Statement regarding the Library’s appropriation request from the Library Board of Trustees to the voters of Peacham: As we prepare for this year’s alternative town meeting, we wish to take this time to thank you for the generous appropriation request granted last year. The increase to $26,000 has made a difference in our operational sustainability and we deeply appreciate the confidence you showed last year in our staff, programming, and community engagement efforts. In further illustration of our appreciation, in late 2020 we updated our library bylaws to change our membership structure to include all registered voters of Peacham, rather than only those paying membership dues to the library. This means that we are placing power in your hands to vote to elect our trustees, officers, and more at our annual meeting each July. This additional layer of transparency, our open board meetings, and our practice of electing one trustee at Town Meeting are all important ways to give you a voice in the library’s operations.
This year, we request the same appropriation amount of $26,000, and want to further clarify our use of these funds. Particularly during the pandemic, our appropriation from the town was a vital source of funding to cover our operating expenses in the absence of some of the regular income that we see through program-based donations and more. Throughout the pandemic, our Director has spent countless hours keeping on top of health guidelines, planning and executing alternative services & programs, and fulfilling special requests related to the pandemic on top of the usual library work. Our appropriation supports her, and all of our staff, during this difficult time, while helping to keep the lights on. Looking ahead, our appropriation request this year will continue to do the same, while also helping us plan for an eventual return to regular services as the pandemic eases. Our appropriation request represents an ongoing investment on the part of Peacham’s voters in the library’s central place in Peacham’s social, educational, and cultural life.
We welcome any questions prior to town meeting day and we will have a representative available at the Town Meeting Information Session on Saturday 2/27 at 10am (hosted on Zoom) or can be contacted through board President Gillian Sewake: firstname.lastname@example.org or 592-3060.
Director’s Library Report for 2020
What is more important in a library than anything else – than everything else – is the fact that it exists. – Archibald MacLeish
Last year Peacham Library celebrated 210 years of continuing service to the community. We marked this milestone by finding new and creative ways to connect to the community through the months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We started out the year doing our usual things: hosting in-person programs such as 3 Winter Coffee House Concerts, Tim McKay’s Scotland presentation, Robert Van Vranken’s Nordic Skiing (as a part of Winter Carnival), Soup and Stories family programs, a new Gardening Group, and Nanine Beard’s Gallery Reception. We offered our regular programs including weekly Coffee Hour, Family Movie Nights, Readers’ Delight, Tai Chi, Knitters and Puzzlers. We provided meeting space for community groups like AWIP, Peacham Energy Committee, Peacham Cemetery Committee, Peacham Select Board, PFD #1, Peacham Community Housing, On Guard Group, and the Collaborator’s Group.
In mid-March we closed our doors for the health and safety of our community and staff. When Gov. Scott issued the “Stay Home. Stay Safe” mandate we continued to offer limited services. We shared “Bring Spring” coloring pages with the community and our windows became an outward facing gallery, featuring artwork by our Saturday Librarian, Jenny Roy. The town lent us a picnic table for our front lawn as a place for folks to access our 24/7 (no password) wifi connection. Later as the weather got warmer we added new benches and some donated Adirondack chairs turning our front lawn into the community’s “living room”. A donation of a subscription to the Caledonian Record provided access to local news for everyone. Our porch now features a community chalk board for messages of hope and encouragement.
As time went on we began to “re-open”in new ways, starting with an invitation to meet via Zoom for Coffee Hour and Readers’ Delight. Nanine Beard’s show in the Gilmore Gallery continued in an online format. We offered one-on-one practice Zoom sessions, to help patrons familiarize themselves with this new program.
We began offering Porchside Pick-Up of books and movies, and now this service averages 40-50 requests per month. In August we opened for in-person browsing by appointment one day per week. We increased the selection and availability of our digital collection. We added Kanopy, a streaming movie service. We made copies, printed documents, answered reference questions and offered tech assistance by phone and email.
Beginning with the Internet Privacy Toolkit program, we began offering more programs virtually, and continued with “Archiving the Present for the Future” from Karen Lewis of the Peacham Historical Association, Charlie Browne on “Birds’ Social Distancing Behaviors”, “Coping Conversations” with Judith Markey, Kathleen Monroe, author of Legends of Barnet”, Candidate Forums for those seeking election to the Cabot-Danville-Peacham state representative seat, health presentations on Ticks and Respiratory Health, and – most importantly – set up Zoom visits with Santa Claus!
Throughout the summer we offered Story Walks on the Firehouse Green. In collaboration with the Peacham Historical Association we offer the “Pandemics of Peacham” Quest, taking questers throughout the village, learning about Peacham’s history as they went.
In place of our usual Summer Reading Program we offered weekly craft activity bags, which were available at the library and also at the free lunch site at the school. We offered activity bags in September for “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and in December for “Santa, Crafts and Latkes”. December’s bags included potatoes (donated by Marty’s 1st Stop) for do-it-yourself latkes. In total, over 250 activity bags were shared with the community last year.
We received a loan through the Payroll Protection Program and qualified for repayment forgiveness by meeting the requirements of using the loan to meet payroll and utility costs. Through a VT Department of Public Service program, we had a “hot spot” installed increasing the range of our wifi signal. With grants from the Vermont Department of Libraries and Concept2 in Morrisville, along with additional funding from the PTF we brought Kurt Valenta to Peacham School for 3 days as a Naturalist-in Residence for all the classes, as well as a morning in-service workshop for the teachers.
Though our doors have been closed, the library has remained an active part of the community. We continue to look for new ways to bring the community together. Thank you for your support at Town Meeting and throughout the year.
Susan Smolinsky, Director