To The Daily Sun,
Roger Amsden's recent article in The Sun spoke of three libraries in the Town of Gilmanton. In some sense that is true. Each "library" has its own special place in the history and character of the town.
Unlike most towns, Gilmanton historically had not one but three village centers — Gilmanton Corners, Gilmanton Iron Works, and Lower Gilmanton. Still today these centers form separate entities, separated by as much as seven miles from one another. At a time when travel between them on foot, or by horse and buggy, was a significant outing, each village had its own amenities: schools, churches, shops, post office, and indeed libraries.
The tiny library in Gilmanton Corners, housed in a former cobbler shop, is an important feature in the Corners village, both historically and aesthetically. The Gilmanton Iron Works Library, built after the 1915 fire that wiped out much of the village, is also an essential feature of the present day village, along with the church, Old Town Hall, and other buildings that survived the fire or were built shortly thereafter. It has the advantage of being within walking distance of many homes in the Iron Works village, but can be open only in the summer. (Lower Gilmanton, not too long ago, also had its own library, housed in a private home.) Neither of the little village libraries host such modern amenities as plumbing, nor could they be expanded to serve the entire population of the town with the needs of the 21st century.
The third library is, of course, the Gilmanton Year-Round Library, sited on Route 140 across from the Gilmanton School. Built entirely with private or foundation contributions, the Year-Round Library was designed to provide the people of Gilmanton with the services of a modern library — ranging from books and periodicals, inter-library loan and public access computers. In addition it provides a place for community gatherings and events, special activities such as twice-weekly story time for pre-schoolers and after school events for school children, informational presentations for adults, and much more.
Until the Year-Round Library opened, Gilmanton had no library that could meet the criteria of public library established in state statute. RSA 202-A:2 I. "Public library'' shall mean every library which receives regular financial support, at least annually, from public or private sources and which provides regular and currently useful library service to the public without charge.
The town recognizes and is grateful for the ongoing effort of volunteers who maintain and operate the little village libraries with small annual contributions from Town coffers. Each is an essential feature of its historic community. Their function is important, but should not be confused with the vital services required of a public library in the 21st century and provided by the Year-Round Library, available year-round and 5 days a week to all of the Town's inhabitants, young and old.
- Category: Letters
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