The library, which graces Woodstock’s Green was built in 1883-1884, culminating a century of the Shire Town’s devotion to learning and literature. Woodstock has always been an unusually literate community: in the early 19th century private academies, a medical college, and reading circles flourished. Five weekly newspapers were published. The new library gave tangible, enduring form to this tradition.
The gift of Dr. Edward H. Williams, the library was constructed on the site of the home of his parents, Norman and Mary Williams at the cost of $30,000. The new library was an immediate and somewhat overwhelming success, and Dr. Williams soon (1901) gave $20,000 for a double-wing transept addition. In the 1980’s over $150,000 was raised and spent on a new roof and other important building repairs.
In 1999-2000, the NWPL underwent a $5 million renovation, restoration, expansion, and automation project. The basement area was totally remodeled and changed into well-lit, comfortable, state-of-art child and teenage area. A mezzanine level was constructed to house the reference collection. Administrative offices and the Vermont History Room were built in the former attic space. The original child’s area became the Reading Room, a place to relax and read newspapers, magazines, or a good book. This incredible project tripled the usable space from 5,000 to 15,000 square feet. When the new facility reopened to the public in September 2000 the card catalog and circulation system were automated.
Due in large part to a grant from the Vermont Library Trust (funded by the Freeman Foundation) in 2001, the NWPL now provides free Internet access in both the reference and youth areas.
Today, the library is a modern facility that respects its cultural, historical, and architectural histories while providing the best of contemporary library services. It serves the entire Woodstock area. The NWPL is open to the public six days a week, including three evenings. Over the next few years its collection of books and media is expected to double to almost 70,000 offerings. For over one hundred years the NWPL has purchased books and other materials and lent them (or otherwise made them available) to area residents. Circulation has grown to over 60,000 items loaned, one of the highest figures per capita of all Vermont towns our size. The NWPL Board of Trustees is committed to continue the long history of progress in order to meet the informational, cultural enrichment, and life-long learning needs of the members of its community.