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Rutland Free Library: A Community Analysis

Jessamyn West Outreach Librarian Rutland Free Library October 2, 2003

j. west, Rutland Free Library


History & Geography & Description

The Rutland Free Library service area encompasses Rutland Town, Rutland City, Mendon, Ira, and Tinmouth, a non-contiguous set of towns in Rutland County. The library is located in Rutland City, walking distance from downtown Rutland. Rutland City covers 8.3 square miles, or about 5,230 acres of mostly level and gently sloping land. The elevation ranges from approximately 500 to 900 feet above sea level. To the east are the ski resorts of the Green Mountains -- Killington, Pico and Shrewsbury. To the west of Rutland are the Taconics and New York State. Rutland is at the crossroads of US Route 4, connecting east-west to White River Junction and Glens Falls, N.Y., and US Route 7, connecting north-south to Burlington and Bennington. The two routes are major highways and have a bifurcating effect on the towns they go through. The service area of the library surrounds this intersection on all four sides. Rutland was the seat of the state legislature from 1784 to 1804. Growth was spurred by the arrival of the railroad in 1850. Incorporated as a city in 1892 Rutland had a population of 16,000. Rutland County historically was a transportation, commercial, and manufacturing center. During the 1920's Rutland was a center of commerce, supplying the needs of the railroads, the construction trade and the marble industry. Rutland was the hub of a railroad system that connected the Eastern Seaboard to the Saint Lawrence seaway. After World War II, the marble industry declined, followed by a decline in the machine industries, discontinuation of passenger rail service in 1954, and the demolition of the railroad complex in 1964. The retail commercial sectors and service industries, which support the tourist trade, are currently significant parts of the economy.



a note about percentages: since the populations of Mendon, Tinmouth and Ira are so small compared to Rutland town and city, smaller numbers of people can cause large fluctuations in percentages. Where possible actual numbers are used alongside percentages to highlight this.

The total population of the library's service area (LSA) is a bit over 22,000 people. Most of the data in this analysis is from the 2000 Census, the Long Range Plan, or more recent data sets. location Rutland City (RC) Rutland Town (RT) Mendon (MN) Tinmouth (TM) Ira (IR) population 17292 4038 1028 567 455 Town RC RT MN TM IR TOTAL 1997 est. 18,107 3,976 978 471 460 23,992 2015 est. 14,505 5,313 1,131 632 580 22,161 % change -19.9 +33.6 +15.6 +34.2 +26.1 -7.6

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The population within the service area has been shifting rapidly, primarily out of the city and into the town, or out of the area altogether. The smaller towns have a more stable expanding population, though percentage estimates do not give as clear a picture of the rate of population growth. Rutland City which is where the library is located, is losing 50100 people per year. Agewise the population breaks down as follows (2000 census). library service area (%) 350 (2%) 4568 (20%) 7666 (34%) 5741 (26%) 3483 (15%) 672 (3%) 22,480 Vermont (%) 33,989 (6%) 132,268 (22%) 214,308 (35%) 150,752 (25%) 67,514 (11%) 9,996 (2%) 608,827

Less than 5 years old 5 - 19 years 20 - 44 years 45 - 64 years 65 ­ 84 years 85 and older TOTAL

Rutland has a larger senior population than the state as a whole, and a smaller child and young adult population. Trends in this direction include [from the long-range plan] · · · · The population under the age of five will decline Elementary school age population ages (5-14) will increase by 1% The 25-44 age group will expand by 1.6% The number of people over 75 is expected to increase by 17%

Racially, the LSA is not dissimilar from many other parts of Vermont. 98% of the LSA reports themselves to be White with less than 200 people each of Asian, Black, American Indian or Hispanic/Latin race. Less than one percent of the LSA population considers themselves to be biracial.

area Total pop. Total one race White Black or African Am. Am. Indian and Alaska Native 42 2 0 10 0 54 Asian Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 9 0 0 0 0 9 Some other race Two or more races Hispanic or Latino


17,292 4,038 455 1,028 567 23,380

17,135 4,019 455 1,018 560 23,187

16,912 3,984 454 1,010 549 22,909

76 15 0 0 0 91

74 13 1 8 8 104

22 5 0 0 1 28

157 19 0 10 7 193

156 30 0 2 2 190

As far as languages spoken at home, 1135, or 5% speak a language other than English with the dominant other language being Spanish. One percent of the LSA speaks Spanish. Additionally 1.5% of the LSA population says they speak English "less than very well"


The library service area is comprised of almost 10,000 households according to the 2000 census. They are roughly 60% family households and 40% non-family. Of particular note is the high percentage of single-occupant households which is about one-third of the total. This compares to a 25% single-occupant rate overall in the US and 26% in Vermont.

j. west, Rutland Free Library 2/16/2010

total households non-family households single occupant households Families avg. household/family size

9947 3982 (40%) 3306 [subset of above] 5965 (60%) 2.46/2.92

The LSA's dominant housing type is the single family home, but the closer people live to the library, the more likely they are to be apartment dwellers. There is a great disparity between single-family home dwellers in Rutland City, and to the populations of Ira and Tinmouth [see below]. Tinmouth and Ira both have a large percentage of mobile home residents, which, when added to the numbers of mobile home residents, totals 269 people, or about one percent of the total population.


% in homes 48.7 77.9 83.1 72.8 81.8

% in mobile homes 2.0 2.7 9.2 .5 13.9

% in apts. 2-9 units 42.6 13.3 7.6 16.8 3.0

% in apts. 10+ units 6.8 6.1 0 9.9 .6

Other .1 .1 0 0 .6

108 of downtown Rutland's buildings are listed in the National Register. Like much of Vermont, Rutland and the surrounding towns are home to a wide variety of older homes. Rutland County has over 1,000 assisted apartments available for low- and moderate-income renters. year home structure Pre19401939 1990 49.3 47.6 15.8 72.1 28.6 55.1 11.2 82.3 22.4 61.3 built 1990present 3.1 11.9 16.4 6.6 16.4 seasonally occupied homes/total homes RC 42/8083 RT 28/1520 IR 29/184 MN 202/623 TM 109/291 total 410/10,701


The homeownership rate of Rutland County is 68.4 percent, 31.6 percent of the housing units are occupied by renters. Due to the LSA's proximity to the winter skiing areas, and it being one of the actual urban areas nearby, there are a lot of seasonally occupied homes as well as seasonal visitors. This is the case much more for Mendon, on the East side of the LSA, than Ira or Rutland City. Affordable housing for larger households is getting tougher to come by in the LSA according ot the Housing Assistance Council who states in their report:

j. west, Rutland Free Library


Social service and housing providers noted a lack of affordable housing units for larger households. There is also a shortage of single-room-occupancy (SRO) units to accommodate single people or people with special needs, particularly people making the transition from homelessness. The affordable housing that is available was generally described as being in substandard condition or needing rehabilitation. This housing is also expensive for low-income households. In 1990, over 43 percent of Rutland County's renter households paid more than 30 percent of their monthly income for rent, and 24 percent of homeowners were similarly cost- burdened.

Resources & Organizations

Community Resources

The library service area is home to many social service areas, particularly those that work with seniors. Almost 17% of the local population is employed in the government sector. The library service area is home to at least 35 houses of worship, primarily Christian, and several fraternal or social orders including the Knights of Columbus, Loyal Order of Moose, several Masonic Lodges including the Vermont Lodge of Research, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Exactly 7.7% of the LSA population is in elementary school and 7.7% is in secondary school. According to the Long Range Plan:

Twelve public schools and at least five private schools serve children and teens in the area. A technical school is incorporated into the public school program, also offering numerous night classes for the community. The city is home to one community college and one private college and near to one of the regional state colleges in Castleton.


elementary 1,296 272 38 92 47 1,745

secondary 1,199 334 40 107 45 1,725

The education range of the population of the LSA is varied. There is a large proportion of high school graduates, above the state average, but a significantly smaller proportion of college graduates, below the state average. The disparity between the Mendon residents and the Tinmouth/Ira residents is most apparent in this statistic.

less than 9th grade 9-12th no diploma high school grad or GED some college assoc degree bachelor's grad or prof. degree % high school grad or above % bachelors or higher


5.6 3.7 3.9 3.0 6.4

12.1 6.1 6.0 6.8 13.1

34.6 32.6 44.0 26.8 39.0

18.7 21.5 13.5 19.9 13.1

7.3 8.4 8.5 8.3 7.4

14.2 17.6 17.7 22.4 14.1

7.4 10.2 6.4 12.9 6.9

82.2 90.2 90.1 90.2 80.5

21.6 27.8 24.1 35.2 21.0

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There are 99 homeschooled students in Rutland County according to the State Department of Education's Home Study Program.


Local media that serves the area includes a daily paper [Rutland Herald circ, 22,000], two weeklies [The Mountain Times & Sam's Good News circ 13,000], and a monthly [The Rutland Business Journal circ, 10,000]. Local radio stations include Vermont Public Radio VPR 88.9 FM, Cat Country WJAN 94.5 FM, WEBK 105.3 FM, WHDQ Q106 FM, WJJR 98.1 FM, WVNR 1340 AM, WZRT 97.1 FM, WSYB 1380 AM. Local-ish TV stations are WCAX Channel 3, WPTZ Channel 5, WNNE Channel 31, The WB/WWIN TV and Community Access Channel 15. There are four bookstores in the area: one chain-type store in the mall; one antique and rare book dealer; and two general purpose bookstores. The LSA is served by four video stores and one CD and record store. According to the Long Range Plan

The Rutland Free Library is the largest public library in the area, but not the only one. Eight other public libraries in the county serve local residents in small towns surrounding Rutland City. Libraries at the College of St. Joseph and Castleton State College open their doors to the public for some services.

Also of note is the Rutland Community Correctional Center Library at Marble Valley Correctional Center and the Health Sciences Library at the Rutland Regional Medical Center. Tinmouth has a small all-volunteer library in town, the Tinmouth Public Library. With the exception of one small laundromat in town with some fee-based public access, Internet access is available either by paying a monthly fee to an Internet Service Provider [involving having your own computer, phone line, etc] or going to the public library or the libraries at one of the schools.


The downtown Rutland area has a large parking garage and on-street parking and is served by the low or no cost Rutland bus system [] which also serves some of the outlying areas but not the entire LSA. The bus stops about two blocks from the library, but not within sight of the library. There is some street parking available near the library with mostly metered spots and a few free spots a short walk away that are frequently filled. how residents get to work Carpool Public Walk Transpo 14.6 1.4 7.1 7.6 0.5 1.6 9.5 0.0 0.9 8.5 1.6 1.8 14.4 1.1 9.1

Drive RC RT IR MN TM 72.1 84.2 79.5 81.6 65.8

Work from Home 3.7 4.5 8.2 6.0 9.5

Most people drive to work in cars, some carpool and a few take public transportation. The current bus system was not operational at its present level at the time of the 2000 census, so these numbers may have changed. There was a 47% increase in Rutland County residents who took public transportation between 1990 and 2000. Many people in Rutland City walk to work. There was a 70% increase in people in Rutland county who have to travel 45 minutes or more to work between the 1990 and 2000 census.

j. west, Rutland Free Library 2/16/2010

Rutland is served by regular Amtrak and Greyhound bus services and has a small airport that mostly transports people to the large airports in Manchester, New York and Burlington.

Economic Life & Well-Being

The library service area includes very economically disparate areas. Tinmouth and Ira are primarily rural. Rutland City and Rutland town are more urban and the Mendon area has a larger seasonal population and is affected more by the proximity of the ski resorts and the tourist population.


The two major industry types in the area are Services (29.4%) Retail (18.9%) followed closely by Government (16.9%) and Manufacturing (16.9%). The largest employers are General Electric Co, Killington Ltd and Rutland Regional Medical Center (all 1000+ employees) followed by the State of Vermont (between 500-1000 employees) and smaller employers such as Carris Reels, Central Vermont Public Service Corp, Metromail Corporation, Price Chopper, Rutland Area Community Services, Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association, and Vermont State Colleges. According to a case study on Rutland by the Housing Assistance Council from 2001:

There has been a decline over the last couple of years in the number of manufacturing jobs available. General Electric has a plant in Rutland City, although it has reduced its workforce since 1995. Tam Brands was one of the area's largest employers, but closed its plant in 1997. The manufacturing jobs provided by these and other companies are desirable for low-income, low-skill workers, since they generally have pay rates above the minimum wage and provide fringe benefits. With fewer manufacturing jobs, social service and housing providers have noted increased competition for vacancies with manufacturing firms in the area.


unemployed 447 (3.2%) 48 (1.5%) 10 (3%) 13 (1.6%) 4 (1%)

not in labor force 5,256 (38%) 1,067 (33%) 90 (27.8%) 226 (27.3%) 172 (38%)

The numbers of people who are unemployed is fairly low, while the "not in labor force" numbers are higher, often pointing to a high retired population, seasonal workers, or the disabled. The median income in the LSA ranges from a per capita low of 16,583 in Tinmouth to a per capita high of 26,206 in Mendon. median income 30,478 44,420 46,875 53,125 32,608 per capita income 17,075 24,400 16,756 26,206 16,583


j. west, Rutland Free Library


Rutland County as a whole has a median income of $34,624 and a 10.5% poverty rate in 98-99. This compares to a range of almost 19% in poverty in Rutland City to a low of only 5.6% in Mendon. # below poverty line 3279 338 60 58 73 3808 % below poverty line 18.96 8.37 13.70 5.64 12.87 --

RC RT IR MN TM total

Quality of Life

Downtown Rutland is home to the newly restored Paramount Theater which has become a focal point of downtown renewal activity. With the capacity to present local and national acts, a strong web and community presence and seats for 800, it has quickly become a downtown destination. Rutland's downtown area near the library is also home to a large variety of primarily local shops, restaurants and small businesses. The Rutland Shopping Plaza is home to one of Vermont's four Wal-Marts in an unusual inner-city location instead of their traditional outskirts locations.

Problems & Trends & Community Needs

As the population of Vermont is increasing slowly, the population of Rutland City is decreasing. Job opportunities are more and more found elsewhere and the jobs that remain are more unskilled service-oriented jobs that serve the ski areas. The population remaining in the central part of the LSA is aging and requires different services and accomodations than the younger populations of one or two decades previously. The city is home to more people living below the poverty line who, while supported somewhat by social services, still have unmet needs. The LSA for the Rutland Free Library is unusual in that it is both rural and urban. Rutland is one of the largest cities in the state and yet Ira and Tinmouth are both very rural and Mendon enjoys more tourism and a higher standard of living than either place. Some of the major issues facing the community are:


The population is aging generally and demographic trends seem to point to the older population staying put while the younger population leaves the area, exacerbating this trend. The aged in the LSA do have a large number of social services and programmed events, but not a large degree of mobility. Library concerns: Parking; transportation to and from library; building and materials accessibility.

j. west, Rutland Free Library 2/16/2010


There is very little in the way of public transportation in the area. Parking solves some transportation problems, but increased traffic via the two major highways that serve the area and severe winter weather can make mobility within the LSA difficult. The outlying towns in the LSA can not make easy use of many of the public programs or services the library offers, though it is unknown if this is problematic for residents of those towns. Library concerns: Large geographical area of LSA; seasonal changes in services; remoteness of some users.


As Rutland moves away from its transportation and manufacturing base, jobs are getting somewhat scarcer and options for employment and livlihood are less. While Rutland has seen a revival lately in terms of Downtown investment and programming, much of this does not seem directed towards outlying areas. Rutland still has a stigma of being a place where there is "nothing to do" [to quote a recent teenager in to the library] and geographic and financial barriers keep people from seeking employment or entertainment outside of their traditional areas. Library concerns: Library providing services some patrons can not get elsewhere such as computer/Internet access, phone, daytime shelter; positives and negatives with library as destination; social service portal for partons.


Rutland Free Library Planning For Results 2000-2003, internal document. (LRP) Rutland Chamber of Commerce website Rutland Regional Planning Commission Rutland City Master Plan (MP){7B135F7F-3358-43FC-B154A313EF1F3222}/uploads/{16CB696D-B4AF-460F-AF74-C6FB97E67845}.PDF Case Studies on Rural Housing and Welfare Reform: Rutland Vermont (2001) Center for Rural Studies: Vermont Community Databank Downtown Rutland Partnership

j. west, Rutland Free Library



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