Lincoln Library earns accolades
LINCOLN — After what’s been a tough year for the Lincoln Library, good news arrived at the little mountain outpost earlier this month: The Lincoln Library was one of 258 libraries nationwide lauded by Library Journal as “star” libraries.
The library earned the honor, which is based on statistics about circulation, programs, and library use, for the second year in a row. This year, just three other Vermont libraries — the Sherburne Library in Killington, the Craftsbury Public Library, and the South Hero Community Library — also earned the Library Journal recognition.
According to Lincoln Library director Debi Gray, the news was a bright spot amid economic woes plaguing the town library.
“We’ve had a tough financial year,” Gray said. “We’re trying really hard just to make ends meet.”
The town of Lincoln funds roughly one-third of the library’s budget, and the library is responsible for drumming up the other two-thirds with donations and income from its endowment. Unlike many other town libraries in the region, the Lincoln Library owns its building, which means additional operating costs ranging from plowing snow in the winter to making repairs to the building fall on the institution’s shoulders.
“This year, everything was down,” Gray said. “Donations, the endowment, everything.”
In fact, the budget has been so tight that the library has had to stop purchasing new books. A grant came through recently that let the librarian purchase a few new young adult’s and children’s books, but every new adult book to trickle in to the stacks this year has come from individual donations.
“It’s been a tough year,” Gray said. “To not be able to buy books is tough.”
Gray said she is hopeful that the award will draw more Lincoln residents’ attention to just how important she thinks the library is for the town. The award also could be useful in grant applications to offset the library’s operating costs.
The library’s board of directors has also been trying to raise Lincoln residents’ awareness about the importance of the library; the board, and Gray, are hoping that residents will voice their support for the institution when it comes time to vote on the town’s appropriations to the library come Town Meeting Day.
Though Gray said the economic downturn has put a crunch on the library’s budget, she pointed out that the library’s services are in more demand during tough times. She mentioned that several residents had used the library’s computers to type and send resumes for their job search. After one job-hunter landed a position, Gray and the assistant librarian felt a rush of joy because they’d “gone through it with him.”
Meanwhile, the library is continuing to offer as many events as possible for library users, including regular story hours for children and discussions and classes for adults. Events range from a recent talk given by an Israeli soldier to Pilates and tai chi classes offered in the library space.
“For this town, it’s an important thing,” Gray said. “We’re the place the 4-H comes to hold their meetings. We’re the place you go to find information. Especially in a place like Lincoln that doesn’t have a town center at all, I think we’re extremely important to people.”