A major renovation is underway at the Joslin Memorial Library in Waitsfield aimed at bringing the historic structure into this century and cementing its role as a center of the community.

The project is the result of a lot of work on the part of community volunteers and consultants who undertook the task of re-imagining the library and then raising the funds to make it happen.

What’s exciting about the project is not just the physical upgrades that the work will bring to the historic building – which are very exciting. It’s exciting to witness the strong resurgence of interest in all of the local libraries in recent years and to watch these community centers become places that are about more than just books.

To quote the Joslin Library’s new director Katie Bourque-Johnson, “Libraries level the playing field.” They are places where people go for books, to be sure. But they’re also places where people gather to learn, to hear presentations, to dabble in maker spaces. They are places where people can go to learn how to use software and computers and iPads.

They are places where many of our neighbors without internet access go to stay connected, to research and learn and touch base with friends. A 21st-century library is going to be very different in terms of opportunities and experiences it offers, yet very much the same in how it levels the playing field.

Historically, libraries have made access to information and works of fiction and periodicals available to the general public, freely and with equal access to all. None of that changes with a 21st-century library except that there are now vast realms of information and technology and learning possible.

Rather than falling by the way side, libraries have taken on new and more important roles in our communities and that’s exciting. What we’re seeing at our local libraries, and with this renovation at the Joslin Library, is a perfect combination of synergy, magic, pixie dust and hard work.

We’re fortunate to have all of our libraries as community assets and we all share the excitement of watching this work commence at the Joslin Library.