1.1 The Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont, USA
Grace Worcester Greene
Children’s Services Consultant, Vermont Department of Libraries
Description of library and community
The Kellogg-Hubbard Library is located in Montpelier, the capital of the state of Vermont. Vermont is the eighth smallest state in the country in area, and the forty-ninth in population, having only 623,050 people as of the 2005 census estimate. Montpelier is the smallest state capital in the country, with a population of only about 8,000 people. In addition to Montpelier, the library serves five surrounding towns: East Montpelier, Berlin, Worcester, Calais and Middlesex. The population of the combined towns is approximately 17,700. In addition to the residents of the area, state employees who work in Montpelier use the library, and during tourist seasons (in Vermont there are three: fall to see the foliage; winter for skiing and other snow sports, and summers to enjoy the lakes and mountains) many people use the library’s computers to check their email.
Built in 1895, the building is a beautiful light colored edifice constructed from Vermont granite and situated on the capital’s Main Street. The building is elegant within as well as without, sporting a gracious lobby, ornate woodwork and a large reading room. In 1975 there was an addition built on the back; the most recent addition and renovation were completed in 2001. The main impetus for this last addition was a flood in 1992 caused by an ice jam in the nearby Winooski River. The children’s room, which was then located in the basement, suffered extensive damage and many volumes were lost.
The Kellogg Hubbard Library has a collection of 73,356 materials and there are 14,306 registered users. They average 4 new patrons per day. Since the library added the addition in 2001, the circulation has steadily increased. The latest figure (for the year 2006) is 292,590 (an average of 1,015 items per day). This is a 69% increase from 2000 when the total circulation was a mere 172,643. The biggest increase in circulation is for young adult materials: in 2001 the library circulated 814 items, as compared to 2006’s total of 15,995 items circulated– an increase of 1,965%!
The Kellogg-Hubbard Library has an unusual management style for a small rural library. It is run by two directors, both of whom report directly to the Board of Trustees and are paid the same salary. The team includes the Library Director, Hilari Farrington, who is in charge of collections and services, and the Executive Director, Martin Hahn, whose domain is financial. This is a new arrangement, having started in the summer of 2005. Before that, the library director was responsible for all aspects of running the library. However, she found that more and more of her time was spent in fundraising, and she was able to devote only a small amount of time to traditional library services. In addition to the two directors, there are twelve staff members at the library (of whom only five are full time), six pages (student assistants) and ninety-six volunteers. Only two staff members have an MLS degree: the library director and a part time children’s cataloger.
Other statistics for 2006
|Internet Internet Use||Total||38,974|
|Children’s Programs||# of programs||310|
|# of attendees||8,852|
|Adult Programs||# of programs||92|
|# of attendees||3,442|
Budget and fundraising
Unlike most other states, Vermont has no state funding; so local libraries must rely on town funding and private donations. The Kellogg-Hubbard raises the highest percentage of its operating budget from local charitable donations of any public library in Vermont.
The primary job of the Executive Director is to raise funds. Under his direction the library has begun a capital campaign to raise three million dollars for their endowment. As of the end of 2006 they had raised about a third of their goal. Fundraising is accomplished through direct appeals, special events, raffles and book sales, and grant writing.
|Endowment Investment Distribution|
|City of Montpelier and towns|
|Salaries and Benefits|
|Heat and utilities|
|Repairs and Maintenance|
|Adult books and programs|
|Children’s Books and Programs|
|General and admin.|
|Tech and Communications|
Advocacy and Public Relations
The Kellogg-Hubbard library uses several methods to communicate with the public about its programs and services. They maintain a website which has basic information about the library and news about upcoming programs http://www.kellogghubbard.lib.vt.us/. They post to a community blog, Montpelier Matters http://montpelier-vt.blogspot.com/, and they have recently begun their own blog: kellogghubbard.blogspot.com. At least monthly they send a newsletter via email to all who have requested it. Every month there are two paper newsletters available in the library: one for adults, and one about children’s activities. About twice per year they mail a newsletter to all cardholders. They send articles to the local newspaper, “The Times Argus,” and to a free community newspaper, “The World,” on a regular basis. Twice a month the library’s program director has a 15-minute talk with a reporter on a local radio station. They discuss upcoming programs, new additions to the collection and special events. One of the most important jobs of the executive director is to maintain good relationships with the six towns the library serves, keeping them informed of the library’s activities and needs and preparing them for the annual budget requests.
Attracting new users
The library has made a commitment to expand its user population. They have made a concerted effort to attract more men by improving their collections of books on car repair, building, house repair, sports, hunting and fishing, fantasy, small business, and other traditionally male interests. They have greatly increased their holdings of books on tape and books on CD, which has drawn in many new patrons.
In the past few years a number of refugee families have moved to the area, and the library has helped to ease their transition to a new life by purchasing books in their native languages.
Recently the library has worked hard to reach out to young adults (young people ages 12-18). They have set aside a separate area for the teens, and have greatly increased the number of books they purchase for this age. This has been very successful, as shown by the fact mentioned above that circulation has jumped 1,956% over the past five years.
Through a federal grant secured through the state library agency, the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, in conjunction with the local school system which serves five of the surrounding towns, was able to buy and stock a bookmobile. The bookmobile went to stops in all six towns of the library’s service area, specifically trying to reach nontraditional users such as home childcare providers, the elderly and those in low-income areas. Unfortunately, the grant money has run out, and they are no longer able to keep the bookmobile on the road. However, using the money formerly allocated to the salary of the bookmobile coordinator, they have recently hired a part time outreach coordinator. She is arranging for delivery to childcare homes and centers, and is working with other agencies and organizations in the area to reach as many people as possible.
Like all efficiently run organizations, the Kellogg-Hubbard Library has learned that they cannot work in a vacuum, and in order to best serve their customers, to maximize resources and to get the word out to as many people as possible, they must collaborate with as many other agencies and organizations as they can. The state library agency, the Vermont Department of Libraries, works with Kellogg-Hubbard to provide them materials for summer reading programs, access to databases, technical and cataloguing support and training. The Vermont Humanities Council provides funding and guidance for cultural enrichment programs.
On a local level, Kellogg-Hubbard works with the schools in many ways including cooperative programming, class visits to the public library and exhibits of school children’s art in the library. The city of Montpelier has several major celebrations throughout the year, and the library participates in all of them. On New Year’s Eve the city puts on a family celebration of performances, crafts and a parade. The library is one of the sites for the performances, hosting at least one author program. For Independence Day (July 4) the city throws a big party, and the library contributes by having a lawn party featuring music and crafts. In addition, they work with the Montpelier Senior Citizens Center to bring book discussions to its members; with the local music school to host student concerts; with local authors and artists to bring programs to the library and with the Montpelier-based New England Culinary Institute to provide cooking programs for children.
Programming is a strength of Kellogg-Hubbard. For children there are three preschool story times every week, with an average attendance of 60 (parents and children combined).
Children at a craft program at the Kellogg-Hubbard
There are arts and crafts programs for school aged children, holiday celebrations and a performer (such as a puppeteer, magician or storyteller) at least once per month. Every kindergarten class from the entire service area makes a visit to the library in the spring for a tour and to sign up for library cards. During school vacations (in Vermont there are week long vacations in December, February and April) the library hosts programs to give the children something to do and to encourage them to go to the library. During the summer the library runs a summer reading program, using the theme and materials provided by the state library agency. They exhibit children’s artwork and host an opening art reception for parents and families. There are no regular programs for young adults, and no designated young adult librarian, but the children’s staff occasionally does a program, such as a celebration of Teen Read Week (a program of the American Library Association).
For adults, there are book discussion programs, author and illustrator talks, informational presentations, academic lectures, yoga classes and films. Always open to new ideas, and excellent at discovering resource people in the community, the program director arranges several excellent programs per month.
Challenges the library faces
Funding and staffing
Ask almost any American public library what their biggest challenges are, and they will tell you funding and staffing. The Kellogg-Hubbard library is a victim of its own success. Since they built their addition six years ago, their circulation has increased 74%, but staffing has increased only minimally. The town is now contributing more money than ever, but it is not enough to keep up with the demands on the library’s collections and services. It is because of these huge financial challenges that the library decided to hire an executive director a year and a half ago.
Another ongoing problem that many American public libraries, including the Kellogg-Hubbard, face is adolescents (11-14 year olds) who use the library as a place to gather after school and wait for a ride. This particular group of kids has no interest in using any of the library’s resources, but just needs a place to talk to friends and use up some energy. They are not interested in after school programs or having a club type room; they just want to talk and fool around. This has caused problems because some of the children are very rude and use foul language. They also block entrances and stairways with their backpacks and their bodies. Not only is this a safety issue, but other patrons have felt uncomfortable or threatened. The Kellogg-Hubbard is working with the Montpelier police to fashion a solution for all. To this end the library has become less tolerant of violations of their code of conduct, and, for real troublemakers they have issued no trespass orders.
Like librarians everywhere, the Kellogg-Hubbard staff struggles to keep up with changing materials formats. They have changed their buying from tapes to CDs, and from videos to DVDs. Now they are looking at downloadable books and movies, hoping to keep ahead of the demand.
Child reading with book character, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Kellogg-Hubbard
There will always be challenges to running a public library, but the Kellogg-Hubbard Library exemplifies all that is good about American libraries: a well trained and informed staff, a good collection, a responsive management, excellent programs and loyal customers. The citizens of Montpelier and the surrounding towns are indeed fortunate to have such a gem in their midst.