Celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Month

This October we're celebrating Dyslexia Awareness Month! Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects the way an individual processes language. It is characterized by unexpected difficulty with reading in relation to an individual's intelligence. Common characteristics of dyslexia include difficulty reading, difficulty with accurate and fluent word recognition, a deficit in the phonological components of language, difficulties with sequencing, and poor spelling. 

It is important to know that dyslexia is not uncommon. 15–20% of Americans live with the condition and, while this is changing, many people aren’t familiar with the term “dyslexia” and may not know what it is or how it affects an individual. Because dyslexia affects so many Americans, chances are you know someone with dyslexia. They could be classmates, coworkers, family members, the people and staff you interact with at the Library or at the other places you visit. 

Earlier this year, a Pioneer Grant was awarded to Community Engagement Librarian Kim Baker to kickstart the development of a new service offering for dyslexic individuals, their caretakers, or people looking to learn more about dyslexia.

As a result, we're celebrating Dyslexia Awareness Month with virtual programming, book recommendations, and staff training. This booklist is full of children’s books featuring characters with dyslexia. The recommendations are a great way for individuals with dyslexia to see themselves in books and, for others, to gain a better understanding of what living with dyslexia is like. Our recently-updated children’s website also features new pages on dyslexia and dyslexia resources. Additionally, signage has been updated in the Main Library and Ellettsville Branch children’s areas to follow dyslexia-friendly guidelines.

You may notice the pqbd symbol featured on our graphics. It is a symbol for dyslexia awareness created by Rebecca Warner, founding member of Decoding Dyslexia Virginia. The logo is created with the letters p, q, b, and d, and is symbolic of letter reversal, an issue that many people with dyslexia experience. 

In addition to public-facing programs and services, we're working to raise internal awareness of dyslexia by providing staff with training designed to increase understanding of dyslexia and its characteristics. Training includes discussion on actions we can take to better serve patrons with dyslexia and reading simulations so staff can gain a deeper understanding of challenges a person with dyslexia may experience.

Here are some useful library resources for readers with dyslexia:

Throughout October, our social media channels will feature Dyslexia Awareness Month content. Like and share posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to help spread awareness of this common neurological condition. We'll continue to develop dyslexia resources, if you have ideas about how we can support members with dyslexia please share them here!

All's Faire in Middle School

Reviewed by Kim B., Librarian

Imogene has always felt sure of herself and happy with her life as the daughter of Renaissance Faire workers. But when it’s time for her to stop homeschooling and attend middle school with other kids Imogene is suddenly not so sure. To Imogene, fitting in in a world of dragons, sword fighting, Queens and knights seemed like a piece of cake, but fitting in in middle school? It seemed impossible. All’s Faire in Middle School is a unique coming-of-age story filled with great lessons about being yourself, finding your true friends, and realizing that fitting in is just a matter of being confident in who you are. This book would be well fit with anyone starting middle school, starting school after homeschooling, or anyone looking for how they can fit in. Appropriate for ages 9+


Library Installs Little Free Library in Will Detmer Park

A new Little Free Library has been installed in Will Detmer Park! 

According to children’s librarian, Ginny Hosler, “a Little Free Library is a free-standing book sharing box. Each Little Free Library has a steward, the person who sponsored and built the library, and each one is super unique to the neighborhood it lives in.” Find more information on the nonprofit organization behind the movement at littlefreelibrary.org.

Little Free Libraries are typically placed in locations where access to books is scarce. “We wanted to install the new library in a spot that would be utilized and helpful to the people who lived around it. Will Detmer Park was a great choice because it’s not near any of the Library’s branches or Bookmobile stops and is in a community park where people frequently go to play, walk, and garden,” Ginny said.

A partnership with the Monroe County Parks and Recreation made the Will Detmer Park library possible. Ginny said “their assistant director, John Robertson, helped us throughout this process by agreeing to and helping us focus our vision, brainstorming suitable spots, advising us on how to install the little free library and much more”.

lfl_2.jpgThe installation at Will Detmer Park is just one part of an ongoing Library project to support local Little Free Libraries. Through December, Library staff will stock local Little Free Libraries with books, dignity objects, and creativity kits. The project is funded by the Friends of the Monroe County Public Library

During the 2020 summer reading games, the Library donated hundreds of books to Little Free Libraries throughout Monroe County. In addition to purchasing new books, the Friends of the Library Bookstore donated used books to supplement collections at the new and existing locations. 

“We try to put a mixture of genres and age levels in the Little Free Library so that anyone can find something that works for them,” Ginny said.

Little Free Libraries contain more than just books. Since July, Library staff have stocked local libraries with human dignity kits and creativity kits. Dignity kits contain personal hygiene items such as soap, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes. They are available to anyone who needs them. 

Creativity kits are full of the materials and instructions you’ll need to complete a small creative project. “With the pandemic, I think many of us have missed library programming and the emphasis we put on creating and building skills together. While we can’t all be together in person at the Library for these crafts and projects, creativity kits are a way to bring these experiences out into the community. We hope people will find a little joy in using them!” Ginny said. Learn about the Library’s virtual programs.

The official Little Free Library motto is “take a book, share a book,” and that’s what Ginny hopes will happen with the Will Detmer Park library. 

“The amazing thing about Little Free Libraries is that anyone can contribute! You can take a book when you want to read something new or you can donate books that you’ve already enjoyed! The community is able to curate this library with donations of books and dignity items, and connect with others by taking care of it.” 

Want to find a Little Free Library near you? Find one with the Little Free Library map and search tool!

VITAL Receives $25,000 Donation from the Estate of Robert Klausmeier

Robert Klausmeier photo

Last fall, Volunteer in Tutoring Adult Learners (VITAL) said goodbye to Robert (Bob) Edward Klausmeier, a long-time VITAL tutor and advocate, who passed away at the age of 93. Over the course of 23 years, Bob worked with at least 30 learners, providing one-on-one tutoring to help adults achieve their personal literacy goals. This fall a $25,000 donation from the estate of Bob Klausmeier was gifted to VITAL, ensuring that generations of future learners will benefit from his generosity.

VITAL Coordinator, Bethany Turrentine, recalled her first meetings with Bob. “When I joined VITAL in 2012, it was my particular joy to meet Bob and learn about his rich history with the program. He felt very strongly about the core values of VITAL. I always enjoyed those conversations because he was just so funny.” 

According to Bethany, Bob had a unique skill set that was extremely valued in VITAL. The gift for teaching math. “That is an area that people really struggle with and for him it was so important that someone understand what they’re learning and why. Real-life learning was really important to him. There was a time when he helped us try to figure out ‘how do we train tutors to teach math’, and he was a part of the building of those resources for people.”

Bethany shared that even after Bob retired from tutoring, she continued to get phone calls from students whose lives he had touched. One former student expressed her gratitude for her experience with Bob. “My math tutor changed my life. He made the horribly complex into almost an art form. I’m now studying meteorology and I tutor math to 10 to 12 years olds who ‘don’t get it’ because Bob showed me how to ‘get it.’ Their eyes light up with confidence, thank you for your program, and I’m still keeping it going.” 

“His gift for teaching extended beyond his students – I too benefited from long conversations regarding the principles that guide VITAL activities, and his passion for adult literacy,” Bethany said.

In addition to generosity with his time and knowledge, Bob’s ongoing financial contributions made it possible for VITAL to buy materials and resources to meet the needs of their students. Though she knew a donation was coming, Bethany didn’t expect the magnitude of the final gift. 

“I was stunned by how generous his contribution was, and it made me so happy because right now, things are really uncertain. These huge inequalities that have always existed are getting bigger because of the pandemic. People do not have access to technology, they do not have access to computer resources. So people who are already struggling with literacy are at even that much more of a disadvantage.” 

According to Bethany, the goal is to do something long term to help increase access for people who struggle with those barriers, whether those barriers are technological or physical. “Clearly there is a need. The size of the gift really makes me think creatively about how we might meet that need.” While a final decision has not been made, “building a digital literacy program is at the top of the list.” 

However the funds are deployed, Bethany said “we are thrilled to explore the next chapter for VITAL, which has served the community for over 40 years. Already a VITAL legend, Bob’s legacy ensures a brighter future for adult learning in our community.”

Sci-Fi Fanzine Archives

One of the earliest international zine cultures was born out of science fiction fandom. Starting in the 1930s, science fiction fans began to publish what they called fanzines. These were usually collections of fan content and a community dialog. Many sci-fi writers got their start writing for and publishing fan zines. These zines usually consisted of content like reviews, trip reports, and letters to the editors. You can learn more about their history in the Zinebook article From Fandom to Feminism: An Analysis of the Zine Press by Heath Row.

There are a couple of places where fanzines have been archived online, the two main ones being Fanac and eFanzines.com. Fanac is a archive of fan content dating back to the start of fanzine history, with more than 11,000 issues archived. eFanzines is more of a place to find issues of fanzines as they are published. Both archives have amazing content, and are both worth a look. Here are some interesting titles.

CPASF Pamphlet 2 - "Rejected - Convention Committee

CPASF Pamphlet 2 - Rejected - Convention Committee Cover

From May of 1938, this zine consists of two speeches that were written but never given to a Newark sci-fi fan convention. The organizers of that convention required that all speeches be preapproved, and these two were rejected. Both address the perils of Fascism and call of sci-fi fans to rise against it and advance the cause of science and work towards a better world. This fanzine caused quite a stir in the sci-fi fandom, and caused a split in the NY sci-fi community, and led to the formation of the Futurians. “We are not scientists, we are its defenders. It is the duty of science-fiction to point out continually that science must win, that progress must go on, that reaction and fascism must be defeated.”


Scottishe 46 - December 1967

Scottishe 46 - December 1967

Published somewhere in the middle of its run (1954 - 1981) this issue of Scottishe is a fascinating slice of 60s UK sci-fi geek life with laments for the Man from U.N.C.L.E drawing to a close and the disappearing of Teddy boys. There are many more issues of this fanzine on Fanac.




Opuntia is a long running fanzine that still is published today, coming out about once a month. It covers a huge range of fandom, reviewing sci-fi and mystery and includes interesting slices of life from the author’s home of Calgary.


The Zine Dump

The Zine Dump

The Zine Dump is a modern day Factsheet Five-like publication for the modern fan zine world. It is a fan zine that reviews other fan zines, and is a great place to learn more about the fan zine community. This issue covers the 2020 Hugo awards for fanzines.


Claims Department

Claims Department

Claims Department is a fanzine involving one man’s life and travels, including photographs and insights into the things he sees in his daily life. Includes becoming a dad, visiting museums and art galleries, and preferences on books and movies.


Bunyip and ayotochtlit

Bunyip and ayotochtlit

Bunyip and ayotochtlit is a fan zine dedicated to publishing original fiction and nonfiction submissions via science fiction, only limiting to no slasher-horror. This is an interesting way to read peoples’ stories and varying versions of what science fiction means to different people.


Free Masks at the Main Library

Mask Drive Station

The Library is now home to a community mask station provided by Bloomington Mask Drive! Located in the vestibule of the Main Library, the self-serve station is stocked with free masks for adults and children and can be accessed during Library hours.

Wearing a face mask is one of the simplest, most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 and face coverings are required on Library premises. The Library is delighted to partner with Bloomington Mask Drive to offer free masks to the community and further its goal to provide a self and welcoming place for all.

Bloomington Mask Drive was founded by Kelly Clark and Nola Hartman, a former MCPL Librarian, with the mission to slow the spread of COVID-19 by providing clean, high-quality, homemade fabric masks to residents of Bloomington and Monroe County free of charge.

“Nola has told me many times that she feels that the Library is the heart of a community. So we are extremely excited to be back here and to have the Library's support,” said Clark.

The Library’s mask station is the fifth of its kind, and the first located in downtown Bloomington. It was constructed locally, free-of-charge, by Zolt Levay. The station is stocked with three types of masks: type A with extra protection for at-risk individuals, type B breathable masks, and type C sized for children 2–8 years old. Distributed in sets of two, masks are double layered and pleated to provide a close fit. Masks are washed, sorted, and quality-controlled using protocols developed by trained medical professionals, and using clean handling procedures.

Since the project began in March, the Bloomington Mask Drive has recruited over 350 volunteers and distributed more than 30,000 masks! One volunteer, Valerie Merriman, a former member of the Library Board of Trustees, has contributed hugely to these efforts. Through her unique connections, Merriman procured mask materials such as elastic and interface fabric that were difficult to find locally.

“I was able to search across the country and find a place in Missouri that had materials,” Merriman said. “We’ve been able to get all these materials wholesale, which has made all of the difference since we don’t charge for masks and rely on donations.”

Merriman is on a short list of mask drive volunteers who made over 1,000 masks individually. More than 1,200 by her count, actually. “I’ve been keeping track of my empty spools of thread and bolts of fabric. But it’s a labor of love, because it’s so needed.”

As more Bloomington Mask Drive stations are installed around Bloomington, the demand for masks increases. Visit BloomingtonMaskDrive.com to learn more about the organization, including how to become a volunteer! 


Library Announces New Associate Director

Grier Carson, Associate Director

The Library is excited to announce Grier Carson as its new Associate Director!

“Grier has a strong foundation and experience working in libraries and serving our own community, alongside a vision and passion for access, service, and programs,” said Marilyn Wood, Library Director. “He brings exceptional leadership qualities to our team.”

Grier began his path to librarianship here in Bloomington. As an undergraduate at Indiana University, Grier studied English literature and art history. “Old stuff has everything to do with why I work in libraries,” he said. “Literature led me to libraries; it’s a big part of who I am.” Grier received his Master of Library Science from IU’s School of Library and Information Science in 2006.

After graduating in 2006, Grier’s career led him to Lake Forest Academy, a boarding school in Illinois where he worked his way from librarian to Director of Libraries and Academic Technology. There Grier proposed and implemented a 1:1 iPad program, one of the first of its kind in the United States. Grier recalls that the process was “exciting, but also scary…a glorified gaming device ended up being transformative as an educational tool.”

Grier and his family moved back to Bloomington in 2013, when he became the Director of Putnam County Public Library. At Putnam County, Grier oversaw important renovations and expansions and increased outreach efforts. He also developed a training program for new librarians, hiring recent graduates with fresh ideas.

In 2018, Grier became Access and Content Manager at MCPL. In this new position, he pushed to make the Library less format-focused and more attentive to content and accessibility. Grier oversaw the expansion of the Library of Things and the addition of new digital services such as Kanopy, a film streaming service. Grier also took a leadership role in planning for a new Southwest branch where the collection would reflect the same vision.

In his new position as Associate Director, two priorities stand out to Grier––an ongoing effort to build bridges in the Library and community, and planning for a new Southwest Branch, slated to open in 2022 adjacent to Batchelor Middle School.

Although the new branch is still in the design phase, Grier sees it as a transformative thing. “It turns us into a bigger library system. With this additional access point, we’ll be even more accessible than we were before,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to live in a place where the public library is as strong and valued as it is here in Monroe County and look forward to evolving with the Library.”

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Reviewed by Paul D., Senior Information Assistant

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia is also available as an ebook through Hoopla.

Civil Discourse

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is an exciting, well-crafted, character-driven adventure, reminiscent of the Percy Jackson series’ Greek Myth formula. Seventh-grader Tristan, struggling to find himself living in the shadow of his father and grandfather and still reeling from the unexpected death of his best friend, is thrust into a fantastical world of West African and African-American myth and folklore. The story is action-packed and has many memorable moments, both thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to the engaging narration and the well-drawn supporting cast. Black history and the vibrant settings and characters are tied together with strong themes of emotional intelligence, friendship, and storytelling as a means of strengthening cultural identity. This book would make an excellent jumping-off point for personal reflection or family discussions about Black identity, masculinity, and the Black American cultural experience. Appropriate for ages 7+

This review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to our mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

VITAL Services Online

VITAL Services Online

The global pandemic has closed classroom doors around the world, but adult literacy and language services remain essential during this time of health crisis and uncertainty. According to Proliteracy, over 36 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third grade level. Adults lacking these essential skills have increased vulnerability to COVID-19, and are at greater risk for financial instability and other social issues.

Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners (VITAL) provides learning opportunities for adults who want to improve their reading, writing, math, or English-language skills. In order to safely continue services, VITAL services online provides distance learning opportunities that are flexible and can adapt to changing circumstances.

VITAL learners in a Zoom session

Virtual English Language Groups

VITAL volunteers offer weekly English language practice on Zoom. These small groups of English language learners practice speaking and listening, learn new vocabulary, improve pronunciation, and learn about American culture. The next session of English language groups begins September 6, new learners are welcome to join at any time.  


Guided Self-Paced Learning 

VITAL staff provide an initial assessment and help adult learners set goals for learning at their own pace, at times that are convenient for them. While the Library is closed, assessments will be conducted virtually via phone or video conferencing. Based on student preferences and technology access, we’ll recommend high quality print or online resources for learning:

Learning independently can be challenging. VITAL staff will help with selecting and accessing resources, and provide ongoing support, encouragement, and technology assistance for self-paced learners. When available, volunteer tutors may be assigned to help meet individual learning goals. 

Complete the  VITAL Interest Form to get started with VITAL services online.  VITAL staff will respond as soon as possible.  

VITAL services are evolving to meet the needs of the community, details on expanded services will be forthcoming.  


Library Fantasy Virtual Escape Room

Fantasy Escape Room

Do you enjoy puzzles and fantasy games? Try our fantasy escape room! With themes reminiscent of a Dungeons and Dragons game, you can attempt to escape the Wizard Tower. You don't have to complete all of the puzzles to finish the game, but completing different puzzles makes for different endings. 

You can attempt this escape room by yourself or as a group. Click on hints on the way if you need help. This escape room is intended for teens but adults and children can test out their mettle too! Good luck!

Enter the escape room