Sacred Spot

At library class yesterday, I’m in one of my places — like canoeing on Calais’s Number 10 Pond or Bandelier National Park in New Mexico — I’m (at least temporarily) where I’m supposed to be. Housed in the original Barre, Vermont, Spaulding High School, the building was constructed as schools once were — as places of community pride and beauty — with tin ceilings, ornate woodwork, and a view of the city below.

I love Vermont’s Department of Libraries because the staff is articulate and funny and clever — because they champion intellectual freedom in a time of increasing censorship and groupthink, because they’re adamant about the rights of children to have their own thoughts, and because they’re committed to librarians working together.

When they say We have your back, I trust that — and I’m not someone who easily trusts. No hard sell, no payment plan, no exchange of cash. Simply: this is the good mission we’re committed to, and we’re doing it.

Libraries were a solace in the Depression. They were warm and dry and useful and free; they provided a place for people to be together in a desolate time. You could feel prosperous at the library. There was so much there, such an abundance, when everything else felt scant and ravaged, and you could take any of it home for free. Or you could just sit at a reading table and take it all in.

— Susan Orlean, The Library Book

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Barre, Vermont

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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