On July 14, 1873, Mrs. Mary L. Fletcher and her daughter, Miss Mary M. Fletcher, gave the city of Burlington $20,000 for the founding of the Fletcher Free Library. Half of this sum was to be spent on books; the other half was used to start an endowment for the library.
By 1901, the library had outgrown its location in the old City Hall building. In the same year, Andrew Carnegie made a gift of $50,000 for the construction of a new library. On August 17th, 1904, the new library was dedicated and opened for business. For almost 70 years the Carnegie building served the community well, but in 1973 the building sustained structural damage due to the settling of the northwest corner of the foundation (where poor quality material used to fill the former railroad ravine was settling). The collection was moved that year to temporary quarters in Contois Auditorium in City Hall, then a few months later to the basement of Memorial Auditorium.
In the early to mid-1970's there was some pressure from the citizenry to demolish the Carnegie building and rebuild on the site. In response, a group of Burlington residents formed The Committee to Save the Fletcher Free Library Building. A petition was circulated, and as a result, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August of 1976. In 1977, an E.D.A. grant of $234,000 made possible the stabilization and external repair of the building. A Library Task Force was appointed to seek further funding for restoration and an addition to the Carnegie building.
In 1978, Burlington voters approved a 2.4 million-dollar bond issue to build an addition to the Carnegie building. The addition was dedicated on January 4, 1981 and marked a new chapter for Burlington's public library.
Today the Fletcher Free Library is a vibrant partner in the Burlington community. The collection includes over 155,000 items, including: 5,493 DVDs; 40,820 e-books; 7,845 downloadable audiobooks; 3,380 books on CD or MP3; 315,910 streaming videos; and 111,708 books and everything else (museum passes, book club kits, magazines, databases, subscriptions and gardening tools, etc). Free internet access is available to laptop users and at public access computers. The Library offers the community programs and services that meet your educational, cultural and life-long learning needs.
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