Sad about the Athenaeum

To the Editor:

I grew up in East St. Johnsbury, always grateful for the treasure that is the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. I am saddened to learn of its financial difficulties.

I have read the articles, the letters to the editor, and visited the websites. The trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to operate in the black and to not to spend endowment principal. They hold the Athenaeum in trust for the community, and they deserve credit for making difficult choices. However, their staff restructuring is only one step in ensuring the Athenaeum's survival.

The Athenaeum is more than a library. Its art collection is a cultural resource and the trustees are acknowledging its national significance by hiring a curator. What are the other objectives that will bring the Athenaeum to its goal of financial sustainability? Increasing staff hours devoted to fundraising and making rare books available on the internet won't be enough. The Athenaeum needs a broader base of funding.


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