Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New England library--in a barn--seeks benefactor to finance its opening

Gilmanton, New Hampshire, population 3,060, has built and stocked a library in recent years, having raised $675K in grants and donations to do so. Now, according to a story by Abby Goodnough in today's New York Times, Gilmanton, "a rural town of stone walls [and] old farms" is looking for funds that will permit it to open the facility. The library association there is seeking to attract those funds in the form of a $1 million endowment that will pay the salary of a part-time librarian and other basic costs for many years. If no benefactor is found, the association will seek about $75K a year from the town. Such funding is opposed by many in this tax-averse, no income-tax state, where property taxes are already high. Currently, the town spends $3,100/year on three "minilibraries," which are open only seasonally.

Among the many endearing aspects of this tale is that the library building is a post-and-beam barn that was moved from 70 miles away and re-built in Gilmanton to serve this purpose. One of the association's members explains:
“We had hired an architect who designed us a brick building,” Ms. Bedard said, “but it just didn’t fit in the field. We wanted a building that respected our rural landscape, because that’s kind of important here in New England.”

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