This gift of former resident George Joslin underscores the significance of Vermont's Old Home program for small rural communities. Roderick Richardson founded Waitsfield village in 1817 to lure settlement from the elevated common down to the more industrially strategic Great Eddy on Mad River. He established a general store at the northwest corner of the intersection of what would become VT 100 and Bridge Street and linked it to the common by what is now the state's second-oldest covered bridge—the clear-span, Burr arch truss Great Eddy Bridge of 1833. Rebuilt in brick in 1845 and with polygonal oriel show windows, the store helped make the village the commercial hub of its agricultural valley. Bypassed by railroads, the village never flourished industrially, and those seeking fortunes had to head elsewhere.
After George Joslin built a newspaper empire in Omaha, Nebraska, he gave funds for a library in Waitsfield in remembrance of his boyhood home and his settler grandfather. Joslin offered the services of his favored architect, John MacDonald of Omaha, who had built his house in 1903 and, in 1931, designed the Art Deco Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. The H. P. Cumming Construction Company of Ware, Massachusetts, erected the library under the supervision of Montpelier architect F. A. Walker. The library brought refined Beaux-Arts classicism to the Mad River Valley. The square, hipped-roof building on a high basement is built of yellow brick with Indiana limestone detailing. The facade is organized by pilasters that frame large windows and a projecting porch with Ionic columns in antis. The interiors have marble, fine wood paneling, original light fixtures, and an art-glass skylight. Housing town offices, a meeting room, and (until 1966) the post office, as well as the library, Joslin's gift brought mainstream culture and a new civic focus to his native village.