From its modest beginnings 125 years ago in the millinery shop of a mill and farming village to its present incarnation in a new library built in 1995 and doubled in size in 2002 to serve residents of the Town of Hartford, including the Quechee Lakes community, the Library has been integral to community life. For 84 years, the Library was housed in the 450 square feet in a charming brick building on Main Street, and for 40 of those years, Pauline Cole was the librarian. Since that time, the Town of Hartford, population 10,000, has become one of the fastest growing towns in the Upper Valley. It continues to have a village-based library system with libraries in Quechee, Wilder, Hartford Village and West Hartford. Quechee Library has grown to become the largest library with a circulation each year of over 35,000, a sophisticated computer network for library administration and for the public, and a 6000 square foot facility.
Beginning with a $100,000 federal Library Services and Technology Grant in 1994, Quechee Library has been supported by grants, including the Vermont Public Library Incentive Grants, and by the generous contributions of time and funds from scores of supporters who have developed fundraising events and answered appeals. Solar panels were added through a grant from Sunup Foundation. The library has completed three long range plans, “Envisioning Excellence” with the Vermont Department of Libraries.
Typical of the community support the Quechee Library has received are the remarkable gardens begun in 1995 by Theo Alexander, which are now maintained by the Quechee Garden Club. Today, much of the maintenance of the building is done by volunteers. The professional library staff is assisted by other volunteers, including trustees and Friends, in many of the ongoing functions of a busy community center and library.
1885: Founding of Quechee Library Association
1895: Founding of Wilder Club and Library
1907: Building of first Quechee Library, 465 Sq feet
1994: Circulation 4.500 items
1995: $100,000 federal grant as part of $450,000 building campaign for new library at 1957 Main Street.
1997: Wilder Club and Library contracts with Quechee and Gates Library for administration of library services. After Gates closes (as a small incorporated library it could not maintain its compromised building and had a limited circulation).
1999: QuecheeWilder Libraries automated, among the first Vermont libraries to do so.
2002: Addition of lift and children’s room and upstairs room, downstairs bathroom, through private fundraising and Freeman Foundation Grant.
2004: Vermont Cultural Facilities grant to Wilder Club and Library to add storm windows and install hot water to all sinks.
2004: Vermont Arts Council grant: Changing Nature of Land and Photography. This is perhaps one of our favorite grants. Working with Northlight Digital and Collamer we selected several of his prints from the 1950s in Hartford to be scanned, enhanced and printed by Northlight. Many exhibits have grown from that beginning, including the mural that is behind the Selectboard. There was also a wonderful panel discussion at the library with Collamer—who is perhaps remembered by us almost as fondly for his statement at one of the many townwide library meetings that if he still had his bicycle he’d be happy to ride it to Quechee on a regular basis. Instead, we delivered books to him in WRJ and keep him in our minds today for his ever-curious, wide ranging mind and wit as well as his marvelous photography.
2007: Wilder Club & Library wins Vermont Historic Preservation grant to repair and restore windows and restore the plaster facade over the porch.
2007: Wilder Club & Library wins Vermont Cultural Facilities grant to support the construction and installation of an accessible platform lift. $90,000 project was completed with the assistance of other foundation grants, business and individual support to make the historic building accessible without impacting its brick exterior.
2011: Wilder Club & Library wins Vermont Cultural Facilities Grant for installation of new front steps with new granite treads.
2012 : Migration to VOKAL and koha for a completely integrated townwide system.
2014: Addition of OneCard….along with renewed emphasis by VT Dept. of Libraries for ILLs, courier system, and the sharing statewide of resources. OneCard is an agreement among 13 Upper Valley libraries that patrons from each other’s towns may borrow directly from member libraries.
2017: Vermont Cultural Facilities Grant to Wilder Club and Library for the installation of an energy-efficient air conditioning system in its auditorium.
2015-2019: Building stewardship: New flooring at Quechee required two campaigns, and was followed by window and clapboard replacement.
2020-2021: During the state of emergency March-June 2021 requiring libraries to be closed, we maintained services as much as possible with pick up bins at both libraries, virtual programming, and a boost in electronic content. As soon as permitted, we were among the very few libraries to follow CDC safety protocols and reopen to the public in June 2020. This was possible by the addition of filtration units and construction of plexiglass screens along with other precautions.
2022: Quechee Library joined the Sustainable Libraries Initiative and will continue to strive toward the goal of being environmentally sound, economically feasible and socially equitable.