Thanks To A Surprise Donation, Brattleboro Library Invests In Its Future

Nov 30, 2015

Ronald Read's story went viral earlier this year when it was reported that the thrifty Vermonter left an estate of more than $8 million when he died.

Brattleboro's Brooks Memorial Library received part of it, and now the library is starting a renovation project thanks to Read's gift.

Library Director Jerry Carbone says he was just as surprised as everyone else when he learned about Read's fortune.

The library regularly receives bequests, and Carbone heard in 2014 that the library would be getting a part of Read's estate, but he wasn't told how much.

"Then in January 2015 we were notified that it was $1.2 million and it was like a thunder bolt from the sky," Carbone says.

Read lived a quiet life in Brattleboro and made his millions investing in stocks. He hated to spend money, and even his family didn't know the extent of his wealth.

Carbone says he was a private man, though he was known as a regular patron.

 "He was frugal, and I think he knew the value of accurate information, so he could make his investments," says Carbone. "And I felt he intrinsically knew the value of a public library, the transformative effect it could have on people's lives, and it did on his."

The library is starting a $141,000 renovation project to clean-up and modernize its space.

Brooks Library Director Jerry Carbone looks over an architect's plans for a renovation of the library. The first thing the library did with Ronald Read's bequest was extend the hours that the town had eliminated during budget cuts.
Credit Howard Weiss-Tisman / vpr

Carbone says the library wants to create quiet rooms for meetings or tutoring, and bring the library into the 21st century.

"It really gave us the possibility to dream a little bit," he says. "And to put some of these dreams into reality. And it allows us to do these things that we haven't been able to do before."
 

"It really gave us the possibility to dream a little bit. And to put some of these dreams into reality. And it allows us to do these things that we haven't been able to do before." - Jerry Carbone, Brooks Memorial Library director

The first thing the library did with Read's money was extend the hours that the town had eliminated during budget cuts.

The library's endowment policy to invest the money and only spend the interest ensures the money will serve the library patrons far into the future.