On Friday September 18, CLiF welcomed 102 librarians from 40 New Hampshire towns and 40 Vermont towns to celebrate the back-to-school season at the CLiF Rural Libraries Conference. We asked nine panelists to share their knowledge and lead open question and answer sessions on the topics of Expanding Your Collection, Connecting with Younger Patrons, and Building Community Connections. A special thank you to those panelists:

Thanks to Simon Brooks for donating the raffled storytelling presentation won by Fairfax (VT) Community Library.

Click here for additional notes taken by CLiF staff at the Conference.

The conversation centered on “Understanding Your Community.” The Aspen Institute’s report Rising to the Challenge: Re-envisioning Public Libraries argues that libraries are key to helping communities move forward in a complex and changing world.

“The public library is a hub of civic engagement, fostering new relationships and strengthening the human capital of the community… as an interactive entity that can facilitate many people operating individually and in groups—and [can] support the learning and civic needs of the community.” (page 10)

All conference attendees contributed to an important dialogue on how to continue as trusted members of the community, even with limited staff and resources.

During lunch, Terry Farish presented her personal journey from librarian to oral historian, author, and advocate. Her young adult novel The Good Braider tackles the issues that a refugee girl from Sudan faces while living in Maine. Her forthcoming children’s book and recently released young adult novel Either the Beginning or the End of the World also deal with how children and young adults process the refugee experience as part of a family and for themselves.

Terry’s first job with the American Red Cross took her to Vietnam during the War. She subsequently traveled with Vermont-based Volunteers for Peace to Africa. Returning home, she connected with the South Sudanese community in Portland, Maine, and, as she said in her talk: “I felt in my heart, this was a story that must be told.” Since then she has been involved with:

  • I’m Your Neighbor – “Children’s Books and Reading Projects Building Bridges between ‘New Arrvials’ and ‘Long-Term Communities.’” Their web site has extensive book lists and resources.
  • REFORMA – National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking – Books and Backpacks Program from Unaccompanied Refugee Children.
  • International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people committed to bringing books and children together. Their Children in Crisis Fund supports programs geared towards refugee children.

Books and stories are bridges between people and communities; CLiF thanks and applauds all of our partners, presenters, supporters, and volunteers in their efforts to improve our world locally, nationally, and internationally through sharing CLiF’s mission to nurture a love of reading and writing in children.


Image from Terry Farish’s Forthcoming Book: Joseph’s Big Ride.



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