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History of the Friends

The history of community support for Burlington's public library begins with its inception. 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. The Carnegie Library building, one of only four Carnegie libraries in Vermont, opened in 1904 as a permanent home for the collection.

In 1957, the Friends of the Fletcher Free Library was established to "promote an informed interest in the services and needs of the library." Throughout the '60s and '70s, the Friends provided "moral, physical, and financial support" to the library.

In 1974, the Carnegie building was closed because of structural problems. While there was a move to condemn and replace the building, the "Committee to Save the Fletcher Free Library Building" was formed to preserve it. Through the efforts of the committee and supportive community members, the Carnegie building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and a new wing was built and dedicated in 1981 to house the adult collection. With the future of the library's home secured, the Friends returned to their work of supporting programs and services.

In the 1980s, the group successfully advocated for a 1/2 cent-dedicated-tax to provide the library with an annual collections budget. In 2001, the Friends became more active and gained 501c3 non-profit status. In 2018, following an agreement with the City of Burlington, the Friends became the fiscal agent for the library, receiving grants as well as donations for the use of the Fletcher Free.

Today, the Fletcher Friends continues to pursue its mission to encourage community support for the Fletcher Free Library, raise money for its needs, promote cultural and literacy programs, and sponsor educational and enrichment programs for all ages.

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