Built in 1860, the Winhall Memorial Library located in Bondville, Vermont was once a little red clapboard schoolhouse. When a new school was built in the 1950s, the Mountain Home Grange bought the building, but the town reserved the right to buy it back if the grange vacated, which occurred a decade or so later. The library was granted full use of the space, and the big wooden sign for the grange is preserved inside the library now, placed high atop the tall bookshelves.
An active ski town, the population served by the library is varied, as patrons come from the local area and surrounding towns. Seasonal patrons also frequent Winhall. Hired in June of 2016, Dawn Santos is the current librarian, and is in the process of inventorying and automating the collection of approximately 6000 books. Additional materials include an audiobook collection, DVDs, and magazines. Events at the library are frequent such as book discussions, community luncheons, artist receptions, a cookbook club, movie night, and the Armchair Traveler program.
Director Santos indicates the biggest challenges libraries have faced over the last decade is the threat to relevancy. She says, “With the influx of information online, a decline in patronage was measurable. But with the need for services, the library has stayed at the forefront of technological advances. Libraries have evolved into community centers, where patrons can attend community luncheons, watch movies, meet their fellow neighbors, or be introduced to their local politicians.” Her answer to meeting these challenges is to create a dynamic library, that will continue to evolve.
SinC authors will be happy to hear that mystery readers tend to be the most loyal to their genre. Author and reader organizations like SinCNE can help libraries stay up to date with and in touch with local writers that may otherwise fall under the radar as opposed to the heavy hitters. Patrons love a sense of place in their novels; therefore, reading books by Archer Mayor for example, makes them feel at home.
“Reading trends have changed in the sense that publishers try to find the next, biggest and greatest, but always seem to keep that search within a bubble.” Says Santos. “A great example would be the Gone Girl trend. After that book broke records, the unreliable narrator was the hit flavor. This trend of comparing or encouraging cookie cutters books tends to curb the desire for new voices or differing styles. That is where a librarian steps in to ensure the variety in his or her collection. We will always have to buy the big hits, but it is sometimes a challenge to ensure we don’t overlook the unicorns.”
Ms. Santos uses a variety of methods to choose books for the library, perusing book review journals, taking requests from patrons, watching the bestseller lists, and sometimes simply trusting her intuition. She feels it is important to know the likes and dislikes of the Winhall’s patronage as well as following the trends to keep up to date.
A monthly book club meets at the library. Title criteria varies; when the group was first formed three-and-a-half years ago, books were chosen based on the opportunity to obtain full sets. Now, Director Santos chooses the books that will appeal to a large swath of discussion group members, while also having the ability to spark thought-provoking discussions.
Winhall Library patrons are open to new authors, and as someone who loves to read new voices in literature, Director Santos concurs. She is apt to buy new authors for our collection. Says Ms Santos, “There will always be the die hard few who will only read books by their favorite authors; but on the whole, our patrons are game to step into a new adventure.”
To learn more about Winhall Memorial Library visit their website or check out their Facebook page.