Ilsely library MiddleburyIdentifying a community need and leveraging local partners and resources to address it was an exciting piece of the puzzle for the Ilsley Public Library in Middlebury. With new ideas, partners, and local funding, the Library has helped make it possible for visitors, friends, and neighbors to explore Middlebury and Addison County on the library’s three e-bikes at no charge.

Thanks to Local Motion Middlebury Safe Routes and Frog Hollow Bikes, a pilot program brought two local e-bikes to the region, allowing residents to test out a new means of transportation. Once the pilot program came to a close, the Ilsley Public Library team knew that the need for e-bike access in Middlebury was there to stay.

“The e-bikes were incredibly popular and the staff here at the library saw how well the program had gone,” says Ilsley Public Library Director, Dana Hart. “The idea needed a permanent home and we were thrilled to be able to offer this resource to our community through the library.”

Originally, the library had two e-bikes from the original pilot program, but when Dana heard about the Climate Catalysts Innovation Fund through the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), she submitted an application to help fund the purchase of an additional e-bike. Soon after, the library was granted enough funds to purchase a new e-bike, bringing a total of three available at the library.

“Thanks to the Climate Catalysts Innovation Fund, community members are now able to borrow three e-bikes from the library – two standard and one cargo style that allows for a child’s seat to attach for the whole family to enjoy,” shares Dana.

Frog Hollow Bikes helps sustain the program in Middlebury by housing and maintaining the three library e-bikes. Patrons can call the library to reserve an e-bike(s) for up to three full days, and they can be picked up at Frog Hollow Bikes.

Dana adds that library patrons share only positive feedback when they return an e-bike and that many are repeat customers, meaning many patrons are using the e-bikes as a source of transportation and a more climate friendly solution rather than just a novelty. In addition, the e-bikes allow for greater accessibility in Middlebury and the surrounding towns.

“Not everyone has a car or a bike and by offering the free use of e-bikes, we’re creating more accessibility and inclusiveness in our community,” says Dana.

Library patrons are also enjoying the summertime joys of a new outdoor activity with their families and exploring Middlebury – some even traveling to Burlington around Lake Champlain.

“Our generous partners enable exciting projects like this to seed ideas into action, take root within communities, and create long-term beneficial change,” says VCRD’s Climate Economy Program Manager, Laura Cavin Bailey. “We are thrilled to provide funds for another round of innovative projects that work towards changing people’s energy consumption patterns while having fun!”

In addition to e-bikes in Middlebury, the Climate Catalysts Innovation Fund has supported community projects that have installed new draft-stopping window inserts, solar parking lot streetlights, an EV police cruiser, construction of a public regenerative “food forest,”energy audits for local businesses, and more. The Innovation Fund is now accepting applications through September 18, 2022.

When asked what she would say to someone considering an application for the Climate Catalysts Innovation Fund, Dana says with a big smile, “Go for it! The application is easy and the staff at VCRD is a pleasure to work with and we are incredibly grateful for the support here in Middlebury.”


This grant was funded in 2021 and made possible through generous contributions by VLITE, Vermont Community Foundation, VSECU, and other Vermont funders.

Applications for the second round of Climate Catalysts Innovation Grants are open through September 18, 2022. To learn more and apply please visit our website and reach out to Laura Cavin Bailey at [email protected] with any questions.