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Help! We Can't Open Our Windows!: Haskell

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larger_windows.a.jpg--November 25, 2010

The Haskell is historic and lovely, but you can't open the windows in the library when it's hot. In the winter, the place is so drafty, staff have to put heavy plastic and close the shutters over all of the windows to keep the cold out. Not surprisingly, these run-down old windows are not the most cost-efficient in terms of heating the building.

Over the century and a bit that the library has been in business, the windows have seen their fair share of weather and wear and tear. They are long overdue for maintenance.

In 2009, an estimate was submitted by an expert in the restoration of historic wood-framed windows. The total cost of redoing all of the windows on the main floor of the library (i.e., not including those in the opera house) came in at just over $31,000. That amount would cover restoration work on all of the weights and pulleys, re-grouting, weather stripping, scraping and refinishing, and would include both interior and storm windows.

Last year, members of the board, staff and volunteers at the Haskell began fundraising for this project. But because the institution is so strapped for cash already, it has been slow-going. To date, however, over $13,000 has been raised. This includes money accumulated at a silent auction organized by volunteers, a $2,000 grant from Townshippers' Foundation, and a recent donation of $5,000 from Richard and Kathy White of Derby Line.

Plans are currently in the works to request funding from Vermont Historic Preservation, a state agency in the U.S. Even if that agency comes through, however, the library will still be several thousand dollars short.

In recent weeks, visitors to the Haskell will have noticed a curious window-shaped donation box inside the entrance to the library. This box is filled with a growing number of Canadian and American bills of various denominations -- and lots of change. "But we still have a long way to go," says librarian Nancy Rumery, who is all too familiar with the library's decaying centenarian apertures. "Please help," she urges the public. "This project will help us to save on energy, it will make our library more comfortable for visitors, and it will preserve the historic character of this wonderful old building."

Rumery adds that donations to either the windows project or to regular library operations are always tax-deductible. Cheques may be made out to the Haskell Library Foundation, 1 Church St., Stanstead, QC, J0B 3E2. For more information, call (819) 876-2471.