A Story about a Town and a Club Devoted to Literacy: A brief glimpse of the Crescendo Club, Cambridge, and the Varnum Memorial Library 

by April Tuck

1898: Crescendo Club formed, as a branch of the Vermont Federation of Women's Clubs

Purpose: to keep books available to the public free of charge

Locations: the front room of Carrie Carroll's home and the Main Street building owned by Mrs. Morgan

The Motto: Not for Fame but for Character

The Libraries


First librarian: Miss Marion Page

Both branches open on Saturday afternoons

Books free to anyone in town, no age limit, although the few simple rules which have been adopted will be rigidly enforced

1906: Help from the Start

Three libraries receive town funding: 

-The Jeffersonville branch

-The Cambridge branch

-The Wilson Library, North Cambridge

1909: New Laws


"Under the new law, several of the teachers have availed themselves of the privilege of taking books from the library to loan to their pupils, and we wish other teachers would do the same."  Carrie Carroll 

1909: Ever Hopeful


"May the influence of the library be more extensive in the coming year than it has in the past."

1909: Suitable Reading


"It seems that every resident should be interested in a public library, especially those having children as great care is exercised in the selection of children's books so that nothing but suitable reading shall be placed before them."

1909: Growing


"The Cambridge Library Association has but 15 members and it is quite a hard proposition to obtain money each year to supply a sufficient amount of reading matter to the patrons which number nearly 150."

1912: Independence!


Cambridge Branch of the Crescendo Club becomes the Cambridge Free Library - Supported by the Ukan Club

Jeffersonville Branch of the Crescendo Club Library becomes the Crescendo Club Library - Supported by the Crescendo Club

1917: Readers Wanted...


"There are many good books here, and should be read by more." AM Rice

"...if the people of the village would take more interest and do what they could to help raise funds, Cambridge would not be so far behind other towns on the public library question." Mrs. J W Raymore

1919: War and Epidemics


"During the past year, the library has been closed nearly four months on account of scarlet fever and flu. Owing to such a call for money for war purposes we have not urged work for the library, but hope to have the aid of its patrons soon." Carrie P. Carroll

"...a decrease from last year owing to the necessity of closing the library for several weeks because of the epidemic of influenza." Mr. J W Raymore

1919: Remembrance


To honor our soldiers in WWI, the Crescendo Club, with the help of pastor Barlett and others planted Maple trees along a street which was later named Maple Street

1920: First Legacy Gift


Mrs. Dora Atwood left the Crescendo Club $1,500, the interest of which could be used as the Club saw fit

1921: Another First!


Carrie P. Carroll, the first female superintendent in Cambridge, elected as the first female library trustee

1921: Assimilating


The Crescendo Club becomes part of the Vermont State Federation of Women's Clubs

1927: A New Home


Mrs. Harvey Varnum leaves her home on Main Street to the Crescendo Club to be used as a library and community center



The upkeep was prohibitive so with the permission of the Varnum family, the building is sold to the Pope family for $4,000; the library moved to the old Smith home

The 1927 Floods


"A number of books were ruined that were in the homes. The flood also decreased our patronage." Miss WA Storey, Cambridge Library

1929: Moving


"The library has recently been moved to rooms over H. N. Gray's store, and will have the cooperation of the Orion Club." Miss WA Storey

1929: The Power of Illness


"The library was closed for four weeks on account of the measles and scarlet fever." Minnie Saxton

1938: Two Clubs, Two Libraries


The Cambridge Library became the Orion Club Library

The Crescendo Club Library incorporated

-The library building cost $5,500 and the Club shouldered the $500 debt, which took 5 years to pay

1938: A New Home


"The new Varnum Memorial Library has been built and is being much enjoyed by its many patrons all over the entire town."

"The various members of the Crescendo serve you as hostess with much pleasure and pride, in their new library home." Carolyn A. Lease, President of Crescendo Club

1940: War Efforts


The library, with the help of the Girl Scouts, carried on the Victory Drive as requested by the state library

The drive aimed to provide books to the servicemen

1941: The Effect of War


"Due to the fuel shortage, the library will be open only the first and third Thursdays of the month at the regular hours until further notice." Rachel S. Bicknell, president, Crescendo Club Library Association

1943: Debt-free!


Mrs. Rachel Bicknell, President announced that this note for five hundred dollars has been paid in full and requested Mrs. Lease, as one of our faithful workers to burn the note

1945: Struggles


"Keeping the village library open one afternoon a week was found to be unprofitable, and after conferring with those most interested, it was decided to carry out a different program. Once a month a goodly number of books are taken from the library and placed on the shelves with those left by the Book Wagon, in the home of Mrs. Nellie Willey, who takes full charge of them." Lila Urquhart, President of the Cambridge Community Club

"...since school opened last fall Mrs. Leonard Pierce, teacher of the North Cambridge school, has had the keys to open the library for books if she wanted for the school children, and anyone else that wished to loan books." Clifford Chase, Trustee

1947: Weeding Season


"Thanks is due Miss Elizabeth Ball (Bookwagon Lady) for her assistance in weeding out those books of 'ancient vintage...'" Lila M. Urquhart

1948: Keeping up Appearances


"In the summer of 1948 the exterior of the library received a beauty treatment and emerged glistening white." Mrs. George Marsh

1948: The Golden Jubilee


"We hope the Crescendo Club may be as a pebble dropped in the sea of events whose ripples may widen and deepen more and more each year till only God can estimate its benefit to itself and the community it endeavors to serve." Mrs. George Marsh



"Our current project is raising funds for a new furnace, which is sorely needed. Our trustees are Mrs. Ernest Gallup, Mrs. Edson Bassett, Mrs. Ray Perkins, Mrs. Jason Cameron, Mrs. Murray Noble, Mrs. Wilmer Safford, Mrs. Mary More, Mrs. Ralph Thomas and Mrs. Abner Bell." Lucy Root, President CCLA

1952: The Cost of Business


"Due to the fact that the money allotted the library had been cut from $25 to $10 per year, very little can be accomplished in the way of new books.

Insurance on the library books is $4 which leaves only $6 which will hardly buy four adult books." Lila M. Urquhart

1952: Struggles


"The Library has not had a Librarian the past year, but the teacher of the North Cambridge School has had the permission to use the books for the school. Through the kindness of Maureen Rooney, the adults have had the privilege of borrowing books." Clifford Chas and Chauncey Mudgett, Trustees

1956: Upkeep


"The building committee had repairs made to the sills around the back door, as these were quite rotted." Mary Edwards, President, CCLA

1958: Housework


"The Library floors were sanded and refinished last summer. The furnace was checked and repaired." Helen Huntley, President, CCLA

1959: Organizing Efforts


"We are now working on a new method of cataloging all the books. This will enable the library to keep better control of them." Helen Chouinard, President, CCLA

1962: It Never Ends!


"The exterior of the building has been painted and repaired...Right away we have to replace our heating system which has been pronounced unsafe by repairmen.

Next summer during the school vacation we hope to have the books re-cataloged and order restored to our book shelves." Marie Bassett, President, CCLA

1962: Keeping it Alive


"The key to the library is at the home of Leslie Rogers." Clifford Chase and Chauncey Mudgett, Trustees

1963: Maintenance


"One hundred and sixty-five dollars of the Village appropriation was spent for capping the building with insulation and for making the entrance door tighter. The rest of the appropriation will be set aside for maintenance if necessary or for more repairs." Marie Bassett, Secretary, CCLA

1965: Expanding Our Service


"Many books on the church reading list may be found in the library." Hazel Perkins, President, CCLA

1966: Farewell


"The trustees have decided that they will not need the money for another year as there is not enough patronage." Clifford Chase and Chauncey Mudgett, Trustees

1967: Expanding our Offerings


"In addition, we have a fine selection of operatic records given us by the Columbia Record Company while many of the latest popular records have been donated by the RCA Victor Company." Eunice Gates, President, CCLA

1970: Pitching In


"Through the kindness of Mr. Richard Bishop, more new bookshelves have been constructed and with the cooperation of Mr. Curtis McCuin and the State Highway department, we have created a better approach to the Library from the highway." Jane K. Corse, President, CCLA

1971: Thank you, Jane!


"The Library has been painted due largely to the efforts of Miss Jane Noble and future plans for improvement include the installation of a light and railing for the walk and some renovation of the existing facilities. We also hope to have a Saturday Story Hour for the children this summer." Charlotte D. Stephens, President, Crescendo Club



"We would welcome any suggestions from the townspeople so that we may improve the service to you and we urge you to visit the library." Helen R. Chouinard, President, Crescendo Club

1974: It All Adds Up


-A complete cleaning of the inside of the library building

-Mr. Reg Thompson and crew added four new shrubs and did landscaping where necessary

-Mr. Ray Perkins built shrub protectors

-A new wrought iron railing was installed by Mr. Harry Lafountain at a minimal cost

-We are grateful to one of our club members for donating a warm rug

Geraldine L. Bishop, President, Crescendo Club

1976: Keeping Up with Trends


"The Book Committee is always anxious to cater to the tastes of its readers and welcomes suggestions for the purchase of books or for those borrowed from the Regional Library." Jane K. Corse, President, Crescendo Club

1979: Energy Efficiency


"The Crescendo Club is working on a project of insulating the building and buying storm windows in order to save fuel costs." Frances Westman, President, CCLA



"The roof was reshingled and repaired as well as a deteriorated beam. In the rear of the building, the old siding was covered with new vinyl. The remaining three sides should be painted in the spring." Beverly F. Watts, President, CCLA

1983: Getting more Sophisticated


1983 was the first year the Crescendo Club proposed a formal budget. They requested $1,600 from the town.

1984: You Choose!


In their budget for FY 1985, the Crescendo Club requested of the town $2,049.14 or $1,834.14.

They received the higher amount!



"With the completion of the attic insulation, being awarded First Place for our creative float for the Fourth of July parade, an interesting year of monthly programs, excellent attendance at our meetings and varied money raising projects for the Varnum Library, the Crescendo Club has had a banner year." Helen Minaert, President, CCLA

1985: Multi-tasking


Our money raising projects included the following:

-Carnival Beef Stew Dinner

-Refreshment book at a Cambridge auction

-Food sale at Hanley's store

-Annual cookie and lemonade sale during the Fourth of July celebration

-Participation in the Fall Craft Sale at the Cambridge Gymnasium

-Pie and Book Sale during the Fall Festival

-Harvest Dinner at the Windridge Farms Kitchen dining room

-Thanksgiving Pie Sale, and

-Hosting at the Mary Bryan Art Center

1986: Frugal and Responsible


"The members of the Crescendo Club are happy to report that we will not need to ask the Town for additional funds this year." Annette E. Olsen, President, CCLA



"There are many things the Library needs. As the time passes and you in the community become aware of them, we will have to ask for more support. Some suggestions requested so far are: a phone, more hours open, and expansion of the building. At the rate our population is increasing, that may have to be in the near future." Toni Olsen, President, CCLA

1986: Weeding Pains


"Due to lack of shelf space, the library was forced to weed the collection. Unfortunately, no matter how selectively one weeds a collection, it is always hard to discard any good book that we have managed to obtain. Of course we would always prefer to see the library grow to accommodate the collection rather than trimming the latter to suit the shelves." Miriam Quagliato, Librarian



"The financial assistance from the Town has enabled us to continue library hours at 20 hours per week and to add an access ramp to the library building.

The quality and efficiency of the lighting in the library needs to be improved. A committee is currently investigated grants which may help finance this project. The energy efficiency of the present heating system also need to be addressed."

1994: High Tech


"The most noteworthy happening at the library this year was the addition of the new computer system, consisting of a patron's computer with a CD-ROM and modem and the Librarian's system.

We would also like to thank all the people who provided real and emotional support while we became comfortable with the computer systems." Gene Rybicki Judkins, Librarian

1995: Our Mission


To make available to the community, books and other resources for knowledge, culture and enjoyment and to work cooperatively with other community groups in the achievement of our goals

1995: Continuing to Automate


"VML entered the twenty-first century by going on-line on the Vermont Automated Library System." Gene Rybicki Judkins, Librarian

1995: Upkeep Continues


"There are some much needed building repairs which we can no longer postpone - repair and some painting on the outside trim, pillars and steps, repair of windows, doors, locks, etc, and minor repairs and maintenance inside the building."



"Next year we need to make major repairs to maintain the inside of the building. This will include installation of new bookcases to ensure safety and provide more effective use of space and alleviation of problems in the basement areas caused by periodic flooding, i.e.dampness and ventilation."

2005: We've Grown!


Through a rigorous capital campaign spearheaded by Sally Vautour, a 648 square foot addition was built onto the existing Varnum Memorial Library

2009: Keeping Current


The Crescendo Club updates its by-laws and reviews its status as a tax exempt organization

2010: 21st Century - Here We Come!


-Staff and volunteers computerize our collection using barcodes on the books and other materials, as well as patron library cards

-We have an additional computer as a dedicated search station for the library catalog for users

-We join a library consortium (VOKAL) to support our new online library catalog

-We subscribe to Vermont Online Library (a wealth of database subscriptions searchable in the library and at home) and the Green Mountain Library Consortium, downloadable digital audio books, at no cost to library patrons, available online in the library or at home

Mary Paulman, President, CCLA

2011: Making the Grade


"For the first time in the history of the library, the Varnum has met the Vermont Department of Libraries standards for a public library!" Jennifer Bartlau, Library Director

2012: Staying Current


"The Library underwent a complete efficiency audit, the results of which have allowed us to focus our own energies in the terms of priorities." April Tuck, President, CCLA

2013: Zooming to the Future

-The Crescendo Club Library Association is 115 years old

     -Men now belong to the club

     -Our programs are increasing in frequency and variety

     -We are an information center

     -We are developing a strategic plan