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Haskell to Become Less Drafty

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--December 8, 2011.

larger_haskell.2.jpgThe historic Haskell Library, situated on the Canada-U.S. border in Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont, is finally restoring its windows. After several long years of fundraising for this project, made all the more difficult as a result of the library's regular operations being so chronically underfunded, the institution has at last begun the expensive process of restoring its aging, drafty, century-old windows.

Sally Fishburn, a restoration specialist from Vermont, has been contracted to remove and restore a number of the windows on the ground floor of the library, including repairing broken pulleys, panes, moldings and grout. Fishburn, who began her work earlier this month, will be paid a maximum of $31,900 U.S. to do the job.

The board, staff, volunteers and patrons of the Haskell will no doubt heave a collective sigh of relief when they see this job finally completed, since the library has been unable to open its ground floor windows for years. This, of course, has made the building extremely stuffy during the summer.

During the winter, the problem has been one of draftiness. Ill-sealed, cracking windows have caused much loss of heat, particularly irksome in light of the expense of heating a building this size. Some years ago, plastic sheets were installed over many of the windows in an effort to combat heat-loss. The resulting appearance has been less than ideal for such an important, historic building.

According to Haskell librarian Nancy Rumery, even though the project has only just begun, staff and library users are already feeling the difference. “With the repairs that have been done so far, and the temporary storm windows that have been put on,” she said, “we can already feel the improvement; it’s much less drafty in here.”

Many individuals and groups have contributed to making the windows project a reality. Major donors include: the town of Derby, Vermont ($20,000); the Friends of the Library, which raised money through an auction ($6,000); Richard and Kathy White of Derby Line, Vermont ($5,000); the Townshippers’ Foundation ($3,250 in two separate donations); the Bannerman Family Foundation ($2,000); and many much-appreciated individual donations of varying amounts.

larger_haskell.1.jpgThe work on the windows, which is being conducted on Mondays when the library is closed to the public, will take several weeks at least to complete.

Management at the Haskell will be pleased to have this project over with for another reason. The board, which consists of three Canadians and four Americans, will now have to turn its attention to other pressing problems related to leaks that have appeared in the building’s mortar and slate roof. The directors are currently considering this problem and will likely be seeking estimates to conduct repairs in the near future.

Meanwhile, fundraising continues to be ongoing just to maintain the regular level of services (and operating hours) in the library and opera house. A building that was monumentally expensive to construct at the turn of the last century, the Haskell is proving to be equally costly to maintain.

Fortunately, the local communities – on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border -- are profoundly attached to this institution. A federally-registered historic site in both countries, the Haskell is a vital community resource whose services are in constant demand. It is also one of the region’s premier tourist attractions.

If anyone would like to donate to the Haskell, whether for building restoration or for day to day operations, they may mail a tax-deductible cheque to the Haskell Library Foundation, 1 Church St., Stanstead, QC, J0B 3E2. All contributions are gratefully accepted and publicly acknowledged in the library. Donors of over $1,000 get their names etched in granite for all time! The Haskell also welcomes those who wish to include the institution in their estate planning, as many contributors have done, helping to build up the library’s endowment over the years.

For more information, the library may be reached at (819) 876-2471.

To view a video on the Haskell and its history, featuring an interview with librarian Nancy Rumery, click here: