The South Burlington Community Library was established in October 1971, with the goal of serving both the school district and community at large. Originally located in South Burlington High School, the library serves a growing and increasingly culturally diverse community in one of the largest municipalities in Vermont.
From 1971 to 2001, both the school and community Library were managed by one professional librarian, Claire Buckley. It was supported primarily by school funds, with only a small amount of funds allocated for the community's needs. Fortunately, in May 2001, the City Council approved the hiring of a full-time community librarian to better address the public's library needs.
After the arrival of the community librarian, Louise Murphy, there were numerous improvements to the Library. With the financial assistance of grants obtained through the Vermont Public Library foundation, the Library renovated and expanded its children's library; opened a new entrance on the north side of the building; and expanded staffing and program offerings, both on-site and through outreach to the city's growing senior population. Louise worked with city staff and architects to create possible designs for a new public library/high school model, engaging the public in visioning. These changes were consistent with renewed interest in the growth and development of the Library as a vital community resource. When librarian Jennifer Murray came on in 2014, plans were underway to move the library to a new building that had yet been designed or built.
On December 7, 2017 the Public Library relocated to the University Mall as a temporary home, while plans for a building that would permanently house the Library and City Hall were underway. In November 2018, following many community meetings, the South Burlington community approved the ballot initiatives that would make this plan a reality with a 74% "Yes" vote. Many "thanks" go to the Boards of Trustees and Friends of the Library over the decades for their perseverance and vision.
The South Burlington Public Library is settling into its new home on Market Street. Since its grand opening on July 23, 2021, thousands of visitors have crossed the threshold. In the first year, over 1,800 new library cards were issued to the public.
The beautiful new building, which also includes City Hall and the Kevin Dorn Senior Center, is located in South Burlington’s growing City Center at 180 Market Street. The new Library, which opened on July 19, 2021, is 30,748 square feet, including a 100 seat auditorium for meetings and cultural events and comprises 28,000 square feet of books, reference materials, computers, children’s and young adults’ areas, hands-on and technology spaces, and meeting rooms. Reading and gathering spaces enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows that offer sweeping views of the surrounding area. The library is a monument to civic access to information, and dedicated staff members are ready to assist the public everyday.