The library trustees have been considering moving the library out of the building they share with Readsboro Central School, after new security measures placed restrictions on its use and hours of operation. Library trustee chair Mary Angus said that the trustees are open to all possibilities, including keeping the library at its current location and moving. The RHRC believes the Bullock Building would be a perfect new home for the town’s bookshelves.
“We see this as an opportunity for us to have some dialogue,” said Sue Bailey, chair of the RHRC. “We needed a starting point to all share in what are the needs of the library, what do you see its future being, and how it can provide more service to the community with more space.”
Tom Veto, construction coordinator for the RHRC, proposed that the library move into a 1,200-square-foot space on the first floor, an area larger than the current library space of 1,026 square feet. Veto said this would take up less than half of the first floor of the building and would not prevent community events from happening as well on that floor of the building. “I’m only making a proposal,” said Veto. “We can begin to build from there, but we can provide anything the library needs. The 1,200 square feet is just a proposal.”
The RHRC is currently working on multiple avenues for restoration funding, including USDA grants to cover the costs of installing heating and insulation for the basement and first floor of the building. They are also in talks with the Vermont Arts Council to obtain a build-out loan or grant, should the library be interested in moving into the building. Veto said the RHRC is also preparing an areawide pledge drive with the goal of raising $200,000 for work on the building that would not be covered by grants. This work includes installation of new windows, work on the building façade, and roofing repairs.
Paul Bruhn from the Preservation Trust said that the trust’s interest in the proposal came out of the security problems the library was having. The community library is different from others in that it can only be accessed from inside the school. Three doors connect the library to a classroom, the school’s main lobby, and the main classroom hub, and fire code does not allow any of the doors to be locked. After security concerns arose from the Vermont School Board of Insurance, the library was forced to change its hours until the school day was over.
“There are a lot of adults in the community not comfortable about coming here (to the library) because of the restrictions,” said Angus. “I think people in the community could see it moved, but there are a lot of people who like where it is now.” The trustees and librarian Cyndi Candiloro said that there was a downside in pulling out of their current location. While a school library would be left behind, a good quality library would be taken away from the school, and certain types of library funding would also disappear, funding for the library that the school benefits from.
“The only way I would feel good about it is if the school was able to take trips to the library,” said trustee Molly Frost. “If the school is not OK intermingling here in this building, will the library be OK with students walking to the library and intermingling there?”
Bruhn said the library not being allowed to fulfill its purpose was a detriment to the community. “Not having the public use the library during day hours that the public would want to use it is a sad circumstance, “ said Bruhn. “It’s a dilemma and a difficult balancing act for you guys, and there is no reason why a new library couldn’t have programs for the kids there as well, or why a school library couldn’t be left behind.”
Angus said the trustees would need more information as to the costs of the proposal, and Bruhn and Bailey both said the RHRC would come up with figures including utilities, library equipment, as well as renters’ fees, insurance, and taxes. Preservation Trust member Megan Paul suggested the RHRC meet with Efficiency Vermont as well to help project these costs.
Bailey also said the Bullock Building would be connected to fiber-optic Internet service in the near future.
“We bought the Bullock Building with the intent to create a place where people can come socially and culturally in this community. Seeing the library in that space would be a boon to the building.”