Swanton Public Library | Swanton, Vermont
Seven miles south of the Canadian border sits Swanton Public Library. The town has a quirky history, inlcuding being gifted a pair of swans by Queen Elizabeth II. The library, overlooking one of the busiest intersections in town, sports two vastly different entrances. The historic building's front, designed by Montreal architects Saxe & Archibald, and contracted by town resident Clarence K. Prouty, sports imposing Roman columns and stout Grecian urns, tall wooden doors, and Vermont "Red Swanton" Marble - a marble with its own share of scandal in 2006. A newer entrance, in contrast, was completed in 1998.
Director Caleb Rupp is enigmatic and expressive, with expansive dreams to match. Swanton Library is a cup brimming with potential and overflowing with ideas, valuing quirky programming and staff who are willing to - Trek reference incoming - Make It So. Classes range from Japanese bookbinding, led by Director Rupp, to financial classes, parenting classes, and the occasional WWI presentation.
The Art Nook features local artists in partnership with the Swanton Arts Council. A tarot group, an anxiety support group, and a writing group all meet at the library, creating a mosaic of community needs and wants.
When asked what patrons check out, Director Rupp cheekily expresses, "Well, what do you know about Amish Romance?" Swanton Library: home of niche genre fiction, a chicken owning workshop, and the occasional anime club. Producing a tumble of traditional Vermont and global interests, there's always something happening at the library.
Swanton Library is the kind of place that would co-host a Duck Derby and did. Events and fundraisers are a fertile ground of "We can do it!" ideas instead of "Should we?" hesitance - spawning a plethora of groups, events, and antics meant to engage, entertain, and ultimately benefit the community at large. And, with a nod towards economic access, Swanton Library doesn't have late fines. When speaking about about Swanton Library's future and patronage Rupp smartly asks, "Who doesn't come to the table here?" seeking to service current patrons but also to entice new ones. Swanton Library has an eye to the future, hoping to engage people who don't already use the library. Click here to access the monthly newsletter for events.
Upstairs, a large Children's area replete with open windows, sunlight streaming in.
Amid watercolors, toys and books was volunteer Jean, former children's librarian in St. Alban's, volunteering on the anniversary of her late husband's death.
Jean stated there was no better place to be that day than Swanton Library, seeing as they had first met at one - literally tripping and falling before her future husband, the joke of their marriage being he swept her off her feet at the library.
Ordinary people dedicated to ordinary causes that become, inexplicably, a very large imprint on the lives around them.
Libraries are a nexus of history and a tangle of all that is human. Alas, there's the daunting task of updating infrastructure and the scrabble for funding. After all, historical buildings look nice, but require a different sort of maintenance than a modern structure. Donate here.
Getting Social with Swanton.
Many thanks to staff, volunteers, and helping hands that work hard to keep Swanton Library lively.
Stop by if you're in the area - and even if you aren't, make a trip soon.
And all the King's Daughters...
Well, you kept scrolling. Here be history, ahoy!
The force behind the library's history is now largely obscured by time and age: the King's Daughters.
Locally known as the "Whatsoever Circle" between 1890 and 1898 and the "Golden Rule Circle" between 1898 and 1916, the Daughters established a community reading room on Merchants Row in 1890. Aside from the "library" this is where the Daughters operated their primary volunteer aid programs for the economically disadvantaged.
The Daughters raised $4,000 by 1916 and construction began for the library. The land it was built on came from Daughters member Ascha Bullard Cushman who had signed over the property in 1912. Eighty-six years later a new addition was built. In 1992, the Daughters signed the building and grounds over to the town. Present at the signing was Daughters trustee Barbara Winters, a major donor to the library's updated entrance in 1998.
To this day the 2nd floor of the library's original section has a dedicated space for the Daughters use. What once was a sizable organization dwindled by the dawn of the 21st Century. As recent as 1993 records show a group holding 10 meetings, 6 teas, and 4 luncheons annually, but the room today is largely stilled with the passing of time and members.
More information on the Daughters (and the library for that matter) can be found at Swanton Library - downstairs lives the Historical Society. The generosity of various donors have kept the library running over generations. The portrait of one, Vera Klein, perches atop a bookshelf in the library, making mention of her $75,000 bequest.
Time to bid adieu, but if you're looking to join a knitting circle, Dragon Day, Harry Potter event, book club, or heck, even a how-to workshop on owning poultry, check out the gloriously quirky Swanton Library.