In case you didn’t know it, last week was National Library Week. There are those who say libraries are like dinosaurs, a thing of the past, historic, out of date and just plain retro.
We disagree, but then libraries have been a part of our life since we were very small. Grandmother Eunice Taylor McCoy was one of the very earliest supporters of a public library along with our maternal parent. We weren’t around when the first library was located in the Harwood House on North Main Street, but later addresses became very familiar.
Marian Johnson, who at the time lived in New York City, had a strong connection to the Valley and spent her later years at historic Mill Island, her husband’s home, just south of Town. She loved books and when she found out the ladies of Moorefield were trying to establish a library, she gathered books by the boxes from friends in the city and brought them to Moorefield.
There’s a picture of her hanging in the Library today.
The fledgling library quickly outgrew the space of Mrs. Harwood’s parlor and it was moved to the second floor of the McCoy Grand Theater, which had been built by Miss Eunice’s brother-in-law, James Curtis McCoy. It was a family thing.
Our earliest memories of the Library were when we accompanied Grandmother to the theater building library and sat in a corner reading children’s books while she mended books in need of repair. In those days books were very precious and volunteers spent time on a Saturday afternoon taping the worn covers and spine, reglueing the end papers, and if necessary restitching the signature segments of the book back together.
Books for the most part came well-fashioned with sturdy covers and were printed on good paper. So they were carefully taken care of and repaired as necessary. This was a time following the Depression and during the war when paper products were limited. A time when nothing was wasted and the tender care given by the library ladies was one of the reason why there are still books around which can date back to the early days of public library service.
As we grew up, so did the library. The next home was located on the site of Miss Mamie Alexander’s photography studio and store. The Library Board went on a campaign to raise money to build a facility and they were more than successful. It was dedicated in 1952 when Governor Okey Patteson came to Moorefield for the occasion.
Twenty-five years later the Library again out grew its home and the Hawse Market building was available. An architect from Washington, DC designed a renovated building which you see now on the corner of Winchester and Main.
[private] Another 40 years have passed and, like Topsy, the Library has continued to grow. The shelves of books expanded in spite of the world wide web offering books online. The Library added computers for use by patrons and movies to rent and they have books available for those online users as well as books on tape. The archives really grew as did the other services provided by the Library.
So a couple of years ago the Board purchased the building next door which had housed Puffenberger’s Jewelry. Plans have been underway since that time to connect the two buildings and renovate the old one.
Much needed space for archives will be added and a reorganization of work areas for the employees is planned as well as the meeting room. We had a sneak peak at the design recently and it’s downright exciting.
One wonderful aspect of this project is the money that was left for the Library by the late Margaret P. Allen. It means that a significant construction phase can be done without having to borrow money and go through major fund raisers.
It doesn’t mean that donations won’t be both appreciated and needed. Things like furniture, chairs, shelving and so on have to be obtained. So for those of you who have appreciated what the Library has provided over the years, please consider a contribution to the refurbishing of the proposed facility.
And keep reading: It’s good for you. [/private]