Spiritual Abuse

Continuing our series on crisis resources, here is a collection of materials on spiritual abuse. The descriptions are from the publishers, edited for length. Most of the books below are available at the Potsdam Public Library.

What is Spiritual Abuse?

Spiritual abuse generally involves leaders controlling others through “misuse of scripture, claims to divine authority, pressure to conform, and enforced accountability.” Victims are often isolated, and manipulated into silence. Spiritual abuse can include domestic violence, violence inflicted on children, emotional and psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. Perpetrators use claims of spiritual authority to manipulate victims, i.e., that “God wants” parents to beat their children.

It is horrifying to hear the stories of victims about church leadership providing instruction to families on the proper techniques for assaulting their own children, and how to shame and manipulate them into secrecy. Psychological abuse is even more rampant and harder to detect with victims left unsure if what’s happening is really abuse.

To any of our readers who have that feeling that “something’s not right,” I hope that you will find some answers in the books and resources below, and that you’ll find yourself on a path to healing.

–Annie

Podcasts and Videos

The Allender Center Podcast: Spiritual Abuse Series

FOCL YouTube Playlist: Diane Langberg

The Spiritual Abuse Podcast

Theology Gals: Spiritual Abuse

Books

ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing

When Emily Joy Allison outed her abuser on Twitter, she launched #ChurchToo, a movement to expose the culture of sexual abuse and assault utterly rampant in Christian churches in America. Not a single denomination is unaffected. And the reasons are somewhat different than those you might find in the #MeToo stories coming out of Hollywood or Washington. While patriarchy and misogyny are problems everywhere, they take on a particularly pernicious form in Christian churches where those with power have been insisting, since many decades before #MeToo, that this sexually dysfunctional environment is, in fact, exactly how God wants it to be.

The #MeToo movement has revealed sexual abuse and assault in every sphere of society, including the church. But victims are routinely ignored by fellow Christians who deny their accounts and fail to bring accountability to the perpetrators. All too often, churches have been complicit in protecting abusers, reinforcing patriarchal power dynamics, and creating cultures of secrecy, shame, and silence. Pastor and survivor Ruth Everhart shines a light on the prevalence of sexual abuse and misconduct within faith communities.

She candidly discloses stories of how she and others have experienced assault in church settings, highlighting the damage done to individuals, families, and communities. Everhart offers hope to survivors as she declares that God is present with the violated and stands in solidarity with victims. Scriptural narratives like those of Tamar and Bathsheba carry powerful resonance in today’s context, as do the accounts of Jesus’ interactions with women. God is at work in the midst of this #MeToo moment to call the church to repentance and deliver us from violence against the vulnerable.

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children.

Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring–specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy–and a way to reclaim lives.

Breaking the Silence contains important, action-oriented information about domestic violence and its pervasiveness in society. Sections include “myths” about domestic violence; a checklist to determine if a relationship is potentially violent; clergy resources for counseling, worship, and congregational outreach; rape; information for youth; and pages that can be customized with local and national contact numbers, e-mail addresses, and websites. Also includes questions for discussion and suggestions for using the book for training or as a youth and adult education tool.

What is the way forward for the church?
Tragically, in recent years, Christians have gotten used to revelations of abuses of many kinds in our most respected churches–from Willow Creek to Harvest, from Southern Baptist pastors to Sovereign Grace churches. Respected author and theologian Scot McKnight and former Willow Creek member Laura Barringer wrote this book to paint a pathway forward for the church.

We need a better way. The sad truth is that churches of all shapes and sizes are susceptible to abuses of power, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse. Abuses occur most frequently when Christians neglect to create a culture that resists abuse and promotes healing, safety, and spiritual growth.

How do we keep these devastating events from repeating themselves? We need a map to get us from where we are today to where we ought to be as the body of Christ. That map is in a mysterious and beautiful little Hebrew word in Scripture that we translate “good,” the word tov.

In this book, McKnight and Barringer explore the concept of tov–unpacking its richness and how it can help Christians and churches rise up to fulfill their true calling as imitators of Jesus.

This powerful book deals with the issue of how Christians, especially those called to counsel, can help survivors of sexual abuse find healing and hope. From 20 years of experience, the author demonstrates how counselors can walk alongside people deeply wounded by sexual abuse as they face the truth about who they are, who their abuser was, and who God is as the Savior and Redeemer of all life. Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse issues a strong call to the church at large to walk with survivors through the long dark nights of their healing.

According to the American Medical Association, one quarter of American women will be abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Loving support can make a tremendous difference to survivors as they struggle with the difficult process of healing and regaining trust in themselves and others. Often, however, pastoral caregivers possess the same misconceptions about domestic violence as does the uninformed public.

Al Miles addresses the issues related to inadequate pastoral response to this pervasive problem. He explores the dynamics of abusive relationships and the role that clergy members can take to heal this painful situation.

Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating Healthy Christian Cultures (in process)

‘Every time he wanted me to do something, he would quote scripture… I couldn’t argue with scripture, it was like arguing with God.’

The term ‘spiritual abuse’ is widely used across the Christian community. But what is it?
Sometimes spiritual abuse involves leaders misusing their position, but ministers can also be the victims. Common factors include control through misuse of scripture, claims to divine authority, pressure to conform, and enforced accountability. Individuals may be isolated, and compelled to secrecy and silence.

Drawing on a combination of extensive research, individual testimonies, and years of hands-on experience, Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys describe clearly the nature of spiritual abuse, and the best ways of countering it. Recovery is possible.

Sex is such an intimate topic historically wrapped in shame and when someone shares they were sexually abused, we may not know how to respond.

With recent #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, we are learning just how many men, women, boys, and girls have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted person, often family members or leaders in the church. Sexual abuse is rampant in modern society and now–sometimes many years later–sexual abuse survivors are sharing their stories.

Anne Marie Miller is a survivor of childhood clergy sexual abuse and has shared her journey toward healing with audiences all over the world. After speaking with thousands of survivors and their loved ones, she saw the need for a fundamental and practical guide for helping supporters of sexual abuse survivors understand the basics of abuse, trauma, healing, and hope.

Jesus and John Wayne is a sweeping, revisionist history of the last seventy-five years of white evangelicalism, revealing how evangelicals have worked to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism–or in the words of one modern chaplain, with “a spiritual badass.”

As acclaimed scholar Kristin Du Mez explains, the key to understanding this transformation is to recognize the centrality of popular culture in contemporary American evangelicalism.

Challenging the commonly held assumption that the “moral majority” backed Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 for purely pragmatic reasons, Du Mez reveals that Trump in fact represented the fulfillment, rather than the betrayal, of white evangelicals’ most deeply held values: patriarchy, authoritarian rule, aggressive foreign policy, fear of Islam, ambivalence toward #MeToo, and opposition to Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ community. A much-needed reexamination of perhaps the most influential subculture in this country, Jesus and John Wayne shows that, far from adhering to biblical principles, modern white evangelicals have utterly remade their faith, with enduring consequences for all Americans.

Walking through Psalm 23 phrase by phrase, therapist and author K.J. Ramsey explores the landscape of our fear, trauma, and faith. When she stepped through her own wilderness of spiritual abuse and religious trauma, K.J. discovered that courage is not the absence of anxiety but the practice of trusting we will be held and loved no matter what.

How can we cultivate courage when fear overshadows our lives? How do we hear the Voice of Love when hate and harm shout loud? This book offers an honest path to finding that there is still a Good Shepherd who is always following you. Braiding contemplative storytelling, theological reflection, and practical neuroscience, Ramsey reveals a route into connection and joy that begins right where you are.

The Lord is My Courage is for the deconstructing and the dreamers, the afraid and the amazed, for those whose fear has not been fully shepherded but who can’t seem to stop listening for their Good Shepherd’s Voice.

An internationally recognized counselor offers Christian leaders a clinical and theological framework for understanding how power operates, the effects of the abuse of power, and how power can be redeemed and restored to its proper God-given place in human relationships and institutions.

Trauma therapist Teresa B. Pasquale offers healing exercises, true-life examples, and life-giving discussion for anyone suffering from the very real pain of church hurt. Pasquale, a trauma survivor herself, understands the immeasurable value of our wounds once we’ve acknowledged them and recovered in community. That’s why the wounds are “sacred,” and the hope this book offers is a powerful message to anyone suffering from this widespread problem.

This book explores the nature of emotional wounds, trauma, and spiritual hurt that come from negative religious experience. Some of the features are: -Stories from a wide range of persons hurt by negative religious experience -Healing and contemplative practices to help readers explore their own spiritual story and practical ways to move towards personal healing -A journey through the experience of trauma in religious settings and how it is both relatable to other forms of trauma and distinctive-outlining both facets -An exploration of the author’s own personal and professional understanding of hurt, trauma, PTSD, and the power of resiliency and healing.

“Am I the only one who sees this–am I just imagining things? Is something wrong with me . . . or could this be abuse?”

Maybe you don’t know for sure: all you know is something feels off when you think about a certain relationship or interaction with an institution or organization. You feel alone and confused–but calling it “abuse” feels extreme and unsettling, a label for what happens to other people but not you. Yet you can’t shake the feeling: something’s not right.

In his debut book, researcher and advocate Wade Mullen introduces us to the groundbreaking world of impression management–the strategies that individuals and organizations utilize to gain power and cover up their wrongdoings. Mullen reveals a pattern that accompanies many types of abuse, almost as if abusers are somehow reading from the same playbook. If we can learn to decode these evil methods–if we can learn the language of abuse–we can help stop the cycle and make abusers less effective at accomplishing destruction in our lives.

Something’s Not Right will help you to identify and describe tactics that were previously unidentifiable and indescribable, and give you the language you need to move toward freedom and create a safer future for yourself and others.

We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis (in process)

In the throes of the #MeToo movement, with authority and compassion, Mary DeMuth draws on her personal experience and elevates the voices of survivors as she unpacks the history of the church’s response to sexual abuse in order to find a new way forward.

“Timely and necessary…This book is not only a warning. It is an opportunity. An opportunity to live out the gospel we so passionately proclaim. And it starts with listening.”–J.D. Greear, President of the Southern Baptist Convention

The Well-Armored Child: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse (in process)

Author Joelle Casteix has filled the need for an easy-to-read toolkit for parents when it comes to preventing childhood sexual abuse. When her own child was born, she was deluged with tomes that covered everything from breastfeeding to choosing the right college. But one book was noticeably absent. It’s the book that can help parents take action to prevent their child from becoming another statistic.

The Well-Armored Child gives parents the tools and strategies to understand how predators “groom” children, why many of our trusted institutions cover up abuse, and how to empower children without shame, fear, or inappropriate discussions of sex.

Written by Rachael Denhollander, recipient of Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year Award and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People (2018).

“Who is going to tell these little girls that what was done to them matters? That they are seen and valued, that they are not alone and they are not unprotected?”

Rachael Denhollander’s voice was heard around the world when she spoke out to end the most shocking USA gymnastics scandal in history.

The first victim to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who sexually abused hundreds of young athletes, Rachael now reveals her full story for the first time. How did Nassar get away with it for so long? How did Rachael and the other survivors finally stop him and bring him to justice? And how can we protect the vulnerable in our own families, churches, and communities?

What Is a Girl Worth? is the inspiring true story of Rachael’s journey from an idealistic young gymnast to a strong and determined woman who found the courage to raise her voice against evil, even when she thought the world might not listen. In this crucial cultural moment of #MeToo and #ChurchToo, this deeply personal and compelling narrative shines a spotlight on the physical and emotional impact of abuse, why so many survivors are reluctant to speak out, and what it means to be believed.

Why does narcissism seem to thrive in our churches?

We’ve seen the news stories. Maybe we ourselves have been hurt by a narcissistic church leader. But what is narcissism, really? And how does it infiltrate the church?

Chuck DeGroat has been counseling pastors with narcissistic personality disorder, as well as those wounded by narcissistic leaders and systems, for over twenty years.

He knows firsthand the devastation narcissism leaves in its wake and how insidious and painful it is. In When Narcissism Comes to Church, DeGroat takes a close look at narcissism, not only in ministry leaders but also in church systems. He offers compassion and hope for those affected by its destructive power and imparts wise counsel for churches looking to heal from its systemic effects.

DeGroat also offers hope for narcissists themselves–not by any shortcut, but by the long, slow road of genuine recovery through repentance and trust in the gospel of Jesus.

Abortion

To begin our series highlighting library resources addressing topics of crisis, we present a collection of books and podcasts on the topic of abortion. The descriptive text below is all from the publishers, edited for length. All of these titles are available through the North Country Library System, and most of these are on the shelf at the Potsdam Public Library.

Medical and Counseling Resources

Planned Parenthood Learning Resource Page

All-Options Hotline: All-Options has a free confidential hotline to discuss decisions about a pregnancy.

Abortions Welcome: Abortions Welcome has written and interactive resources help with decisions about pregnancy, including a compassionate clergy counseling line.

Reachout of St. Lawrence County: Reachout is a free crisis hotline that can help connect you with other community resources.

Non-fiction

As women’s reproductive rights are increasingly under attack, a minister and ethicist weighs in on the abortion debate, offering a stirring argument that “the best arbiter of a woman’s reproductive destiny is herself” (Cecile Richards, former President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America). Trust Women skillfully interweaves political analysis, sociology, ancient and modern philosophy, Christian tradition, and medical history, and grounds its analysis in the material reality of women’s lives and their decisions about sexuality, abortion, and child-bearing.

Our bodies, ourselves

Hailed by The New York Times as a “feminist classic,” and “America’s bestselling book on women’s health,” the comprehensive guide to all aspects of women’s health and sexuality, including menopause, birth control, childbirth, sexual health, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health and general well-being.

The girls who went away : the hidden history of women who surrendered children for adoption in the decades before Roe v. Wade

The astonishing untold history of the million and a half women who surrendered children for adoption due to enormous family and social pressure in the decades before Roe v. Wade.

In this deeply moving and myth-shattering work, Ann Fessler brings out into the open for the first time the hidden social history of adoption before Roe v. Wade – and its lasting legacy.

Few Supreme Court decisions have stirred up as much controversy, vitriolic debate, and even violence as Roe v. Wade in 1973. Four decades later, it remains a touchstone for the culture wars in the United States and a pivot upon which much of our politics turns.

This book details the case’s historical background; highlights Roe v. Wade’s core issues, essential personalities, and key precedents; tracks the case’s path through the courts; clarifies the jurisprudence behind the Court’s ruling in Roe; assesses the impact of the presidential elections of George W. Bush and Barack Obama along with the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and gauges the case’s impact on American society and subsequent challenges to it in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and Gonzales v. Carhart (2007).

Despite her famous pseudonym, no one knows the truth about ‘Jane Roe,’ Norma McCorvey (1947-2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1970 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent years with Norma, discovered her personal papers, a previously unseen trove, and witnessed her final moments.

Bad feminist : essays

A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched cultural observers of her generation

In these funny and insightful essays, Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Cosmic constitutional theory : why Americans are losing their inalienable right to self-governance

American constitutional law has undergone a transformation. Issues once left to the people have increasingly become the province of the courts. Subjects as diverse as abortion rights and firearms regulations, health care reform and counterterrorism efforts, not to mention a millennial presidential election, are more and more the domain of judges. Wilkinson argues they will slowly erode the role of representative institutions in America and leave our children bereft of democratic liberty.

The Choices we made : 25 women and men speak out about abortion

Every day in America, abortion providers and the women who need them are in danger. First published ten years ago, this collection of 25 powerful stories from contributors both famous and ordinary, privileged and poor, provides often harrowing insights into what happens when women are denied the right to choose. Testimonials from teenagers, college students, overloaded young mothers, and even a retired male Marine put a human face on one of this country’s most controversial issues and offer passionate arguments for access to legal and safe abortions.

Life’s work : from the trenches, a moral argument for choice

In this “vivid and companionable memoir of a remarkable life” (The New Yorker), an outspoken, Christian reproductive justice advocate and abortion provider reveals his personal and professional journeys in an effort to seize the moral high ground on the question of choice and reproductive justice. In Life’s Work, Dr. Willie Parker tells a deeply personal and thought-provoking narrative that illuminates the complex societal, political, religious, and personal realities of abortion in the United States from the unique perspective of someone who performs them and defends the right to do so every day.

My life on the road

Gloria Steinem–writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader–now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change.

When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road–by which I mean letting the road take you–changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories–in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.

Fiction

In this striking, enormously affecting novel, Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of two very different and yet intimately linked American families. Luther Dunphy is an ardent Evangelical who envisions himself as acting out God’s will when he assassinates an abortion provider in his small Ohio town while Augustus Voorhees, the idealistic but self-regarding doctor who is killed, leaves behind a wife and children scarred and embittered by grief.

In her moving, insightful portrait, Joyce Carol Oates fully inhabits the perspectives of two interwoven families whose destinies are defined by their warring convictions and squarely-but with great empathy-confronts an intractable, abiding rift in American society.

The handmaid’s tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

A spark of light : a novel

The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center–a women’s reproductive health services clinic–its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.

After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.

One of the most fearless writers of our time, Jodi Picoult tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation . . . and, hopefully, understanding.

The mothers : a novel

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance–and the subsequent cover-up–will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

Red clocks : a novel

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo.

Five women. One question. What is a woman for?

Red Clocks is at once a riveting drama, whose mysteries unfold with magnetic energy, and a shattering novel of ideas. In the vein of Margaret Atwood and Eileen Myles, Leni Zumas fearlessly explores the contours of female experience, evoking The Handmaid’s Tale for a new millennium. This is a story of resilience, transformation, and hope in tumultuous — even frightening — times.

Poor your soul

This vivid memoir tells of an unexpected pregnancy, ultimately welcomed, then threatened by birth defects that preclude life outside the womb. Far more than her personal story of abortion, Ptacin’s brutally honest account incorporates her own mother’s tragic loss of a child. 

When she woke

Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan’s provocative new novel, When She Woke, tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed–their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes–and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder.

In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.

Help Yourself

I hope that when you think about the library, you think about having fun; maybe nostalgic childhood memories of reading with a family member, discovering a great series to keep you entertained for a whole summer, or attending an inspiring workshop that sparks a new hobby. Maybe the library has been a place to escape to, a bright spot in an otherwise dark time, somewhere to be when you don’t know what to do with yourself.

A lot of what we do centers around entertainment, and recreational growth like learning crafts or outdoor skills, but what about when you’re experiencing a serious crisis that 350+ Crochet Tips will not mend? The Grumpy Gardener cannot dig you out of this one. What if you have nobody to confide in and have to help yourself? In this series I want to highlight some of the ways that the library can support you in times of crisis.

The library is a safe space, free of judgment. We welcome everyone, and celebrate diversity of every kind. Everyone who works at the library is here because we truly enjoy helping people. We’re also good at figuring things out, whether it’s how to use your ipad, how to sign up for healthcare, or where to find the forms to DIY your divorce.

Your privacy is protected at the library. Your parents, your spouse, your neighbor, your teachers, even the police, cannot access your library records without a court order. We actually can’t even tell you your own borrowing history because we do not keep that information, except for what’s currently checked out to you.

When you check out a book, a staff member will see what the book is, but we promise we don’t judge. Remember, WE bought all those books! We added them to the collection because we thought they should be here and that they should be checked out. Do you feel a little embarrassed buying tampons at the grocery store? I promise, the cashier doesn’t even think about it. Are you a grown woman reading YA fiction and comic books? Well, so are we. And as for the serious topics, our staff members have collectively been through a wide variety of hard times and have found some of the best help in books. We want that for you, too. Despite that, if you need an extra measure of anonymity, place your books on hold and then email info@potsdamlibrary.org and we will work out a solution that suits your needs.

Over the course of several posts, we’re going to highlight topics such as addiction, homelessness, poverty, discrimination, incarceration, child abuse, domestic abuse/violence, spiritual abuse, grief, depression and mental illness, suicide, medical issues, and legal issues. We’ll recommend a few books on those topics, and where applicable, we will link you to articles, podcasts, community services, etc.

In closing, here is a list of call numbers for “difficult topics” in our non-fiction section. Adult non-fiction is located upstairs.

Abortion ~ 363.46
Alzheimer’s ~ 616.831
Cancer ~ 616.994
HIV / AIDS ~ 616.9792
Infertility – 616.692 or 618.39
Miscarriage ~ 618.392
Pregnancy ~ 618.2
Puberty ~ 613.043 or 612.66
Sexual Health ~ 613 or 306.7
Bipolar Disorder ~ 616.895
Bullying ~ 303.69
Child Abuse ~ 362.76
Depression ~ 616.8527
Domestic Violence ~ 362.82
Loss of a Child ~ 155.9
Loss of a Parent ~ 306.874 or 155.9
Mental Illness ~ 616.89
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ~ 616.8521
Sexual Abuse ~ 362.7
Substance Abuse ~ 362.29 or 616.86
Suicide ~ 362.28
Adoption ~ 362.734
Bankruptcy ~ 346.7307
Child Custody ~ 343.7301
Divorce ~ 306.89 or 346.7
Estate Planning and Living Will ~ 346.7305
Foreclosure ~ 346.73
Hospice Care ~ 362.1
Personal Finance ~ 332

Podcast Studio

We have everything you need to make a professional-quality sound recording in our new Podcast Studio! Book a session by emailing tech@potsdamlibrary.org. The studio is ideal for recording podcasts with two hosts.

We also have a top-notch video blogging set-up including access to professional lighting, backdrops, a green screen, and a teleprompter. Come on in and record a make-up tutorial or unbox your new Lego set on camera.

The equipment below was selected for our studio after careful research and consultation with recording professionals and purchased with a grant from the Northern New York Library Network for which we are very grateful.

  • Set of two Electro-Voice RE20 Mics
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface
  • Sony MDR7506 MDR-7506 Headphones
  • MacBook Pro with Logic and Final Cut (and iMovie and Garage Band for the casual user)
  • iPad
  • Canon EOS 70D with camera-mounted external mic
  • Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera
  • Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder
  • Green Screen
  • Teleprompter
  • and lots of foam panels

Shelfies

“Shelfies”  are small caches of FREE books located in 60 different businesses around St. Lawrence County.

Don’t forget to share a selfie with your shelfie! #shelfieselfie #potpublibrary

If you’d like to donate your gently used books to the Shelfie program, please email us.

Seed Lending Library

Growing and Sharing

This seed library exists to help people learn to garden and save seeds, and participate in growing and sharing seeds, food, and knowledge.

Check Out Seeds

Peruse our seed book and select up to 5 varieties you’d like to grow. Bring a variety card with you to the front desk and a staff member will give you a packet of seeds.

Classes and Events

Check the library’s calendar, Facebook page, or email newsletter to find out about classes on gardening, and events like seed and plant swaps.

Preserving Our Heritage

Saving seed used to be a type of knowledge that was passed down through generations. This knowledge and production has largely been taken over by seed companies and many varieties have been lost forever.  Seed saving is a skill that provides a community with a resilience and food security. It is a way to push against the loss of genetic diversity within our food system, a way to connect with our community and often our cultural heritage.

Adopt a Seed

Choose a variety according to your level of skill at seed saving and sign up to be a “seed steward” for that variety so we can ensure a supply for lending next year. To sign up, put your name next to your variety and take a seed return form with you. When you bring in your saved seeds, be sure to bring along this form.

“Seed stewards” who successfully save and return 1 variety of seed get to choose 2 new varieties to add to the seed library for the next year!  A Seed Savers Exchange catalog will be out for perusal February through March along with wish list for your selections.

Difficulty Ratings

Green for beginner – For those who are new to gardening and seed saving, these are mostly self-pollinating varieties with minimal required isolation distances.

Yellow for intermediate – For individuals with some prior experience gardening, varieties may require specific isolation distances or may cross with other plants that belong to the same species.

Red for advanced – These varieties are difficult to obtain true seed from or require very specific practices for growing plants to produce seed.

Not Quite Ready to Save Seeds?

Not ready to save seeds but still want to grow something? You can still make a difference by donating to help cover costs.

Museum Passes

Discover the natural wonders and history of the Adirondacks or explore a shipwreck without getting wet! Our Museum Passes are here!

We have passes to The Wild Center, the Adirondack Experience (formerly the Adirondack Museum) in Blue Mountain Lake and The Maritime Museum in Lake Champlain.

  • The Wild Center Pass admits 2 adults at a 50% discount ($10) and free admission for all children age 17 & under.
  • The ADK Pass provides a 50% discount on up to 4 adults ($10) OR 2 adults for $10 & all children under ages 6-17 for $6 each. Children 5 & under are free.
  • Our pass to the Maritime Museum provides free admission for an entire family.

Passes are on a first-come, first-served basis and may be borrowed for up to 3 days at no charge with your library card.

Graphic Novels

Located in the front of the library, you can’t miss this section bursting with action and color with dynamic stories for all ages, from comics to sophisticated and complex novels, and an assortment of manga series.

Graphic Novels are not a genre; they are a format, and that format has a little bit of something for everyone. Are there classics that you’ve thought about tackling only to be daunted by prose from another era? Add pictures to stories like the Odyssey or Beowulf and these tales practically read themselves.

For that retro comic feel, we’ve got titles like Dick Tracy that have had multiple issues bound into a larger novel-like format.

Based on Japanese graphic novels, our manga section includes Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, Fruits Basket and many more. One of the most popular titles, Naruto, started out as a serial comic in the monthly Shonen Jump, but was so popular it was turned into a manga-style graphic novel and then an anime TV series.

Owly is a fabulous series for our youngest readers, written without words, but with simple symbols that beginning readers will recognize. Symbols combined with great illustrations create a story that is accessible to all.