The Davies Memorial Library in Waterford is quite unique.
For starters, it’s the last public “honor system” library in Vermont, which allows the building to be open 66 hours a week with just a part-time library director; the building’s door has an automatic lock that allows for extra hours without staffing.
This also allowed the library to be fully open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with a few extra hygiene and social distancing precautions.
“It’s a pretty special setup that we have,” said library director Kandis Barrett on Thursday. “People were very grateful and thankful that we stayed open for the resources, for somewhere to retreat to for their work or another space to come into and check out a book.”
Now, Barrett and the library’s dedicated board of trustees are excited to be back to in-person programming for kids and adults, community groups and, well, fundraising.
Another point that makes the library unique is that it is the only one in the area not fully funded by the town. While the town appropriates around $13,000 each year, fundraisers held by the trustees, including the wildly popular Fall Foliage Festival held at the Rabbit Hill Inn, generally make up for the rest of the approximately $30,000 needed to operate the library.
But while the building was able to remain open during the pandemic, fundraising events couldn’t occur, save for the small annual book sale.
While Barrett has applied for numerous grants, received a few, and is still hard at work on others, they aren’t enough. She recently learned that a nationwide pandemic relief grant that would have amounted to $30,000 was not approved; only 15% of those who applied received the grant.
For now, Barrett and the library’s dedicated trustees are looking forward to their block party “friend-raiser” to be held tonight from 5 p.m. until dark at the Waterford Fire Department. Library trustee Joe Healy said that it will likely be their one big fundraiser for 2021 as the Fall Foliage Fest does not look likely due to restaurants needing their own recovery.
“[The friend-raiser] is really a way to give back to the community, bringing us all together and having a night of celebration to just be with one another,” he said.
The entrance fee to the block party is $5 for adults and free for children. The event will feature music by Barnet’s acclaimed singer-songwriter, high schooler Siri Jolliffee, a DJ, and cash food and bar drinks from Vermont Foodie Stand and the Mooselook Diner.
Attendees are encouraged to park at the town transfer station.
Tim Yarrow, who joined the library’s board of trustees just after moving to Waterford from Hyde Park with his family in 2018, said the Davies’ first “friend-raiser” block party, held in 2019, was a great community event and he is expecting the same this evening.
“Food, adult beverages, music, hopefully, community and gathering and storytelling…” he said. “I hope folks are going to come out of their houses and be done with the pandemic and let their hair down a little.”
The library also plans to ask town residents to increase its appropriation next year at the town’s annual meeting.
“The library has grown from what it used to be,” said Barrett. “COVID was just kind of an eye-opener. We don’t want to surprise everyone about this, so we’re starting to talk about it and make the select board and townspeople aware of the need.”
The library’s funding and needed repairs to the building, which also hosts the town offices, was the subject of a special select board meeting on June 3.
The Davies is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
More information can be found at daviesmemoriallibrary.org.