September 20, 2019

The ‘timeless grace’ of Vermont’s libraries

Williston project results in benefit calendar

Aug. 25, 2011

By Adam White

Observer Staff

Paula Higa and her daughter Sophia pose with a photo of the aftermath of the flood that struck the Lincoln Library in 1998. Williston photographer Andy Duback captured the image of the mother and daughter for a special calendar going on sale to benefit Vermont’s libraries. (Photo by Andy Duback)

It was the kind of picture that told a story, and in this case, it was a sad one: townspeople plucking books out of the mud after a flood destroyed the Lincoln Library in 1998, a heart-wrenching repeat of a similar disaster 60 years before.

But with the push of a shutter-release button, Williston photographer Andy Duback helped bring that story full-circle to a happy ending, showing two Lincoln residents holding the aforementioned photo in front of the rebuilt library in their hometown. The resulting image is one of 14 that will comprise a special Vermont Library Association calendar, currently being pre-sold across the state.

The calendar project was conceived by Marcy Kass, a graphic designer and trustee of the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library in Williston. Kass enlisted the help of Duback, writer Kathy Stamper and library director Marti Fiske, and the initial funds to get the endeavor off the ground came via a loan from the Friends of the Dorothy Ailing Memorial Library.

“The idea came out of a workshop with some fellow trustees in Randolph last fall,” Kass said. “I had done specific community-minded projects before, and thought that this could bring a lot of cool stuff to people’s attention. [Fiske] is the one who suggested 14 months, one for each county in Vermont.”

The calendars will be sold across the state, at libraries that will each get to keep all profits beyond the $8.50 cost per unit. Fiske said that sale prices will likely range from $15 to $20, at the discretion of each library.

The Dorothy Alling Memorial Library is not one of the 14 buildings featured in the calendar, as Fiske – a past president of the VLA – wanted to avoid any conflict of interest.

“I didn’t feel it was appropriate to use my office to promote our library,” Fiske said.

The Brownell Library in neighboring Essex Junction will provide the calendar’s image for the month of March. Fiske said efforts were made to photograph the individual libraries during the season in which they are featured within the calendar.

Kass sees Duback’s photos as having added a truly artistic quality to the project.

“He has a way of framing a picture that gives it a monumental quality, a sort of timeless grace,” Kass said. “He has a gift, for capturing both the places and the people he photographs, that definitely goes beyond just a pretty picture.”

Stamper researched interesting history and facts about each library, and incorporated them into text that accompanies Duback’s photos throughout the calendar.

“[Stamper] did some great research, and not just compiling data,” Kass said. “She was able to get a lot of beautiful quotes from people as well. One in particular that stands out came from the head librarian at the George Peabody Library in Post Mills; he said, ‘was there ever a better idea than a public library?’”

Fiske said that pre-orders for the calendars are being taken through Sept. 8, “so that Friends of the Library won’t have to outlay as much cash” to pay for copies that will be sold in Williston.

Kass said the financial benefit of the project will certainly be appreciated by the libraries across the state, but added that the very nature of the project fits in well with its cause.

“It’s not only about the money,” she said. “The education part of it is a big piece as well.”

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