Library History — 1953 to 1999

1953 – The hand rail was installed on the front steps and a book return slot was made in the front door. Rental books income totaled $56.58.

1956 – Miss Carrie E. Damon retired as librarian after 36 years as director and a total of 45 years with the library. Library closed Saturday evenings.

late 1950s – Oil heat and fluorescent lights were installed.

1958 – The library’s name was changed from Middlebury Public Library to Ilsley Library. On exhibit were caps of Vermont Nursing Schools.

1960 – Out of town residents paid $1 annually for borrowing privileges. The book budget was $801.88; fuel cost $762.60.

1961 – Rabbit Run by John Updike was taken from the stacks and only loaned at the discretion of the librarian. 9 books were borrowed from other libraries for Middlebury readers. Interlibrary loans were limited to non-fiction. A shelf for young adults was designated.

1962 – New florescent lights installed at a cost of $1,104. Little Me was removed from the collection “as being in questionable taste for a public library…” The Women’s Forum of Middlebury College held story telling hours. After much discussion, a telephone was installed with an unlisted, measured-call rate of $9 a month. “This has proved most helpful, and not the least recently when Mrs. Lash found herself locked inside these pearly gates.” MUHS faculty were surveyed to learn if IPL was meeting the research requirements of the students. The answer was apparently yes, but science, political science, and history were considered weak. Book budget dropped to $763.

1963 – “Miss Brown (the librarian) was asked if children were allowed in the stacks, and she said that she encouraged children to use the children’s room, although on occasion for a specific purpose she had personally conducted a child to the stacks.” With only one full-time employee, the library sought ways to make the library more “self serving” – in the catalog, labeling, and arrangement of books.

1964 – A rental service for new books was begun. A series of morning coffee hours was started. One lecture was entitled “Why Read Modern Drama?”

1965 – A teletype machine for requesting book loans from the Vermont Department of Libraries was installed. The summer reading program was expanded to include children in grades two through nine.

1966 – Centennial Year of the Ladies’ Library Association. A panel discussion on “The Past, Present, and Future of the Library” was moderated by author William Hazlett Upson. Speakers were Joseph L. Wheeler of Benson, former director of Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD, John R. McKenna, librarian of the Middlebury College Library, and Mrs. Elena Horton, executive secretary of the Vermont Free Public Library Board. Mr. Wheeler said that in the light of current standards the library needed “more money, more books, and more space.” The Middlebury Woman’s Club launched the Friends of the Library with 148 charter members and annual dues of $1.00. First year officers included Dr. Stephen Freeman, chairman, Mrs. Murray Hoyt, Mrs. LeGrande Wood, and Mrs. A.F. Gollnick. Phonograph recordings were added through a “gift from Columbia Record Co. of 30 well-selected records. …the collection was greeted with enthusiasm.” Special registration was required. 300 books were added.

1967 – Low funding was of concern. While the collection size was adequate, a large proportion was out-dated or in poor condition. The per capita funding was half the amount recommended nationally for minimum library services. Telephone reference service began.

1968 – The Middlebury Chapter of the AAUW initiated a Saturday morning story hour program for children ages four through seven. A 16 mm projector (sound-motion picture) and screen were purchased by the Friends. Statistics for 1968: circulation 19,215 hours/week 30.5 Population 2,022 Grand list $104,359 Annual income $8,877 income per capita $1.78. Mr. Russell Sholes spoke on “Rehabilitation and Corrections.” Problems with the catalog were addressed through a partial inventory and “cross- referencing.” The board was concerned about the tight space limitations and discussed co- operation (e.g. joint book buying by Middlebury and East Middlebury), and reciprocal borrowers cards with neighboring towns.

1969 – Book expenditures were cut. A display case was purchased by the Friends.

1970 – 42% of town residents were registered. The fee for out-of-town residents was raised to $2.00. Municipal parking lot constructed behind the library.

1971 – $43.20 was received from the Governor’s Commission on Crime Control and Prevention to purchase materials on drugs and drug abuse. The meeting room was named in honor of Jessica Stewart Swift. Reference service was acknowledged to be “below standard.” 809 books were added, of which 300 were donations. The monthly newsletter Ilsley Inklings began. Weekly childrens film programs started.

1972 – “With the adoption of the Charter of the Town of Middlebury, the merger of the Ladies’ Library Association and the Library Trustees took effect, providing a more efficient governing structure, consistent with the State Law.” All assests of the Association were transferred to the Town. 4,654 children attended film programs.

1973 – A benefit concert, “An Afternoon in May,” was held at the Congregational Church. The library leased a photocopier. Mrs. Perley Perkins was hostess for the social hour that followed the Friend’s program in January. Stephen Freeman was Program chair for the Friends. Jessica Swift donated carpet for the children’s area.

1974 – “Effective May 1, 1974, the entire library staff, including high school aides came under Federal Minimum Wage Laws, with serious effects on library budget.” The library charged 10 cents per page to photocopy. Annual circulation was 39,483. 1,072 books were purchased and 498 books were donated to the collection.

1975 – Youth services were moved to the basement. The Vocational Center built the picture book bins. Mrs. Margaret Martin spoke on “The Joys of being a Selectwoman.”

1976 – Art prints were added for loan.

1977 – A $150,000 federal grant was obtained to build the addition on the south side which provided handicapped access to the building A production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer was staged at MUHS as a benefit. Among the participants were Marshall Eddy (cast), Nancy Wright (publicity), Martha Dier (costumes), and Bruce Baker (choreography). Trustees were Mrs. John McKenne, John Rothrock, the Rev. John Smith, Mrs. Joseph W.A. Whitehorne III, and Mrs. Vincent Mills. A microfilm reader was purchased by the Friends with the co-operation of the Sheldon Museum and the Addison Independent.

1978 – A film projection screen was donated by the VFW Auxiliary Post 7823. The copper mobile in the main lobby was donated by artist Robert Colwell of Cornwall. All issues of the Addison Independent were now available on microfilm.

1980 – Stable book budget and high inflation meant fewer new books. Two ceiling fans and window quilts were installed in the main lobby where the two closets were converted to a study room and microfilm storage.

1982 – A 50 cent charge for borrowing a book from another library was begun.

1983 – Statistics: circulation 85,560, hours/week 40, material expenditure $19,573, tax support per capita $10.21. Delivery to shut-ins began by Ted and Olive Colwell.

1984 – First library computer, a Commodore 64, was purchased by an anonymous donor for the children’s room.

1985 – First director with a graduate library degree was hired, Sally Reed. 3,985 registered borrowers.An Apple II-E computer was donated by the Friends.

1986 – Voters approved 476-135 a $680,000 bond issue to construct an addition. A Gaylord automatic charging machine was purchased.

1987 – Selectboard voted in October not to award the building contract. They believed that voters did not realize the extent of the indebtedness which would be required.By a vote of 514-375, voters subsequently approved the $680,000 for adding 8,200 sq. ft. to the existing 7,600 sq. ft. building. Sally Reed, director, said the new space should remain viable until 2020.

1989 – The “new” library re-opened January 9. Middlebury Community Television (MCTV) moved into the 3rd floor. First annual Addison County Grandparent’s Award for outstanding juvenile picture book voted by area seniors.

1990 – Author William Sleator spoke in the library. 158 children participated in the summer reading program. Morning hours were added to bring schedule to what we have today. With the new addition, loans jumped 24% over 1989.

1992 – 57 local organizations used the meeting room.

1993 – Work on linking the library with the automated system of Starr Library was begun.

1997 – The library connected graphically to the Internet. Unabridged books on tape were added. The library’s web page was posted.

1999 – The library observed the 75th anniversary of its current building.