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Check out some snowshoes at the public library

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s Ilsley Public Library still boasts an abundance of suspenseful books that can boost the reader’s heart rate while on the imaginary hunt for treasure or a clue in a well-spun mystery.
Now the Ilsley — and indeed an increasing number of other Addison County libraries — are offering other amenities aimed at getting people’s pulses to jump through a variety of physical activities, ranging from tennis to strumming a ukulele.
The Ilsley has just added snowshoes to its collection of non-literary items available for borrowing. And with almost two feet of snow on the ground thanks to last weekend’s storm, the snowshoes should become popular commodities from now until mud season.
“We are thrilled to… offer this resource to the community,” said Ilsley Executive Director Dana Hart. “I have heard from many residents how much they value the natural beauty of Middlebury and enjoy spending time outside, and I want the library to reflect that community value. These snowshoes are a great example of how libraries can be gateways to all kinds of experiences.”
Middlebury’s two libraries have been given a combined 10 pairs of snowshoes, stored in convenient backpacks, to loan out for a week at a time. Six pairs are available at the Ilsley; the other four can be borrowed from the Sarah Partridge Community Library in East Middlebury.
Ilsley’s collection includes four pairs for children, and one pair each for an adult man and one for an adult woman.
The Sarah Partridge collection includes two pairs for kids, and one pair each for an adult man and woman.
Elsewhere, Platt Memorial Library in Shoreham, Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol and the Starksboro Library also received snowshoes through the same grant from the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and “Come Alive Outside Vermont.” Come Alive Outside is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works closely with partners in health care, public health, outdoor recreation and the landscape profession to get people off the couch and back outside in communities throughout North America.
The Addison County Athletic Foundation is also supporting the program. And additional snowshoes are being purchased for the libraries in Lincoln and Salisbury through a separate grant from Rise VT, and will be available in February.
The Ilsley has already built a diverse collection of non-book-related items to borrow.
If you have a library card, you can borrow movies, ukuleles, a new Blu Ray-DVD player, puzzles, a telescope, tennis rackets and a device that can project video content from your computer onto a big screen.
“When people think of libraries they tend to think of indoor activities, but increasingly library services extend beyond library walls,” Hart said. “I hope library patrons enjoy using these snowshoes to get outside and be active with friends and family.”
Middlebury Mountaineer was instrumental in sourcing the snowshoes, noted Tricia Allen, youth resources librarian at the Ilsley.
“Their overarching goal is to get people out and active, as much as possible,” Allen said. “I’m thrilled they’ve partnered with libraries to meet that goal.”
The snowshoes will be linked to a “Winter Passport Program” that Come Alive Outside uses to keep children and their families active. This season’s Winter Passport will urge its holder, among other things, to go to their local library to check out a pair of snowshoes.
“We really enjoyed our participation in the passport program last year,” Allen said. That passport program called on participants to visit local parks, the Trail Around Middlebury, area playgrounds, along with attending such events as Middlebury WinterFest and the winter farmers market.
Ilsley served as a Come Alive Outside  “prize center” for Addison County. Once kids received a certain amount of points on their passport, they were able to claim prizes that included hats and water bottles.
“The Come Alive Outside Winter Passport Program is really trying a wide range of activities that will get kids and their families out of the house during the winter, whether it’s ideally being active and getting your heart rate up, and also becoming more involved with the community, reaching out to neighbors and others,” Allen said.
You need an Ilsley Library card to be eligible to borrow snowshoes. All Middlebury residents are eligible for an Ilsley Library card, as are Addison Central School District students. The fee for out-of-towners to join the library is $45 annually for an individual, and $70 for families. Financial aid is available.
Hart and Allen hope the Ilsley’s inventory of loanable items will keep growing.
“If there are items the community wants and that are in demand, we would love to hear from people what they’d like to see,” Hart said. “We’re really only limited by space and budget. But we have some wiggle room in both, and can certainly building this ‘library of things.’”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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