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History of the Cutler Memorial Library

 

The Cutler Memorial Library, a non-profit organization, began in 1937 when Arthur and Amy Cutler moved their recently-made-obsolete horse barn across the road and converted it into a shingled 1.5 story building with an apartment upstairs and a library downstairs.  It was presented as a gift to the town in memory of Arthur’s mother and father, Herman E. and Emma Gilman Cutler. The town was asked to contribute support for the cost of books, and to pay the librarian. The income from the apartment was applied toward operating expenses, and the Cutlers also provided a modest trust, the interest of which provided for upkeep over more than 50 years, before it was expended towards the cost of replacing the roof in the 1990s.  In 1993, due to lack of funds, the trustees considered closing the library and allowing the building to revert to the Cutler estate, but the Friends of the Library group came to the rescue and raised nearly $1600 by means of a phone-a-thon. A new board took responsibility for the library that year.  In 2012, the board voted to increase its size from five to seven seats, and by 2013 four new board members had been recruited to collaborate with the existing members, some of whom had served on the board for 20 years by then. Approximately 3800 people used the Cutler Memorial Library in 2012. 

 

When the library opened in 1937, it was open 2 days a week and loaned out 4,278 books.  The annual budget of $100 for the first few years was $100.  In 2012, the library conducted a community-wide strategic planning process.  Based on feedback from that process, it went from 23 to 27 hours per week of service, with increased weekend and evening hours to accommodate work-week schedules. In 2012, items from the collection (including books, movies, magazines, equipment and games for adults, children and the visually impaired) circulated 5028 times.  While borrowing of physical content is less in recent years with the increased popularity of digital media, many visitors use the library to access the internet or attend meetings, workshops and events or simply to have a quiet place to read or study.  In 2012, people visited the library more than 3800 times.  19 patrons downloaded more than 200 digital titles (audio books and e-books) in 2012, the second year the subscription service, “Listen Up, Vermont!” has been offered through the Cutler Memorial Library. Fiber Optic (wireless) internet is schedule to be installed in the spring of 2013. In 2013, an appropriation request of $33,000 (an increase of $8000 from the previous year) was approved by town meeting voters unanimously after a brief discussion.

 

The Cutler Memorial Library was not the first library in Plainfield, just the first library building. There has been a collection of shared books in Plainfield since 1871, when the Ladies’ Circulating Library was formed, with members paying $1 each.  Those books were kept at 3 different private residences for the first sixty years. In 1913, the town voted to accept Vermont’s Public Library law of 1894; five trustees were elected and $25 appropriated from the town coffers. But the collection was not housed in a public building until the Plainfield Little Theatre group, whose playhouse occupied the old Congregational Church (now our Town Hall), offered the library free space in the basement in 1932.  The first trustees to serve on the Cutler Memorial Library board were: Jerome Johnson, Emma R. Collins, Eva Bartlett, Russell E. Nims and Harland K. Bartlett. In 2015, the members are: Bev Thomas, Bob Rosenfeld, Marcy Shaffer-Hale' and Linda Bartlett.

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