Vermont is purported to have the greatest number of public libraries per capita in the United States — approximately 175 of them. As a member of the Vermont 251 Club, I have made it my mission to visit all of them.
I’m sure there was a time when I didn’t know what the 251 Club was but now I can’t imagine life without it. Started in 1954, the club challenges its members to adventure through the 251 towns & cities of our great state. 251ers are not about just passing through places and checking names off a list. We stop by, meet folks, shop around, dine, and generally try to feel out what makes each community unique.
Everyone has some sort of mission, something that makes them feel as though they can cross a town off the list. Back when the club was started, 251ers visited every post office and got a stamp. Now people choose their own adventure. My best road trip buddy eats in every town. A fellow librarian has to visit with the whole family. I take pictures of libraries. In towns without libraries I photograph whatever suits me. Some towns are so small that there is nothing with the town name on it save the border marker on the county route.
Without intent, I am documenting every public library in the state. Whenever I tell folks about my “251ing The Library” project, they say I need to share it. So now I am. This is something I do for fun, so I didn’t really have the forethought to write down something about every town or take detailed notes. I just remember my favorites. For instance, did you know that both Richford and Bellows Falls have the best thrift store shopping in the state? Are you a fan of taxidermy? I am, and most libraries have at least a handful of taxidermied critters. The most impressive collection I’ve found so far is at the library & museum in Westfield. It kept me busy for over an hour.
I post my pictures online in a public photo album called 251 Club Evidence, organized in the order I visited the towns. A large chunk of pictures are also collected in my Vermonavigation album from when I circumnavigated the state last summer with the aforementioned road buddy. If you want to see where I have been, check out my personal map on the 251 Club website. Found a picture of your library in my albums? If you like it and want to use it, feel free.
VLA News Editor/Editorial Committee Chair
Systems & Tech Services Librarian, Goddard College