Addressing the Athenaeum decision
To the Editor:
Bill Marshall's well-intentioned, multi-pronged proposal to offset projected deficits at the Athenaeum, while commendable, omitted the most obvious remedy to increase revenue: a larger endowment fund capable of generating operating funds in bad times as well as good. Growing the endowment would not be easy, but would guarantee the future viability of the Athenaeum. It is also entirely consistent with the board's responsibilities to ensure adequate resources for the operations of the institution.
St. Johnsbury is a small town with a number of extraordinary cultural and educational organizations all in need of support. A small number of well-meaning, sincere, and concerned citizens generously volunteer time, skill and money to support these nationally and internationally recognized organizations. It is obvious that when so few contribute to much, their capacity if limited, and that a broader base of support, outside the St. Johnsbury area, needs to be developed. This should involve individuals, corporations, and other organizations with similar interests and the means to contribute. Support for the Athenaeum should reflect its national stature.
While both Mr. Marshall and Mr. Steil have conjured their library of the future, the responsibility for this vision would reside with the most knowledgeable individuals: those who work in the field, who understand the capacity of and the demands on the institution, and who, most regrettably, have been so abruptly terminated.
West Barnet, Vt.