Springfield Library receives ARSL grant


SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – The Springfield Town Library has been awarded $8580 by the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) to increase its role as an active and intentional participant in building community resilience. The library’s mission includes serving as the heart of the town, connecting people, ideas, and endeavors of all kinds in order to transform lives. The ARSL Sustainable & Resilient New England Libraries Grant will allow the library to provide more of these vital services to the community.

What does it mean to be a sustainable and resilient library? It doesn’t mean the library stays the same as it has always been – it means keeping the important core values of the library while changing what and how things are done. Being sustainable means meeting the community members’ present and future needs, paying attention to the impact of the library’s work on the community, and ensuring the library does all it can to help its residents be more resilient.

Many Springfield families struggle and the library is ready to help. The town’s poverty rate is 21% (compared to 10% statewide) and one-third of residents are food insecure. When basic needs aren’t met, it’s difficult to reach for educational opportunities. The ARSL grant will allow the library to provide more food for the community and for the Springfield Family Center by adding hydroponics inside the library for year-round growth. With the help of Woodbury Florists, its outdoor gardens will be redesigned to include pollinators, vegetables, and fruit bushes or dwarf trees. To ensure everyone can enjoy the library’s side garden, a gate will be installed from the ramp to improve its accessibility.

Gardening partners affiliated with local social service agencies will be invited to help with the planting and garden maintenance. To provide additional support to those in need, the grant will fund Springfield Food Co-op gift cards or container vegetable plants for the gardening partners to take home in appreciation of their services.

The library’s essential services have always included literacy. The ARSL grant will fund three additional “little libraries” to be added to those created by the Rotary Club and auctioned off by the Friends of Springfield Town Library last year. Springfield Housing Authority residents and Family Center clients will be invited to submit designs to be judged by the Springfield Art Gym. The contest winners will be provided with paint supplies and other materials to decorate their masterpieces. These ‘take-a-book’ boxes will provide 24/7 access to reading materials at the Family Center, Mountain View Apartments, and the Westview Terrace.

In conjunction with the ARSL grant, the library will pursue Sustainable Libraries Initiative Certification in 2023. This two-year certification program, endorsed by the American Library Association, provides a tested, structured path forward to increase the library’s commitment to environmental stewardship, economic feasibility, and social equity. Through these three lenses, the library staff and trustees will evaluate library practices and policies.

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) builds strong communities through professional development and elevating the impact of rural and small libraries. ARSL recognizes the uniqueness of small and rural libraries and is committed to providing an environment that encourages excellence within this community of practice, supporting their goals of service and speaking on behalf of this important constituency. Since one in three public libraries in the U.S. serves a population of fewer than 2,500 people.

ARSL believes in the value of rural and small libraries and strives to create resources and services that address national, state, and local priorities for libraries situated in rural communities. The Springfield Town Library thanks ARSL for this grant, which was made possible through the generosity of a regional partner foundation.

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