In the News

In the News

No Records, No History: Opening and Preserving Sam’s Box

May/June 2022

The Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes, Vt., recently preserved historic documents from the Strong family dated to the late 1700s, thanks in part to a DAR Historic Preservation Grant sponsored by the Seth Warner-Rhoda Farrand Chapter, Vergennes, Vt.

American Spirit

Lego contest brings fun, creativity to Bixby

March 10, 2022

VERGENNES — Displays including a zoo, a dream home on pillars, and a space ship filled most the first floor of the Bixby Library in Vergennes on the last Saturday in February.

The kids and adults who crafted those Lego creations joined them at the Bixby, as did the four judges — Bixby Library Director Catharine Hays, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes official Steven Maluenda, Rokeby Museum Director Lindsay Houpt-Varner, and State Senator Ruth Hardy — who picked the winners of the Bixby and club’s fourth annual Lego Contest. Read more.

Addison Independent

Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) Funding to Support the Creation of “Bixby History Kits” from the Library’s Object and Artifact Collections

February 2022

Bixby Library is proud to announce that it has been awarded a Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) grant to continue bringing the library’s Object and Artifact Collections to life. In 2019, the library documented a complete inventory of donations made over the decades. In 2020, a CVNHP grant enabled the library to understand and develop a process to comply with the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1993 which helps museums and other cultural institutions return items of indigenous American origin to their native In 2021, The Bixby Board of Trustees formed an Historical Collections Committee and updated its policies to reaffirm the library’s central role in curating, preserving, digitizing for broader access and providing contextualized presentation of the many archival and objects collections that celebrate the remarkable history of our five towns. Read the full press release here.

This Place in History: Stephen Bates


Stephen Bates was Vermont’s earliest known Black sheriff and chief of police, living and serving in the City of Vergennes from 1879-1907. Bates was born enslaved in Virginia. He escaped in 1862 and came to Vermont after the Civil War with U.S. Congressman Frederick E. Woodbridge. Watch the full interview with Bo Price here. Read the transcript here.

This Place in History, produced in partnership with Local 22 & Local 44 ( and the Vermont Historical Society.

Virtual Black History Month event Saturday to honor Vermont’s first-known African-American sheriff


VERGENNES, VT — On Saturday, a virtual panel called “Stephen Bates: From Slave to Sheriff” will honor the accomplishments and life of Vermont’s first-known African-American sheriff and police chief.

The event is hosted by the Bixby Free Library. Read the full story and watch the interview here.


Sights and Sounds: Feb. 24, 2022

Coverage of the Stephen Bates documentary showing and virtual panel. Read here.


Vermont PBS’ The Lift Newsletter Covers Two Bixby Events


Weekend plans haven’t clicked into place? Head to Vergennes. They’ve put together the 4th Annual Lego Contest and Exhibit and are spending Saturday building castles in the sky. You’d have to be thick as a brick not to go.

As Vermont’s first Black chief of police, Stephen Bates had an arresting career. Log on Saturday for the virtual panel Stephen Bates: From Slave to Sheriff and a brush with the law that combs through a fascinating story it’d be a crime not to know.

Vermont PBS – The Lift Newsletter

Black History Month program honors Vermont’s first Black sheriff


VERGENNES, Vt. (WCAX) – The Bixby Memorial Library in Vergennes is hosting a virtual Black History Month program this upcoming weekend about the life and legacy of the first-known Black sheriff in Vermont.

It’s called “Stephen Bates: From Slave to Sheriff.”

Bates was born into slavery in 1842 on Virginia’s Shirley Plantation. Fourteen years after the Civil War ended, he was elected sheriff of Vergennes. Bates held that position for two decades.

Laksamee Cave, the adult services librarian at the Bixby Memorial Free Library, says librarians and the research team want more Vermonters to know about Bates’ legacy and realize how rich Vermont’s Black history is. Read more.


Bixby to host online program on Black sheriff


VERGENNES — In a Black History Month presentation, The Bixby Memorial Free Library will host a virtual program exploring the life and times of Stephen Bates, the first-known African American sheriff in Vermont on Saturday, Feb. 26, from 1-2:30 p.m. The program includes an illustrated lecture, documentary film, and conversation and Q&A with Bates’ family members, historians, and community volunteers who helped unearth this history over the last two years. The program is free and pre-registration is required at Read more.

Addison County Independent

Bixby Library Repatriates Native American Remains 


In addition to its work as a traditional library, Vergennes’ Bixby Memorial Free Library serves as a repository for local, regional, and national cultural material dating from the pre-contact era to the mid-twentieth century.

This year, Bixby staff were able to build upon previous CVNHP-funded efforts to further develop its collections management plans by submitting inventories and summaries of the Native American artifacts in its custody to the National Park Service. The museum began the lengthy and important process of repatriating and rematriating the ancestors and belongings to their homelands.

Using a 2020 CVNHP Collections grant, the library completed the entire repatriation and rematriation process for three funerary belongings to a Native group in the Great Plains. The Bixby hopes to continue this work with the more than 200 collection items in consultation with the National Park Service. (Note: the repatriation and rematriation process disallows publishing specifics on locations and descriptions of the artifacts.)

Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership e-Newsletter

Vergennes to recognize Vt’s first Black sheriff, elected there in 1879


VERGENNES — Vermont is awash in history. Some of it is as obvious as the white clapboard churches and the monumental stone markers erected in honor of Civil War veterans. Other history is overlooked  — for a while, at least  — though no less important. Read more.

Addison County Independent

New Historical Marker in Vergennes Honors Stephen Bates, Vermont’s First Black Sheriff 


Stephen Bates served as sheriff and chief of police in Vergennes for almost 25 consecutive years between 1879 and his death in 1907. The recent resurgence of interest in Bates’ life and career culminates this week in the unveiling of a new historical marker commemorating him in Vergennes City Park. The park will be the site of a dedication ceremony on Sunday, October 3. A related exhibit, just down the street at the Bixby Memorial Free Library, is on view through the fall; an online version is available on the Bixby website. Read more.

Seven Days

39th annual Vergennes Day to celebrate Vermont’s Little City


The 39th annual Vergennes Day is being held on Friday, August 27th, and Saturday, August 28th. The weekend’s activities, hosted and sponsored by the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, City of Vergennes and area businesses, are a celebration of the city and community to be enjoyed by all ages.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. until they’re gone, KidsSafe Collaborative will be giving away bike helmets & doing free fittings at Bixby Library. At 1:45 pm. Bixby Library will hold its “Booked for Bikes” drawing at the bandstand which is sponsored by the library and Vergennes Rotary Club. Entries are accepted until August 21st. Read more.

Vermont Business Magazine

Friends of the Bixby Library Book Sale a Staff Pick at Seven Days


“Even though I’ve already hit it twice this summer, I’ll be checking out the third installment of the Bixby Memorial Free Library’s summer book sale on Saturday. Also, the delectable Vergennes Laundry is across the street, a delicious coincidence that I’m happy to exploit.” — Jordan Adams (Staff Writer)

Seven Days, Notes on the Weekend

Vermont Libraries Association VLAC21 Awards


The Bixby Library had a strong showing in the Vermont Library Association Outstanding Service Awards. Two of our Trustees, Ed Place and Marsha Hoffman, received the “Trustee Extraordinaire” and “Bixby Above and Beyond Award” respectively. Assistant Director Becky Johnston also received the “Most Positive Attitude During the Pandemic” award. Congratulations to these, and all the winners of the VLAC21 Awards!

Bixby Volunteers Thanked in Addison Independent “Volunteer Week 2021” Edition


In their annual Volunteer Week edition, the Addison Independent featured a beautiful ad thanking the Bixby Volunteers for their outstanding service to the library. Particularly during the difficult pandemic year, the Bixby volunteers maintained a caring, dedicated, and professional commitment to their roles. The work of the Bixby would not be possible without them. To learn more about the Bixby volunteers, and other Addison County volunteers featured in the Addison Independent, please follow this link to their website.

Vermont Humanities’ “Libraries in the Time of Covid”


The Bixby was featured along with several other libraries throughout the state in a March 10th presentation hosted by Vermont Humanities, “Libraries in the Time of Covid”. It’s worth a watch on YouTube if you’re in the mood to be inspired by the creativity and determination of the State’s 183 libraries. We are definitely going to borrow lots of ideas (how about a Virtual Dog Show?). Librarian Jessamyn West helps us to understand the role of the library in these unusual times.

VT Digger

How libraries across Vermont are continuing to serve people despite a pandemic

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Vermont’s public libraries have figured out how to serve their communities despite mandatory closings and limitations. Initially, like every institution in Vermont, libraries across the state shut down in early March to help combat Covid-19. But in mid-April, libraries found ways to reach people — through curbside services and expanded digital resources. In the months since, the individuality of each of Vermont’s libraries has shone through. Read More

Addison County Independent

New Bixby director returns to her roots

VERGENNES — The new director of the Bixby Free Memorial Library studied in Switzerland and Washington, D.C; worked high-powered government and corporate jobs in D.C. and New Jersey; and then held influential positions in the nonprofit and academic worlds in New York City and Philadelphia.
Catharine Findiesin Hays also spent her early years on an Addison family orchard, Yankee Kingdom, on the shores of Lake Champlain, and the 1980 graduate of Georgetown University had always wanted to return to Vermont. Read More

Addison County Independent

Legos spark imagination at Bixby Library

VERGENNES — From “Planet Earth” to “Star Wars: The Last Star Fire,” the main floor of the Bixby Library contained a universe of imagination on Monday evening, not to mention dozens of Lego sculptors and many more of the artists’ family members.
What filled the space under the library’s stained-glass dome was the awards reception for the second annual Vergennes Lego Contest and Exhibit, jointly sponsored by the library and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes. Read More

Seven Days

Public Libraries Adapt to the 21st Century … and Uphold Democracy 

Four Ionic columns and wide stairs in classic Greek revival style form the impressive and somewhat intimidating entrance to the Bixby Memorial Free Library. But inside, a large square foyer, lit from above by sunlight streaming through a colorful glass dome, seems to whisper, “Relax. You belong here. Stay a while.”
Listed on the national and state historic registers, the Bixby was built in 1912 as both a library and a community center. It remains true to those functions today. Read More

Addison County Independent

Second annual LEGO contest comes to Bixby

Are you into LEGOs? First-timers to fanatics will compete in the second annual LEGO contest and Exhibit at the Bixby Library in Vergennes. Online registration closed on Feb 3, but those still interested in participating can call the library at (802) 877-2211. Read More

Addison County Independent

Get ready for the LEGO contest at Bixby Library

VERGENNES — Lego-mania will return to the Bixby Library in Vergennes in mid-Feburary. The Bixby and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vergennes have announced they are co-sponsoring their second annual Lego Contest and Exhibit, which will culminate with a a Monday, Feb. 17 awards reception at the library. Read More

Addison County Independent

Search begins for new Bixby Library director

VERGENNES — The Bixby Memorial Library board of trustees on Tuesday decided to move forward with a search for the Vergennes landmark’s next director. Bixby Board Chairwoman Paula Moore on Tuesday said that advertising for the new library director will begin Feb. 1, with a four-month timetable. Read More

The Library Project

Bixby Memorial Free Library | Vergennes, Vermont

The goal: explore the libraries of Vermont. Come along! There’s so much to learn and the first stop is the Bixby.
Tucked into Vergennes, at last census under 3,000 souls, this gem is an architectural pantheon. Considered Greek Revival, the Bixby is Neoclassical in style. (Pinkies up when you read that.) Bixby was designed by the renowned New York firm Trowbridge & Livingston, who went on to design major New York City landmarks. Read More


This Place in History: Bixby Memorial Free Library

At ‘This Place in History’, we’re in Vergennes with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.
“We are going into what I think of as one of the most beautiful libraries in the state of Vermont, the Bixby Memorial Free Library. How was it built? Why was it built? It’s gorgeous. So let’s go check it out.” began Perkins.
“This building was built in 1911 and opened in 1912. It was definitely the first dedicated building used as a library and it was built as a library. We get that question where people ask if it was something beforehand and it was not,” said Executive Director Masha Harris. Read More