collaborate with other creative folks. 

A full calendar of events hosted by the Ilsley Public Library can be found on their website