Moscow Pullman Daily News Saturday Library Columns

The Saturday edition of the Moscow Pullman Daily News carries a regular column contributed by one of these five area libraries: Latah County Library District; Neill Public Library; University of Idaho; Whitman County Library District; and Washington State University Libraries. We reprint the most recent columns here, with permission.

Confronting Grief


By Amber Ziegler
February 11, 2023

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Ziegler works in circulation at the Moscow Library

There are oceans of possibilities for avoiding the dreaded summer slide


By Stacie Echanove and Mason Neil

School is out and summer is here, and we’re gearing up for our favorite time of the year — summer reading. This season is also known for the summer slide, our not-so-favorite term for the loss of hard-earned literacy skills experienced by young readers during summer vacation. The summer slide might sound like a good time, but can lead to students feeling frustrated and unprepared when they return to school in the fall.

Fortunately, summer reading is back once again with even more in-person programs, to-go activities and prizes to fill your reading with fun and festivities. This year’s theme is “Oceans of Possibilities,” and the program will run Monday through July 27 at all locations of the Latah County Library District.

Starting Monday, participants of all ages can register at any branch in Latah County to begin their summer reading journey. Upon sign up, you’ll receive a reusable book bag with all the goods you need to complete up to three summer reading challenges: 10 days of reading, a bingo on our activity sheet and then a bingo blackout.

Each part of summer reading comes with the chance to win cool prizes. Begin by reading for 10 days — read as much or as little as you want, and take as long as you need. Once you’ve completed this first challenge, you can start filling in your summer reading bingo sheet of reading and summer related activities. If you complete a bingo (five activities in a row), our most daring readers can then attempt finishing every challenge on your sheet — what we call a bingo blackout.

When you’ve completed any of these three challenges, you can come to the library to report your progress. Each challenge completion counts as a grand prize entry, and you’ll also receive incentive prizes with every report you submit.

Prizes aren’t the only fun parts of summer reading. We’ll also have lots of engaging programs and activities to help celebrate summer. At the Moscow branch, we’ll be hosting programs with the renowned Reptile Man, Scott Peterson, the Extreme Scientist, Radical Rick, and silly songs with Eric Herman and Puppy Dog Dave.

The Moscow Library also will be teaming up with the city of Moscow arts department to bring you Entertainment in the Park. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and meet us at East City Park at 6 p.m. June 30 and July 7 for an evening of music and lively literacy celebration. The program will begin with a joyful storytime before we will welcome our guest performers. You can find more information about Entertainment in the Park at

Not in Moscow this summer? No problem. There’s even more fun to be had at the six other locations of the Latah Library District, with programs happening in Bovill, Deary, Genesee, Juliaetta, Potlatch and Troy throughout June and July. Watch for exciting programs including Juice Box and Paint in both Deary and Bovill, tie-dying in Troy, button making in Juliaetta, a performance of Carmen and the Bull by Northwest Opera in Potlatch, Reptile Man in Genesee and so much more.

Every week of summer reading will have an activity for school-age readers throughout the district. If we’re not hosting an in-person event, then you’ll be able to find passive or to-go library programs, including fan favorite, Fairyopolis, as well as to-go STEM activities. You can stay in the loop with all summer events by following the Latah County Library District on Facebook, and checking our events calendar We can’t wait to see you this summer. It’s going to be a splash!


Echanove is youth services manager and Neil is outgoing adult services manager for the Latah County Library District.

Go to the library, then go outside


By Michelle Sturdy

We made it through the April showers, so now it is time to enjoy the May flowers. Let us appreciate the flowers and all the other lovely things spring and summer have to offer. We are lucky to have access to beautiful outdoor spaces on the Palouse and surrounding areas. Kamiak Butte County Park is one of my favorites for early season wildflowers. I am also fond of Elk River Falls, Moscow Mountain, Spring Valley Reservoir, Potlatch Canyon Trail and the Giant White Pine Campground and Trailhead, among others.

We all enjoy the outdoors in our own way — fishing, hunting, gardening, geology, birdwatching, plant appreciation, hiking, biking, camping, solitude and more. The outdoors and libraries are for everyone. Each of us comes to nature in our own unique way. I think that is magical. Libraries have an abundance of great resources to help us each enhance our own unique outdoor experience.

I like asking “why” and making observations when I am outside. This is where the libraries help me out. Sometimes I want to know what something is: What was that alien plant in front of me? It was British Columbia wildginger (Asarum caudatum). The first time I saw it I was intrigued because I had never seen anything quite like it. I figured it out using plant guides (some from the library) and the Internet. I saw a ladybug (Hippodamia convergens) aggregation last summer; it was fun and informative to read about these charming insects’ group behavior.


In addition to plant and animal field guides, libraries carry books about geology, camping and camp cooking, gardening (books ranging from beginner to expert), maps and atlases, fishing, hunting and so much more. If you can think it up, the Latah County Library District probably has a book for that. When you cannot find something in the district’s collection, we can find something for you through the Valnet consortium of libraries (the Latah County Library District is a participating member) and put it on hold for you, or get you a book through interlibrary loan. You can also submit a purchase suggestion. Computers, with Internet access, are available at all district libraries (Moscow, Deary, Genesee, Potlatch, Bovill, Juliaetta and Troy) for patrons to look up information about their outdoor pursuits and interests. Some libraries have free seeds available to patrons; contact your local library to inquire about seed exchange programs.

I recently, while walking my dog through the woods, came upon a person resting in a portable camping hammock and reading a book. I am definitely going to follow suit when I get the chance; what a great way to enjoy a book and a hammock on a hike. I also like to listen to audiobooks when walking or hiking alone, but only in one ear so I can still listen for animals and recreating humans. I check out audiobooks from the library using the Libby by Overdrive app; Libby is one of my favorite and most used library resources. If you are new to Libby or need help navigating the app, head to the library and we will help you out. Whether you are looking to read (or listen to) a book outside or gathering information for your outside activities; stop by your local library before you head out into the great outdoors. Have fun on your outside adventures, whatever they may be.

Sturdy is the library manager at the Troy branch.

Freedom to read powerful books


By Michael Riley
Apr 2, 2022

Every morning, in libraries and homes and schools throughout Latah County, people flip switches, metaphorical and literal, to turn on the lights, open doors and put books in the hands of citizens, letting the light of wisdom shine out. Because that’s what books do: they draw us outside of ourselves and open us to possibilities that we can’t see in the dark.

The Idaho House recently entertained the old and tired habit of shutting off the power to libraries and their readers through their misguided, but aptly named, House Bill 666, in which they would criminalize having books on library shelves that qualify as “harmful materials,” and hold library staff responsible for providing such materials. This movement to ban books is gaining ground in our country, as administrators, school boards and local representatives take it upon themselves to be the gatekeepers of acceptable reading and knowledge acquisition.

What library employees and readers and teachers all know, though, is that you can’t limit learning without reducing it. Reading a good book can open worlds we hadn’t considered, allow us to see our own place in the world we often feel separated from, and work powerful change upon us. A few years ago, in partnership with the Education Department at Washington State University, I worked with students, teachers and parents to read various young adult novels and discuss their merits. I got paid in books and made them available to my students.

One kid, reading the first few pages of “Gabi, A Girl in Pieces,” told me in amazement, that this was the first time she had read a book where characters looked and talked like her. Of course an Idaho legislator might find that language objectionable, but for me, allowing a young Latina middle schooler to see herself on the written page, that more than made up for some coarse words. Books that come from a variety of perspectives and points of view recognize us, allow us to recognize ourselves and our place in this society, and show us a reality not often shared in our school textbooks. Reading, and the learning it imparts, teaches us that we ourselves are not “harmful material,” and that we should resist all efforts to label us or others in those demeaning terms.

I have been having fun in recent months with the Latah County Library’s “Something for YA” teen subscription boxes, in which readers of all ages fill out a checklist of their favorite books and authors and genres, and then a book is provided within those parameters, along with fun themed snacks and trinkets. Since I’d ticked the list with science fiction and LGBTQ reading interests, I got a book full of teen angst, with alien abductions and both closeted and openly gay characters. It was a terrible book. But I’m not about to support those who would pull it from the shelves and bully the librarians that chose it for me. Art and love and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder, and I’m pretty sure that this book was not for my eyes only.

Another book I recently started reading, “Grace Year,” is a fascinating blend of Hunger Games (banned), Handmaid’s Tale (banned), and “Lord of the Flies (banned). In it, young women in their teens are sent away to have their wicked young sinfulness expunged from them with violence, far from the serene town in which they live sheltered and stultifying lives. The codified gender roles, the violence against women, the push to squash the sassiness and individuality of the main character, an older Junie B. Jones (banned), all of these are daily fare for so many women in our society. And holding these misguided roles up for examination in a clearly fictional world allows us to view our own moral stance on these kinds of behaviors much more clearly. Because all around us, in a seriously real and challenging world, it’s a lot to take in.

So for readers and their parents, students and their teachers, legislators and their constituents, libraries and their patrons, I say, be thou not afraid. Let your light of learning shine out brightly, and don’t let anyone put a bushel-basket over you to dim it.

Riley is a Potlatch resident and member of the Latah County Library District board of trustee