Brooks Memorial Library

Friends of Brooks Memorial Library

Meeting Minutes 8/19/2020

The meeting was conducted via GoToMeeting and was called to order at 4:35pm.

Participating were Joyce Marcel, Connie Kimball, Betsy Wagenknecht, John Komar, Sue Dyer, Kate Wylie, Cindy Hutcheson, Karen Duggan, Starr LaTronica and Courtney Carey for the library, and visitor Bob Oeser.

The secretary’s report was approved.

The treasury balance as of July 31, 2020 was $44,323.94. The report was accepted and will be filed for audit. Connie presented the YTD comparison budget as well.

Karen is taking a year’s leave, so we will need a recording secretary. Please let Joyce know if you are interested.

The Friends will be the official sponsor of the First Wednesdays program this year. Joyce made the decision without board approval due to time constraints, but no one objected to this.

The Finance Committee suggested we consider participating in “Giving Tuesday” on Starr will check into this and work with Bob Oeser to set it up if it is a possibility.

We agreed to continue to fund and use the Friends’ website. We also agreed that we need to keep the website up to date by posting timely news and information. Joyce will check on the website usage metrics with Barb Ackerman.

We voted to support the Vermont Humanities Council First Wednesdays program with a donation of $2500. Starr shared that the first programs will be virtual, with the hope of going live as soon as feasible.

It is noted that as part of our budget, our fundraising is now in two branches: corporate (such as sponsorships) and individual.

As we are not actively fundraising, and do not know if we can have a winter book sale, we agreed to try a brown bag book sale fundraiser. Betsy and Cindy will work on the details for using the books we already have donated and will ask for help as needed.

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Libraries go virtual

… with a human touch

By Joyce Marcel, president of the Friends
Photo: Jeff Potter
Reprinted with permission of The Commons (

When Gov. Phil Scott issued his emergency orders that shut down most public spaces last month, the Agency of Commerce stated that libraries were among those services “not considered critical to public health and safety or economic and national security.”

And amid the global pandemic, 183 Vermont libraries closed their doors.

If that sounds like a lot of libraries and a lot of doors, it’s helpful to know that the state ranks first in the nation in the number of libraries per capita.

“Libraries are the shared resources of the community,” said Starr LaTronica, the director of Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro. “This is what the community thinks is of value, whether they’re physical items or online resources. The community pays for the staff, which is the greatest resource. And the library is there for everyone.”

“There are very few institutions left where that is true. That’s what libraries do,” she added. “We find a need in the community and try to fill it or facilitate it.”

But librarians being librarians, closing the doors wasn’t the end of it.

In fact, it was only the beginning, certainly in Windham County. The quarantine just moved library services online.

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Life in the Time of Corona

With all due apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this just seemed like an appropriate title for a library newsletter.

Things have moved both fast and slow lately. Obviously things seem to be slow at the library, but behind the scenes it has been anything but.

Early on, before the library closed for good, the staff was still offering front-door pick-up service, but returns became untenable because of the need to wipe down and sequester books and limited space to hold them, and it became too risky.

The decision to close for good was reluctantly accepted by the staff, but with the governor’s executive order for “Stay Home, Stay Safe” and the clarification that library materials are not considered essential (as hard as that is to believe!), the decision was taken out of Starr LaTronica’s hands.

Everyone is still working from home on projects and preparing as best they can for reopening. Staff have had their library extensions forwarded to their homes so they can still answer calls.

The Children’s Librarians are assisting with resources for homeschooling. They are also getting ready for the Summer Reading Program and preparing pieces for online components in case they are needed.

Jeanne Walsh is still fielding reference questions and working on a database of agencies and organizations that can help connect individuals with resources they may need to access.

Courtney Carey has helped to set up a site for people to get library cards online and is posting lots of links and websites on the library and the Friends Facebook pages as well as the library website. She and Jeanne are also ordering new downloadable audio books.

Matt Wojcik was instrumental in helping all the Town departments set up their systems to work from home. He is also working with Starr, Jeanne and Chloe Liotta-Jones on the new library website.

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  • Libraries are for everyone.

Our Mission

The mission of the Friends is to support the Brooks Library through advocacy, public relations, and fundraising in order to provide the highest quality library services to the community.

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Friends of Brooks Memorial Library

224 Main Street
Brattleboro, VT  05301