Library in Shelburne begins new chapter

Published: Sep. 14, 2019 at 8:35 PM EDT
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A project 11 years in the making that at times felt like a fairy tale, has finally become a reality. Saturday, the community in Shelburne opened the doors to the new Pierson Library, and renovated 1927 Town Hall.

Over the last decade, the library has attracted 40 percent more patrons, and the number of cardholders has gone up nearly 25 percent.

In November 2017, the town passed a $6.5 million bond vote to build a new library which would accommodate its popularity. Officials hope the project will encourage more Vermonters to look at their local libraries in a different light.

"I love reading and I really have a connection to it, since I've been coming here my whole life," said 11-year-old Charlie Schramm of Shelburne.

That's twice a week Charlie Schramm has visited the Pierson Library for the last 11 years. So, he wanted to help write the first chapter of its future. And like many Shelburne residents he's giving the new space positive reviews.

"It's a lot bigger and it's really designed really nicely," said Schramm.

"When I first saw it going up, being modern, I was, you know, a little curious, but now that I'm in it and it's bright, it's spacious... really they did a beautiful job," said Mary Turnbaugh of Shelburne.

And Andrea Murray of Vermont Integrated Architecture said, "We are designing our future history for this community."

"The new portion of the building is 100 percent electric, and so thereby when we put solar on the roof it can be, in the future, 100 percent renewably powered, which is pretty exciting," adds Megan Nedzinski also of Vermont Integrated Architecture.

A structure Shelburne residents anticipate will be a staple in the community for the next 100 years and beyond.

"If you look at the outside structure, you're not going to have to paint it, it's going to last forever. Fifty years from now they might be doing some touchup, but it's all been brought up to high, high standards the new stuff. And the old building has been restored to the point where it's now an energy efficient building, whereas before, it was just a building in need of care," said Mark Neagley of Neagley & Chase Construction Company.

"I think that they've gone above and beyond what anybody expected in terms of the planning, the design, and the execution. To be able to open it is a dream come true for me, as a librarian," said Kevin Unrath, Pierson Library director.

A project proving local libraries can be more than just a building to hold books.

"They are places for the community to come together, to meet other people who live in town," said Unrath.

And Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin says other Vermont communities could take a page out of Shelburne's book.

"That's the signature of Vermont, that we value learning and that libraries are open to everybody," said Kunin, "So I think it's an achievement for Shelburne and it's an achievement for Vermont."

Within the next month, builders plan to install solar panels on the building's roof, saving the town over half a million dollars in electrical bills over the next 25 years.