As Heat Settles in, Vermont Library Copes With Summer-Long Loss of A/C

The Norman Williams Public Library continues to serve patrons with the help of fans and portable A/C units.

A landmark in an iconic Vermont town has found itself on the hot seat this summer: Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library has dealt with several very warm weeks after most of its air conditioning capacity was knocked offline.

“We’re all hot, but we’re glad we’re open and able to help the patrons,” said Amanda Merk, the executive director of the library.

Merk explained the HVAC system in the 1880s landmark needs a total overhaul.

After a key cooling compressor croaked, it has been getting toasty in the historic building, but temporary additions such as fans, portable air conditioning units, and a station providing cold drinking water are helping add some comfort.

Programming remains uninterrupted thanks to the fans and keeping the lights off upstairs, but the staff is prepared to move certain events if the temperatures get unbearable, Merk noted.

As for seniors or other vulnerable folks whose health could be impacted without air conditioning, Merk said there’s a new offer.

“Our librarians and our volunteers are more than happy to get them books that they need, or whatever materials they want, and deliver them directly to their homes,” the director said.

A $500,000 capital campaign was already underway to fund the installation of an energy-efficient heating and cooling system before the compressor died, but the library said the loss of the A/C added extra urgency to raise those funds.

Engineers and contractors are already on board, Merk said, and work on a permanent fix is expected to start in September.

Until then, the prospect of a hot summer isn’t keeping loyal patrons away.

“It doesn’t bother me whatsoever; I love it,” patron Leslie Tilles told necn. “But maybe I’m a person who likes a little heat.”

“When we raise enough money, we’ll have air conditioning next year,” patron Nancy Conte predicted. “As long as we have heat in the winter, I think we can live without air conditioning in the summer.”

Merk said the HVAC installation work should be wrapped up by the time the cold weather returns, which is when the facility really will need the new heating and cooling system.

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