POWNAL — The Solomon Wright Public Library is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and is inviting the public to celebrate.
The library, located at 97 Main Street, is holding a public reception to celebrate the milestone on Aug. 7, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. "There's no charge, it's a small community party," said library director Linda Hall.
Hall said that musical entertainment under the tent would be provided by the Hale Mountain Pickers and the Starlight Rhythm Boys. There will also be cake and ice cream from Stewart's, as well as games for children. Guest speakers Willy Jones and Bill Botzow will speak at 2:15 p.m. The event has been organized by a committee made up of members of the library's board of directors.
Throughout the year, the library has had a display case with the history of the library. The fourth grade class at Pownal Elementary School also published a booklet on the history of the library, the latest part of a long-running collaborative project between the school and Ken and Joyce Held of the Pownal Historical Society.
In 1952, Solomon Wright Jr., a local businessman and philanthropist, enabled the purchase of the site that would eventually become the home of the library with a $1,000 bequest. What followed was a fund-raising effort from the whole community. The town was able to take advantage of the 1962 federal Library Services and Construction Act, and in 1966 the library opened its doors for the first time.
Hall said that since she became director of the library in 1988, the size of the collection, the number of volunteers, and the number of programs offered have all grown. She said that the technology at the library has also increased, from one donated IBM computer in her early days, to five computer stations today.
"The mission of the Solomon Wright Public Library is," according to their website, "to promote the joys and benefits of lifelong learning by providing access to information through a range of media to all area residents. To this end, the library will strive to provide reference works and currently popular books and classics in an easily accessible and comfortable facility. In keeping with the need for technical competence, the library will also strive to maintain up-to-date computers and internet access for public use. The library will provide welcoming meeting space for local public service groups and offer a variety of opportunities for personal growth."
The library has several other programs coming up, including Yoga for Kids and the 20th, which is part of the library's summer reading program, and a presentation of live turtles and snakes from Michael Clough of the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum on Aug. 27. The library's annual book sale, its chief fundraising effort, will also take place this fall.
Hall said that it has taken a lot of hard work, from many individuals, to help the library reach age 50. "You have to have the support of your community," she said, "and people in that community who understand the value of a library for people young and old."
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.