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By Washington County Senator Bill Doyle
Congratulations to Joslin Memorial Library, built in 1913, on their 100th anniversary. Here are just a few words about the period when the library was built. The year was an era of change and optimism that society could be improved. The leaders who wanted to move the country in that direction were two former presidents: Republican Theodore Roosevelt and Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Both believed in women's right to vote, conservation of forest and water resources, improvement in the production of food, concern about the growth of large corporations and greater citizen participation. Joslin Library is a progressive institution and was built during a progressive time in our history.
This week I received an email from Martha Reid, our state librarian, who said she was sorry not to be able to attend but wrote this about the library: "The Joslin Memorial Library offers e-books and audio books for downloading, access to electronic subscription information databases in the Vermont online library, access to over 500 online classes and information for genealogists. All for free."
Libraries are about lifelong learning – from picture books for young children to books and other resources for our eldest citizens. The library is often the place where a child first encounters books, and having a parent read to a child sets that child on the path of success in school – and in life.
Libraries offer citizens a broad scope of information and ideas. The library is a place where we can explore ideas and perhaps new ways of thinking. "It is the most democratic of our public institutions and is essential for a free and open society."
Joslin Library provides free access to the internet with public computer work stations and Wi-Fi. This is an increasingly important part of the library's services especially for those citizens who normally would not have access to the internet. This is important because it gives individuals an opportunity to apply for jobs, connect with family and friends, receive health information and gain access to governmental services such as unemployment applications and information on many other programs. The role of Joslin Library, as is true for all libraries, is to help people find employment and other resources they need to live a productive life.
Joslin Library has a collection of 31 magazine subscriptions, print collections of over 9,000, Vermont history material and many books by Vermont authors. In 2012, the library had over 14,000 print and electronic materials, audiobooks, inter-library loans and computer use. Over 1,000 people attended programs at the library which offered 21 programs for adults and 15 for children including weekly story time. Also in 2012, over 1,400 people were using public library computers and Wi-Fi access. It seems very appropriate that the mascot for the library is a golden retriever.
The library offers a variety of services and programs such as reading discussion groups in the winter, wireless access to the internet, public computers and instruction and a Joslin Library Facebook page.
The children's collection includes Dorothy Canfield Fisher books for grades 4 to 8, Green Mountain Book Award books for grades 9 to 12 and a summer reading program. Programs for the children include preschool story hour on Monday mornings at 10 a.m., monthly afterschool club for grades 3 to 6, and a summer reading program for older youngsters.
Joslin Library provides important community space for meetings of neighbors and friends for a variety of organizations and for formal and informal discussions. As the digital resources increase and book collections decrease, the library space becomes an important center for learning. At the library tourists can easily access their email and contact friends electronically while visiting Waitsfield.
Speaking before 300 people in Waitsfield in 1913, George Joslin, whose family donated the money for the library, would have been very pleased with the remarkable changes that have taken place at Joslin Library and would have taken satisfaction that a new library was built in Waitsfield during a progressive time in our history.
George Joslin would also have been most pleased that the mascot of the new library was named the golden retriever.