New Library Groundbreaking

The South Hero Library will break ground on a new, 5,500 square foot library at 260 US Rte. 2 at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21, 2018. All are invited to join in the celebration.

“We are excited about the progress we have made in securing the support of our community,” said Ken Kowalewitz, head of the Library Board of Trustees and the South Hero Library Foundation. “Groundbreaking is possible in large part because of Dr. Edward Worthen, our major benefactor. Now we need to match his generosity with $165,000 to complete the $1.5 million funding to build the Library for our community. You can help put us over the top with your gift and ensure that our community has a well-equipped space. We have decided to begin construction because we are keenly aware of rising construction costs. This celebration of our new Library allows our summer as well as year-round residents to join in this important step in our history.”

Over $1.3 million has been raised from 200 donors: individuals, businesses and foundations. The campaign was initiated by a $500,000 pledge from the late Dr. Worthen. The new library will be a free-standing, fully accessible, energy efficient 5,500 square foot facility. The added space allows for increased programming and additions to the collection. Once completed, Library hours will increase from 24 to 40 hours a week. Planned new programming includes:

  • Reinstating preschool story hour and adding a play time for young children.
  • Providing home-schooled students with a place to meet, share curriculum, host book clubs, and research topics during regular school hours.
  • After school and evening study hours, book clubs, homework help for teens.
  • History lectures, book clubs, social activities such as maj jonng and drawing, film screenings and discussions during the day and evening for adults.
  • Providing a comfortable, accessible Community Room that groups can use during and outside of regular Library hours.
  • Providing a Maker Space to encourage creativity and entrepreneurism in children, teens and adults.

About the South Hero Library: For more information about Library programming, and the campaign, contact the Library Director, Keagan Calkins, at (802) 372-6209. You can make a donation to the campaign by stopping in the library, mailing a check or making a secure gift online at

Summer at the Library

Celebrate & Learn All Summer Long at the South Hero Library

With summer approaching, Islanders are eagerly making plans to get out of the house. Don’t miss the opportunity to fit some of the exciting upcoming events at the South Hero Library into your fun!  This year’s lineup includes a variety of programs that will appeal to every age group and many diverse interests.

One of the Library’s big draws every year is the July author visit. This year we’re excited to host novelist Sarah Healy, who will discuss her most recent book, The Sisters Chase, on July 27. Copies are available to borrow at the Library – come grab one!  We’ve been very fortunate to line up additional author visits from Young Adult writer Dean Whitlock on May 24 and photographer Mary Zompetti on June 20.

The Library will host kid-friendly events throughout the summer focused on nature, art, magic, theater, music and more! Kids are also encouraged to participate in our summer-long reading challenge, with a theme this year of “Reading Rocks!”. What better way to keep toddlers through teens reading and learning through the summer months? A grand prize will be awarded to a lucky reader within each age group, in a drawing at our August 17th Summer Reading Party!

You can view times, dates and details of all upcoming events in our 2018 Summer Programs schedule, available online at Be sure to visit our website for updates as we add new events in the weeks ahead. To receive emails about Library happenings, news, and updates on our new building, please sign up for our newsletter through the website.

Make Your Gift Go Further!

By Kenneth C. Kowalewitz

Chair, South Hero Library Foundation Board

Find the article on page two of The Islander!

This is an exciting time for South Hero and your public library! Over $1.3 million has been raised of the $1.5 million goal needed to break ground. As one volunteer said, “With less than $200,000 to go, the goal is so close you can almost smell the dirt on the shovel!” There is a way for you to not only help put that shovel in the ground but also make your money go further.

The South Hero Library Foundation has applied to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for an Infrastructure and Sustainability Challenge Grant. The Challenge grant will match eligible funds raised by the community for the new South Hero library.  All of the money raised for your new library since last October will count towards the required match. We won’t know whether or not we receive the match until August. Meanwhile, the NEH encourages all organizations who submit to this grant to let people know about the possible pending challenge. You can help put the shovel in the ground for the new library by making a contribution now – the contribution you make now will go toward the match.

In our application, we told the NEH about some of the exciting ways our programming will expand. These are also ways your gift can make a difference.

  • Preschool story hour will be reinstated and a new play time added for young children.
  • Home-schooled students and their parents will be able to share curriculum, host book clubs, and participate in a programming along with other Library patrons.
  • Teens will have space to come to after school or in the evenings for book clubs, after-school homework help, and other programming geared to this age group.
  • Retirees will enjoy programs including history lectures, book clubs, film screenings and discussions held during the day to make them more accessible.
  • Community groups will have a comfortable, accessible space in which to meet.

Not only will this NEH Challenge grant help complete the build campaign, the funding will enable us to establish a reserve fund to help pay for operating costs. Why is a reserve fund needed for operating costs? The current Library allocation from the voters of South Hero covers the salary and benefits of your Library Director and her part-time assistant as well as a modest amount for programming and new acquisitions. A Reserve Fund will help ensure that the costs of your new, larger, free-standing Library will be met, as well as, allow increased operating hours and expanded programming.

Your gift or pledge will get that first shovel into the ground! Any amount helps. If you are interested in recognizing or remembering a loved one or friend through a gift, …just call Keagan, Library Director at 372-6209. There are opportunities to create a permanent memorial for a loved one with gifts that name features of the new library building with amounts ranging from $2,000 to $100,000.

Help the Library by following in our benefactor Ed’s Worthen’s footsteps.  Ed was a long-time local resident and university professor who kick-started our building campaign by leaving his estate to the South Hero Library.  Consider remembering your Library in your estate plans. Ask Keagan for more information and watch for additional information as our Legacy Society evolves.

Find out more about the campaign for your new Library at . You can make a secure gift online by visiting the Library’s website and clicking the “Donate” button. Every donation to the building fund will go to create a community space that will be a resource for people of all ages. As the Library’s major benefactor, Ed Worthen, would say, “And On We Go…”. Here is to that first shovel of dirt! You can make it happen.



Mentoring and the Library: Stronger Together

By Barbara Brown

There is a wonderful program in Grand Isle County known as the Grand Isle County Mentoring Program. Begun in 2009, students in the local schools are paired or matched with an adult from the community. The matched pairs meet in the school buildings for about an hour a week and play games, share snacks, cook, read books and have conversations. Each year the group hosts a Game Night where the mentor pairs meet to participate in tournaments and eat pizza. There is an annual outing at the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center held in conjunction with other mentoring programs in the area.

Mentoring has proven results for children and adults who make the commitment to meet and spend time together and the Grand Isle County Mentoring program has been extremely successful. The program is school-based, which means that the pairs meet on school property. They are given access to school facilities, such as classrooms, playgrounds, kitchens, gyms and libraries when those spaces are available. Once students  graduate from their elementary schools they are no longer permitted to meet on school grounds. Luckily many of the children in the program are offered an opportunity to transition to a community-based mentoring program. Pairs are able to maintain the strong bonds that they have developed and continue to influence each other in positive ways.

Finding opportunities for maintaining the mentoring relationship presents challenges. Meeting space in Grand Isle County is quite limited, and many of the matches would love to have a place for quiet conversation or to engage in some of the fun activities they previously enjoyed. Adolescents also have particular needs and some of the activities that appeal to younger children have less relevance for upper middle school and high school students. Those who want assistance with challenging homework assignments, opportunities to do research on the internet, or help writing college applications have a hard time finding space to engage in these activities.

The new South Hero Public Library is preparing to offer exciting solutions to the challenge of finding places for mentor pairs to meet. The library is aiming to break ground on a new building in 2018 to enable expansion of library programs and services and serve as a center for our community. The new building will supply spacious, comfortable seating areas that take advantage of the natural beauty of the island setting. The technologically up-to-date infrastructure will offer high speed internet connections, access to computers and printers and research and reference materials.

There will also be spacious meeting areas available for public use, and the Mentoring Program will be able to hold essential meetings and training sessions. “We are so pleased at the prospect of having this fabulous space at our disposal,” said Karen Browning, GIC Mentoring coordinator. Mentor/match pairs interviewed for this article are excited about maintaining their relationships and their connection to the Island. “I love spending time with my mentor,” said one student. “We do so many fun things together.” Mentors have expressed their pleasure as well. “There are so few public spaces where you can go and spend time without being pressured to buy something,” said one mentor. “Libraries offer free meeting space. It is a great message for the kids. We do not always have to spend money to have a good time.”

The new South Hero Library building will be built without taxpayer dollars. Commitments for $1.3 million have already been secured towards a goal of a $1.5 million building fund. The library needs your help to raise the remaining $200,000. Find out more about this campaign at You can make a secure gift online by visiting Every donation to the building fund will go to create a community space that programs like GIC Mentoring can use.

You can also learn about upcoming library programs and services for both children and adults at the library website,, by visiting the library at 75 South Street, South Hero and by calling the library at 802-372-6209.

Visit for more information about how you can become a mentor or otherwise support the Grand Isle County Mentoring Program

We Want Your Ideas!

As published in The Islander on Feb. 20, 2018.

We would LOVE to hear your ideas about the programs and collections YOU would like to see at the South Hero library.  Be wild!  Be practical!  Be silly!  Be creative!  No idea is too off-the-wall!   I have been blown away by the energy and passion of the people in the Islands for having fun, learning, and just coming together to do something different.    Our combined brain power will make our library ROCK!

Let’s consider what we’ve been able to do together even in our current small space in the Folsom School – and how we can make it even better now,  and in the future when we have our beautiful new building.

In the past year, the library loaned close to 11,000 items to the community.   These are books, CDs, e-books, large print books, museum passes, and even puzzles.  I figure that if individuals had had to pay even $10 to buy each of the items that they borrowed from the library for free, that would have cost them $110,000!  What other books or sharable items would you like to see at the library?  Think outside the box… we have great stuff like an egg-incubator and a sewing machine… what else do we need?

Programs at the library are really taking off too.  In the past year hundreds of people have enjoyed a wide variety of programs and we’d love to hear your ideas about what else we can do (or what we should repeat because you loved it!).  Programs can be very practical – like the classes we’ve had on technologies like Photoshop, email, and Facebook.  Programs can also be silly – like the sleepovers we’ve had for stuffed animals (we had to find beds for 50 stuffed animals one night).  Programs can be motivational – like the reading challenge we’ve had for three year olds or the prizes for teens.  Programs can be a fun way to enjoy your neighbors in a group activity like Mah Jong or a book club.  Programs can be an opportunity to try making something with your hands – like quilting, sewing, basket weaving, drawing, needle felting, or a terrarium.  Programs can also be just plain fun – like family game night, or making decorations for various holidays together.   Programs can focus on tots, teens, families, seniors, business owners… you name it.   What programs would you like to see?   What would be fun or helpful to you?

Put on your thinking cap and let me know what you think!  You can reach me at 802.372.6209,, or just stop by the library anytime from 3pm to 8 pm Tue – Thu, 3pm – 6pm on Fri, or 9am – 3pm Sat.  I can’t wait to hear from you!