This, the first of my talky blog posts, is dedicated to Sybil Brigham McShane, State Librarian of Vermont, who is retiring at the end of June. I will miss her.

I first met Sybil in the early 1990’s when she was Assistant State Librarian and I was Director of the Dover Free Library. Through a grant administered by the Department of Libraries, we were able to purchase our first (woo-woo!) microcomputer, and she helped with every aspect of setting up and getting connected to the Vermont Automated Library System. I remember her patient support on the phone, how she told me not to worry when jagged lines suddenly flashed across my monitor; it had probably just come unplugged. If she was rolling her eyes as she spoke, she never let on.

Another memory is a workshop with Sybil at the dawn of the World Wide Web. Librarians were gathered around computer screens watching as an image arrived, so…sl…o…w…ly, but then there it was: a whale! Or was it an elephant? I can’t remember, but it was a miracle! Some say that Al Gore took credit for inventing the Web, but I knew he had no such claim — it was Sybil.

We have Sybil to thank for the Vermont Online Library, a valuable collection of high-quality electronic resources that are made available to Vermonters through their public, school, and academic libraries. Many of the resources I plan to highlight in this blog are part of the VOL. During my brief time on the committee to choose the VOL vendor, I learned a bit about what it takes to pull a project like that together, including negotiation skills, goodwill, technical & library know-how, and an ability to work with complicated budgets and legal requirements. All in a day’s work for the State Librarian, I guess.

Thank you, Sybil, and I hope you have a wonderful retirement.

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