Fletcher Free Library. Photo by Jake Dawson/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — The Fletcher Free Library will be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, marking the second year in a row the Burlington public library will be open for the holidays for people who need a place to go.

The library, located on College St., will be open from noon until 4 p.m. with limited services, but guests will still be able to gather, read, check out books and movies and have a warm drink.

Last year, Library Director Mary Danko said about 175 people came to the library for the holidays.

Danko said being open for Thanksgiving and Christmas helps fulfill part of the library’s mission.

“We thought about what kind of gaps in the community’s services need to be filled,” she said about how the idea first came about last year.

Danko said having the library open can be a great help to people who may be struggling during the holidays. While library staff have never — and never will — ask why someone is coming to the library, Danko said the few hours on the holidays can make a large difference for homeless individuals and low-income families. 

“Many people want a place to go,” she said. “It’s a great way to get young kids out of the house.”

Last year, Danko said some children would come to the library with a family member while the rest of the family is making dinner, to help keep the kids entertained and the house calm.

Volunteers and staff will be joining Danko on Thanksgiving to greet library goers. Danko said some people brought food and drinks last year to share with people at the library and is hopeful that trend will continue this year. Danko said she couldn’t guess how many people will come to Fletcher Free this year but said it can be weather dependent. Regardless, Danko hopes to welcome more people than last year.

Being open for the holidays offers locals another opportunity to give back and volunteer for the library.

Danko sees the library being open on holidays as just another way to help people in need.

“We’re really just trying to meet the needs of the community,” she said. 

State Librarian Jason Broughton applauded Fletcher Free’s commitment to be open the two holidays. 

“Libraries are a great place to gather, even when some people can’t during the holidays,” he said.

Broughton said the state used to keep a list of libraries open on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the Department of Libraries stopped keeping track a few years ago. 

Jennifer Johnson, a library advancement assistant at the Department of Libraries, said the Haskell Free Library in Derby Line is only other library who notified the department by Friday afternoon they would be open on Thanksgiving. 

Johnson said some libraries around the state stayed open later during the previous summer to provide air conditioned spaces for residents. 

Jacob Dawson is VTDigger's Burlington intern. Jacob is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he studied journalism and political science. While at UNH, Jacob was an editor and writer...

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