Oliver Wolcott Library

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Oliver Wolcott Library News

WOWbrary Comes to OWL

Oliver Wolcott Library introduces a new service: “Wowbrary.”  Wowbrary is a unique service that sends out an email or RSS feed alerting patrons of the Library’s newest items each week. Wowbrary showcases the “top” items for each week, but patrons can also click on the sidebar which categorizes items by their genre. This new feature allows the Library to keep patrons informed of their latest purchases. “Wowbrary is wonderful because it helps the Library offer a great service while allowing us to be more efficient” said Ann Marie White, Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library.  “The Library has seen significant growth in use of all of our services but our staff has remained small. In order to meet the growing need for essential library services, we need to always look for ways to be more efficient. Previously, we had to use a good deal of staff time to manually produce a list of our new acquisitions. Our patrons want to see our new lists but it was time-consuming. Wowbrary allows us to not only offer this service but actually enhances the experience while simultaneously requiring almost no staff time at all” says Ann Marie.

Adult Services Librarian Audra MacLaren added that “another great feature of Wowbrary is the summary that they give about each highlighted item, including a picture of it. The listed items are linked directly to the Library’s catalog, making it easy to reserve or request the item by clicking on the “borrow” link next to it.”

Patrons can also find the latest additions to the e-books collection that the Library offers through Overdrive.

With this new service, patrons can stay up to date on what is new at OWL each week. Sign up at OWL’s website at www.owlibrary.org and click on Programs; Wowbrary will appear on the sidebar. The easy and fast sign-up keeps you informed about the exciting new materials added to OWL’s collection!

OWL Announces New Board Trustees

Oliver Wolcott Library is happy to welcome four new trustees to its Board. Joining the team will be Margret Delves-Broughton, James Rindos, Kathryn Milano and Patrick Boland. Trustees play a vital role in determining the Library’s future, helping to ensure that it continues to be a vibrant cultural center in the community. Members share many duties and responsibilities in advocating for the Library, and each trustee brings a different area of expertise. All trustees are elected for three year terms that may be renewed once.

Margret Delves-Broughton will be bringing her experience in the art world to her new position on the Board. Prior to moving to Litchfield, she was a specialist in American Paintings at Christie’s in New York and has lived in Paris, Boston and New York. She holds a B.A. in History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives with her husband and two sons in Litchfield.

James Rindos lives with his wife and two daughters in Litchfield, where he has been a resident since 1973. He is the proprietor of Berkshire PPM, Inc., a dealer of packing and processing machinery for the beverage and food manufacturing industries. James brings the small business perspective to the Board.

Kathryn Milano is an eight year resident of Litchfield and she brings her twenty-five years of business experience with an emphasis in Marketing and Advertising to her position at OWL. She began her career in Chicago at The Leo Burnett Company and most recently was Vice President of Marketing for AOL in New York, a position which she held for seven years. She holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a M.B.A. from The University of Chicago.

Patrick Boland has served on the Board of Director’s for First National Bank of Litchfield, Connecticut Junior Republic and the Warner Theatre. He has extensive work experience in both financial and business fields, and started his career at JP Morgan & Co. in New York. He retired in 2004 from Credit Suisse First Boston, in New York where he was Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Global Credit Risk and Management Department. In addition to his vast financial and non-profit board experience, he is also fluent in Spanish.


OWL Box Installed at The Bantam Market

Move over Red Box, here comes the OWL Box! Last Friday, the Oliver Wolcott Library installed “The OWL Box”, essentially a vending machine filled with books, audio books, and DVD’s. Library card holders from any town in Connecticut may borrow items free of charge from the OWL Box.

“We are the first library in Connecticut to offer this new innovative service. We are very excited about this opportunity to reach out to the residents of Bantam as well as others who may find it hard to get to the Oliver Wolcott Library during normal business hours” said Ann Marie White, Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library.

Grants from the Praxair Foundation and the Seherr-Thoss Foundations made the purchase possible. The OWL Box provides increased access to bestsellers like Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Game Change by John Heilemann, Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and Girl with the Dragon Tatto by Stieg Larrson; DVDs like Alice in Wonderland, Avatar, Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin, the Italian Job, the High Plains Drifter, and so much more.

”Every time you visit, you will be surprised and delighted by the selections which are always changing,” said Audra MacLaren, Adult Services Librarian at the Oliver Wolcott Library who rotates materials at least three times a week.

The Bantam Market is an ideal location because of its ample parking, welcoming environment, convenient hours, and easy access for seniors, working adults, busy families, teens and children. “There are many families living in that neighborhood. Now they can have access to library materials even if their parents are unable to drive them to the OWL. The senior bus routinely takes seniors to Big Value for grocery shopping. Now these seniors who may have limited mobility can access library materials” said MacLaren.

The OWL Box acts like a vending machine where patrons from any town insert their library card, make selections, and then the item drops down for patrons to take home. Any patron in good standing with a valid Connecticut public library card may use the machine. There is no charge for this service and does not require any purchases. DVDs circulate for 7 days, audio books for 14 days, and books for 21 days. Items may be renewed online at www.owlibrary.org then select My Account or by calling the OWL at 860-567-8030. Renewing is fast and easy.  Materials checked out from the OWL Box may be returned in the drop box located outside The Bantam Market or at any public library in the State.

If you don’t have a library card, that’s easy to fix. To apply for a library card, visit your hometown library. Your hometown library is the library in the town that you live in. Library cards are free to residents of any age, and typically only need to be renewed every four years.

“The OWL Box responds to the busy life of working adults and families. Libraries are essential and this allows even more residents that full and free access to essential information that entertains, enlightens and informs” said White.

OWL Collaborates with Local Preschools
for Kindergarten Readiness

Studies have shown that students who enter kindergarten unprepared struggle to catch up to their classmates. If these students don’t catch up by the third grade, it’s likely that they never will. Now more than ever children need encouragement to enjoy reading. “Reading and understanding language is the most important factor for success in school and in life. If a child enters kindergarten and has never heard the words in a story before, they will be unable to comprehend and quickly left behind. Everyone needs to read to have success in life,” said Ann Marie White, Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library.

Oliver Wolcott Library’s Children’s Librarian Lisa Shaia provides an outreach program at local Litchfield preschools, visiting both the three-year-old and four-year-old classes at Litchfield Headstart, Litchfield Center School, School on the Green, and Room to Grow throughout the school year. Shaia helps support the preschool curriculum by bringing a correlated themed storytime. The half-hour long storytime includes new and classic picture books, flannelboard stories, fingerplays, musical instruments and a puppet friend. For example, Shaia will begin in September with concept books exploring the ABC’s with matching activities and various fingerplays.

“Outreach is so important because I help reinforce skills that the preschoolers are already learning,” said Shaia. “Being able to sit, follow directions, and understand stories are not things that children learn to do overnight. Storytime helps with these emergent literacy skills which is vital when they enter kindergarten.”

The collaboration also introduces families to the library, according to Shaia. “I’ve had parents come into OWL for the first time because their son or daughter has asked them to read a book they heard in storytime,” laughed Shaia. “Before I know it that family is checking out stacks of books every week and joining our summer reading program.”

In addition to outreach programs, the Oliver Wolcott Library also offers three weekly storytimes at the Library for children from birth to five years of age. To see the current storytime schedule at the Oliver Wolcott Library, please visit www.owlibrary.org and click on Children’s Programs.

 OWL awarded $36,500 in grants for outreach to Bantam

The Oliver Wolcott Library was awarded a $25,000 Praxair Foundations grant and a $11,500 Seherr-Thoss Foundations grant for their project called “OWL Box”, an outreach lending machine which is essentially a vending machine filled with books, audio books, and DVDs.

“We will be the first library in Connecticut to offer this new innovative service. We are very excited about this opportunity to reach out to the residents of Bantam as well as others who may find it hard to get to the OWL during normal business hours” said Ann Marie White, Library Director.

The grants will allow the OWL to purchase the machine, the book/DVD box drop that will be placed next to it, the maintenance agreement, and a one-time infusion of funds to purchase the additional materials needed to fill the OWL Box.

“We expect the OWL Box to be installed sometime in the month of September. We thank the Praxair Foundation and Seherr-Thoss Foundations for believing in this dynamic new service and funding it. We are also very grateful to Mr. Canciani, the owner of the Big Value of Bantam, who has agreed to allow us to place the OWL Box at the Big Value” said White.

“Big Value was our first and ideal choice for locating the OWL Box because it offers access to seniors, working adults, busy families, teens, and children. There are many families that live within walking or bike riding distance from Big Value. Now they can have access to library materials even if their parents are unable to drive them to the OWL. The senior bus routinely takes seniors to Big Value for grocery shopping. Now these seniors who have limited mobility can also have access to library materials” said Audra MacLaren, Adult Services Librarian.

The OWL Box will increase access to books, audio books, and DVDs. The OWL Box acts like a vending machine where patrons from any town may insert their library card, make selections, and the item drops down for patrons to take home. Any patron in good standing with a valid library card may use the machine. Items will be rotated at least once a week, and selections will be fine-tuned based on what circulates the most.

“The OWL Box responds to the busy life of working adults and families. If it’s 7 a.m. and you’re heading to New York City, you can stop at the OWL Box to pick up an audio book for the drive. If it’s 6pm on Sunday and you suddenly have a sick child at home, you can stop by for a DVD or a picture book for bedtime” White said. “It also responds by allowing us to extend our service without building a new building or adding staff. It’s a way to offer more services and the services our community needs. Libraries are essential and this allows even more residents that full and free access to the essential information they need.”


OWL Introduces “E-Lounge”


Get ready for an all new book discussion experience. Oliver Wolcott Library (OWL) introduces their new “E-Lounge,” an online book discussion forum where members can add comments and thoughts to posted discussion questions.

The OWL staff is always looking for ways to be innovative and expand their services to meet the growing needs of the community. The OWL currently hosts three traditional monthly book discussion groups. Library Assistant Cameron Bove found that many patrons would love to participate in a book club but simply do not have the time. “In today’s busy world, so many people are pressed for time and feel stressed about squeezing one more thing in their schedules. They find it difficult to read a book in one month and come to a discussion at a designated time. Previously, these patrons had no other option. They were shut out of the discussion process” said Bove. With these comments in mind, OWL’s E-Lounge online book discussion was born!

With the online E-Lounge patrons have a two month period to read the book and post comments at their leisure.  Two discussion questions will be posted on Thursday of each week for the eight week period. Members can post comments and thoughts under each discussion topic. Adult Services Librarian, Audra MacLaren says with enthusiasm that, “it is a fabulous venue for individuals that cannot get to the library for the book clubs, like busy moms, working adults, and homebound individuals. It gives members the freedom to log in at the time they choose to participate. The online book discussion will be open 24/7 so patrons can log on whenever they please and visit as frequently as they want.”

Both Bove and MacLaren will facilitate the E-lounge. The website is a private, for members only discussion. “We designed the E-lounge for privacy. We felt this was another important need expressed by our patrons. They want to discuss, post, and comment, but they don’t necessarily want the whole world to see their thoughts. The E-lounge is designed so that only members of the E-lounge see your comments. It is not accessible or viewable by the casual online browser. We hope that these added privacy measures encourage more patrons to join and actively participate.” Discussion will be moderated by Bove and MacLaren who said that, “off topic, rude and other similar posts will not be accepted”.  To become a member, submit your e-mail to Audra at amaclaren@owlibrary.org. To read more about the E-lounge, visit the OWL’s website at www.owlibrary.org then click on the E-lounge tab on the front page or by clicking on the Book Clubs/E-lounge Online Club tab.  The E-lounge will launch on July 1st with the summer selection, The Help by Katheryn Stockett.


UNICO donates $500 to Oliver Wolcott Library


The Torrington Chapter of UNICO delivered a check for $500 to the Oliver Wolcott Library to purchase books, CDs, and films on Italian language, culture and travel.

People travel extensively for work and pleasure. In today’s global world, people of all ages increasingly need to expand and enhance their ability to speak and read in a foreign language so that they can communicate and operate effectively. This includes students, teachers, adults, and seniors.  For work and pleasure, people travel to Italy and require current materials for travel information. “Our foreign language learning tools are in high demand with our patrons. All of the Library’s Italian learning tools were available in cassette format only. With this funding, we have now been able to replace the cassettes with CDs for Italian language instruction,” said Ann Marie White, Library Director of the Oliver Wolcott Library. “Additionally, UNICO’s generosity provides us with the ability to meet the growing need for information on Italy for travelers, business people, and students.”

In the last five years, the Library has seen significant growth in circulation of its materials with last year experiencing a 20% increase. In the last six months, this trend has continued to climb with every expectation and indication that demands for library materials and services will continue to grow. Mrs. White concluded, “We are truly thankful to the Torrington Chapter of UNICO.  The community needs to have current information. Because of UNICO’s generosity, we are going to able to meet that need.”

UNICO is an Italian American Service Club that seeks to provide fellowship among its members and to perform charitable, educational, and patriotic deeds for its fellow citizens, community and country. The Torrington Chapter is the second oldest and one of the largest chapters in the nation. Their website is ctunico.org/torrington.html

Podcasting comes to OWL

In recent years, advances in technology along with an interest in online and downloadable programs have increased significantly. People now watch documentaries and film clips or listen to audio books on the internet. Oliver Wolcott Library recently implemented podcasting for their monthly Author’s at OWL Series. Podcasts are audio files taped from a live event, allowing patrons to relive an author talk they attended at OWL or listen for the first time if they missed the live event.

Ann Marie White, OWL Director, said, “Our author events bring fascinating authors to the Library to discuss their work. With podcasting, we can now preserve these insightful events and share them with a wider audience.” It may sound complicated, but a podcast is basically a series of digital media files, either audio or visual, that are released regularly and downloaded through an online forum.

Adults lead busy lives and often cannot attend a program. “What is unique and valuable to patrons is that they can now have access to the audio files of past programs online,” states Audra MacLaren, OWL Adult Services Librarian. “Often patrons really wanted to come to one of our programs but were unable to because of their schedule or mobility issues. With the podcast’s, they can now go online to our website and listen to that author!” MacLaren also notes that it not only benefits those who are unable to attend some of the programs, but for those who want to re-visit the conversation or lecture. “They might have missed something the first time around or forgot to write down a certain name or title they wanted. Now with a couple clicks of the mouse they can listen to the podcast as much as they like, even sharing it with others who couldn’t come.” To listen to an OWL original podcast, visit their website at www.owlibrary.org and click on the link to “Podcasts at OWL” found on the lower left-hand side of the front page. This will direct you to a listing of the podcast selections on the website and is updated regularly with new additions.


Oliver Wolcott Library Introduces “Travel Suitcase To Go Kits”

Get your child ready to travel with Oliver Wolcott Library’s new Travel Suitcase To Go Kits, perfect for families that like to plan and learn together.  Similar to the Storytime To Go Kits, the suitcases all have a theme revolving around their specific destination. The suitcases highlight ten popular destinations including: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty, and Maine. Each is packed with picture books, board books and a CD about or relating to the location. Some suitcases also include maps and sightseeing information for specific locations. All suitcases contain materials suitable for preschoolers through third graders. This project was generously funded by a grant from the Litchfield Education Foundation. Stop by the Library today and “get packing!”

Connecticut Old State House Museum Pass at

Oliver Wolcott Library

Oliver Wolcott Library announces the addition of the Connecticut Old State House Museum to their library pass collection! The Connecticut Old State House is one of the oldest remaining state houses in the nation. Tour the newly restored legislative chambers, the executive branch offices and the courtroom, either on your own or with one of the guided tours. When there, check out the Mortensen Gallery or Joseph Stewart Museum of Curiosities.  Currently on display in the Mortensen Gallery is an interactive multi-media exhibit highlighting over 300 years of Connecticut history. The Joseph Stewart Museum of Curiosities is a re-creation of the original Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities which was a part of the building in 1798.

The Old State House Library pass has a two-day loan period and grants free admission for up to two adults and two children. The pass is available free of charge to Oliver Wolcott Library card holders. When you check the pass out, you will also get a binder containing information and fun facts about the Connecticut Old State House, directions and hours, activities and a list of “what to read” before you go for both children and adults. Stop by the Library to check out the Old State House Library pass, or one of our other great passes and start exploring!

Book A Librarian

 In today’s world, technology is an integral part of our lives. Many residents, especially older adults, were previously shut-out of this world or left trying to afford expensive classes on subjects that often didn’t address their skill or specific need. Audra MacLaren, the Oliver Wolcott Library’s Adult Services Librarian, recognized this need and with Ann Marie White, Library Director, implemented a program they call “Book-a-Librarian”.

Book-a-Librarian offers library users a personalized one-on-one half-hour instructional session on any technology topic. Ms. MacLaren notes that she has covered any number of technology topics including how to use a mouse, access itunes and use an ipod, web searching, e-mail, online job searching, wireless technology and access, and downloading and uploading photographs digitally. Since its inception in September of 2008, Audra MacLaren has offered more than 162 sessions.

“Many people use this service more than once which we welcome. Others only need my assistance to understand how to use their new laptop wirelessly then they are all set. All of them are so very thankful for this service that we offer freely to anyone in need” says Audra MacLaren.

Previously, the Library offered classes on a topic for up to ten students at a time. Ann Marie White, Library Director, reflected that, “We discovered that the classroom environment did not work for this particular need. Patrons who need basic technology assistance typically have a very specific topic and have extremely divergent skill levels. Both of these factors make the classroom environment a disaster where the instructor ultimately helps no one. With the personalized service, we are able to help each and every patron we serve because we can go at their pace and cover the exact topic they need to understand.”  On average, the Oliver Wolcott Library “books” 10 sessions a month. “By removing the classroom environment and substituting it with the personalized Book-a-Librarian instruction, we help more people but remain efficient. We removed what didn’t work and replaced it with what does. This way we remain efficient with staff time while simultaneously improving our service”.  Continuous improvement and staff efficiency are core values of the Oliver Wolcott Library, and the staff constantly stay focused on that goal.

Booking a Book-a-Librarian session is easy. Interested people only need to call the Oliver Wolcott Library at 860-567-8030, or stop in at the Library located on 160 South Street in Litchfield to reserve a time to meet with the Adult Services Librarian, Audra MacLaren. Sessions are available in the morning and evening.

OWL Blog Explodes With Hits!

The Oliver Wolcott Library’s innovative blog is now averaging 188 visits per day or approximately 1,300 visits each week! The blog originally started in February of 2007 with the idea to create a new, inventive way to communicate with patrons and help them to establish a personal connection with the Librarians at OWL. It was to give a behind the scenes look into the Library. Topics and subjects range greatly and depend on the writers, but it always relates back to OWL’s collection and services. Currently, there are five blog writers: Ann Marie White, Audra MacLaren, Jesse Lee Harmon, Lisa Shaia and Sarai Druan. Each of the writers brings new and exciting ideas to the blog as well as highlighting the Library’s treasures. The blog is both personal as well as informative; you might learn, for instance, how to plant a garden by the moon phases, while other entries may describe interests, hobbies, favorites and even childhood memories.  What is both surprising and pleasing is the amount of people who do read the blog. Director Ann Marie White says: “When I’m out and about in the community it’s great to hear people come up to me and say they are reading the blog and enjoying it very much. I feel that we are truly adding value to what we do and helping people to get excited about our collection.” If you aren’t reading the blog yet, find out what your friends and neighbors are talking about. New blogs are posted every Friday on the Library’s website, or subscribe to the Library’s e-newsletter where the link the newest blog is posted each Saturday morning on the left-hand side of the e-newsletter. Log on to www.owlibrary.org to check out the latest blogs, or browse through the blog archives to catch some of the ones you may have missed. To subscribe to the newsletter, log into the website, enter your e-mail address into the “Join e-list” box. You will learn a lot about your Librarians, and you may even learn something new, but most importantly you can get an inside look at the wonderful items that inhabit the shelves at OWL.

Oliver Wolcott Library is Awarded 3 Grants!

Oliver Wolcott Library receives three grants to support its youth services programs. Because of a grant from Litchfield Education Foundation, Oliver Wolcott Library will launch a Teen Summer Reading program. Children’s Librarian Lisa Shaia stresses the importance of such a program, stating: “there were no programs tailored to their age group to encourage their literary experiences throughout the summer months. With the Litchfield Education Foundation’s support, the Library can now offer the first Summer Reading Program to teens in 7-12 grades.” The theme of the program, Express Yourself, will pair reading with creative activities like photography, music and writing and will culminate in a reception. Litchfield Education Foundation’s mission is to promote excellence and innovation in public education throughout the entire community.

A second grant, from the Connecticut Community Foundation, will make two performances for pre-school aged children possible. Children ages 2-6 will dance, sing, laugh and listen to stories in a story-song performance, and a program of interactive music and movement designed to facilitate language development, reading readiness and literacy! These programs are a vital part of children’s growth and literacy skills. The mission of the Connecticut Community Foundation is to engage the community to address its needs by connecting charitable resources to sustainable programs in human services, education, the environment, health care and the arts.

The third grant that Oliver Wolcott Library received is from Civic Family Services. With this grant, OWL can now replenish their collection of children’s audio books on cassette with new ones on CD! Shaia notes that “read-alongs are essential to a preschooler’s kindergarten readiness and love of reading that will encourage them to keep coming back to the Library.” The rest of the money will go towards high-quality educational software for the children’s computers. The older software will be replaced by new games that encourage children’s development in many areas! These new additions are all possible because of Civic Family Services, a non-profit organization that is based in Bantam, CT.

It is through wonderful organizations like these that provide grants to non-profit organizations that make so much possible at the Library. With these grants, the Oliver Wolcott Library will be able to offer a wonderful Teen Summer Reading Program as well as two programs for pre-school children, and to extend their collection of children’s books with CD’s and education software.

Grant Funded “Story Time To-Go Kits” at

Oliver Wolcott Library


Thanks to a grant from the Litchfield Education Foundation, Oliver Wolcott Library now offers ten unique “Story Time To-Go Kits!” The kits can be used for bedtime storytime, slumber party activities and weekend trips. They’re perfect for families on-the-go, weekend visits with grandchildren, or simply a fun time. Each of the kits has a different theme and contains a variety of exciting materials, including a hardcover book, a music CD, DVD, a puppet, and/or an educational game. Children’s Librarian, Lisa Shaia, specifically selected all of the material inside each kit for its appeal to children and educational value. They are an excellent educational tool for families to use together, while offering a variety of activities and themes that promote learning and reading. Most kits are for children from 12 months to 8 years of age but each kit also has recommended age levels so you know which one will be best suited for your child. The kit comes in a handy, easy-to-transport container and can be checked out of the Library for a period of 1 week.


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