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Forum, July 15: Thetford fortunate to have such a dedicated librarian


Sunday, July 14, 2019
Thetford fortunate to have such a dedicated librarian

I lived in Thetford for 10 years, from 1988-1998, and was much involved with Latham Memorial Library and served on the board of trustees. During that time, Library Director Peter Blodgett was instrumental in the creation of Thetnet, both at Thetford Academy and at the library, and helped everyone learn how to use it. He led (and maybe still does) a reading group at Thetford Elementary School. He welcomed (and I’m sure still does) many children after school at no charge to the parents.

He co-cataloged the library’s collection with the Vermont State Library, making both available to everyone in town, kept up with course work and training, recruited, trained and supervised volunteers, and always worked many more than 30 hours a week, keeping the library current and functioning well.

So much for “not modern enough.”

Thetford has been fortunate to have such an intelligent, well-educated, kind, hard-working, up-to-date librarian for both libraries (Blodgett also serves as the Post Mills librarian for 10 hours a week).

I could say that the Latham Library board members are probably new in town, want to re-create their previous hometowns and make a mark in the community. But I won’t say that. Thetford has been fortunate that Blodgett has been willing to stay for so long for so little pay. It would be good if the board would apologize to him and to the community.

SUSAN BROWN

Enfield

Douglass’ words brought to life

Close to 120 people gathered in Lebanon’s Colburn Park on July 3 to read aloud and listen to Frederick Douglass’ powerful 1852 speech, What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? Lebanon was one of 11 New Hampshire communities hosting a public participatory reading of Douglass’ speech. The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire organized this first-ever statewide effort.

The co-sponsors of our Lebanon reading — Valley Insight Meditation Society, Showing Up for Racial Justice Upper Valley chapter, and United Valley Interfaith Project — received strong support from the city of Lebanon from the start. We are deeply grateful to City Councilor Clifton Below; Lebanon Recreation and Parks, especially Paul Coates; Lebanon Libraries; City Hall and the Police Department. We also thank First Congregational Church of Lebanon for offering a rain venue, and energetic volunteers from our sponsoring organizations.

Probably we owe the greatest thanks to the 50 different voices who shared in the reading and to those who listened with rapt attention. Together, we brought Douglass’ words to life. While important historically, the speech also has important messages for us today as many in our nation rightly challenge policies that dehumanize, discriminate and deprive segments of humankind from the “rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence.”

Douglass wrote further: “your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery. …”

And yet this courageous ex-slave, a popular orator, American literary giant and powerful political force worldwide, also assured us: “notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery.”

May Douglass’ words encourage us all to see our nation’s actions more clearly and to commit ourselves to act strongly, wisely and compassionately — together — toward liberty and justice for all, regardless of the color of their skin.

DOREEN SCHWEIZER

Lebanon

CAROL ROUGVIE

West Lebanon

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