South Burlington Library Moves to City Center

After 47 years of sharing space with the City's high school, South Burlington's public library finally has a home all its own.  The doors opened at the newly refurbished University Mall location on Dorset Street in early December 2017, following the relocation of over 45,000 items in the collection.

 In August, City Manager Kevin Dorn finalized the lease of the transitional location and charged Director of Community Engagement and Innovation Coralee Holm to manage the fit up and move. Working closely with Library Director Jennifer Murray, a plan for the 7,800-square foot space was formulated to accommodate the needs of library patrons with a targeted open date during the holiday season.

 This move comes after many years of desire for a new location. It is a transitional move, until a new library facility can be developed within City Center.

 “In the shared space at the high school, our librarians were working in cramped quarters and their programming was determined around the students’ schedules. In this new space, librarians and patrons have defined spaces to work, collaborate, and connect,” said Holm. Today, you can work with others in the “co-op,” a semi-private space in the heart of the library; settle into comfortable lounge seating to read; or attend programming in the glass-lined meeting room.

 The renovation from a retail space to a community space required the imaginative design that you see today. With a focus on the space being transitional, the furnishings and fixtures were purchased with the plan for them to be moved to the ultimate library location in the future. This includes moveable walls for the meeting room, server and storage space, and workstations for staff.

 “We wanted to bring energy and a sample of what the new library in City Center could include. You will see our City brand in the colors of the space, as well as providing spaces that meet the Library’s mission.

 In its new location, the library has good handicapped accessibility, is near a covered parking lot, and will collaborate with the University Mall in using the common space outside the library for its larger events, such as its winter concert series. New programming began in January along with an Open House event to officially welcome the community. 


The move itself required a precise plan, including meticulous measurements and math during the planning stages, and a lot of hard work from library staff, movers, and volunteers. Library Director Jennifer Murray had to assign a new home for every part of the collection in the new space, and ensure that during the move, each item would be delivered to the correct shelf in the new library. 

Rather than packing boxes, marking them for delivery location, and unpacking, a type of book brigade was used. Using a host of shelved carts and bins, materials were systematically packed at the high school location, loaded on the moving truck, driven up the street, and delivered to the new location for unpacking. Most materials were moved directly from their former shelving to their new space. As you might imagine, this took a coordinated effort of both staff and volunteers.

Murray noted, "the South Burlington Public Library was very lucky to have over fifty dedicated volunteers assist with move preparation, execution, and clean-up." 

Two armies of staff and volunteers worked in concert with a team loading the moving carts at the high school, while others were waiting to rapidly reshelf the books, audiobooks, and DVDs as they arrived—one load at a time—at the mall.  Over three days, Booska Worldwide Movers ferried the collection down Dorset Street to its new home. Then, within about 10 days, the librarians organized and settled the final details of opening the space to the public in the beginning of December.

The children’s library collection was moved in its entirety, with its painted book carts, colorful display units and seating. Paul Steinman, a volunteer who installed wheels on the children's picture book bins to make them more portable, noted "I think it's good for the library to have an identity of its own, separated from the school."


Along with the move comes a name change for the library. Since its inception in 1971, the library has been known as the South Burlington Community Library.  In it’s new location, it is now the South Burlington Public Library. Why the name change?

Typically, a community library is named as such due to its location in a school facility. With the separation of space and collections, the City’s library now becomes public.