Over the past century, the Laceyville Public Library has performed an invaluable service for the borough and surrounding communities.
On Saturday, a reception was held by the library’s Board of Trustees, commemorating it’s 100th anniversary since opening it’s doors in October 1917.
The reception featured cake, punch, and other refreshments, and was highlighted by a visit from state Rep. Karen Boback, who presented the board and librarian Mary Tyler with a proclamation, commemorating the library for its 100 years of service.
Joann Wright, president of the Board of Trustees, said the library was originally housed in a building on state Route 3001, near where the trailer court is now located.
The library moved to its present location at 453 Main Street in 1937, she said, and that was the anniversary they were originally going to commemorate. But going through the records, they discovered the library been established 20 years before, and decided to celebrate its century of existence.
According to information provided at the open house, the seeds of the library’s formation were sewn back in 1910 when several area women - including Mrs. A.H. Harris, Inez Taylor, Mrs. Harry Johnson, Mrs. John Tyler, Ann and Annette Haywood and others - got together and formed the Shakespeare Club. I
In addition to reading such authors as Shakespeare, Goethe, and Browning, members exchanged light fiction books, as well as subscribed to a lending library service. The borough council allowed them to use shelves in the council room as a distribution area for the books.
More and more books were added over the years, to the point where a permanent library became a town project in January 1917. Money for books and expenses was raised via membership dues and subscriptions. In October 1917, the newly formed library officially opened.
All services - including those of the librarian - were performed by volunteers.
The library grew through the years, and by 1932, plans were made to construct a new building.
The project was completed five years later, at a cost of $1,655, using Works Progress Administration workers. Materials and furnishings were donated by local businesses and individuals.
Through the years, Wright explained, the library has been available to many local organizations and clubs who need a meeting place to conduct their activities. Support groups who provide assistance for those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction used the library, she said. Crafting groups also use the library’s facilities.
“Lots of volunteers,” Wright said about what makes the Laceyville Public Library run so successfully.
The only paid person on staff is the librarian. About 16 volunteers, both from the Board of Directors, as well as the Friends of the Library, help out at any given time with various projects.
One regular patron of the library is Bonnie Baker, who said has been using the facility since she was a young girl. The Laceyville elementary school and high school did not have a library, so the public library filled an important gap in her life.
Baker recalled her mother, the late Neva Crisman, reading such classics as ‘Lassie Come Home,’ and ‘Black Beauty’ to her. Her favorite though was ‘Heidi.’
“I remember my mother stopping at the end of a chapter in which Heidi was in a bad spot,” Baker recalled. “I asked what was Heidi going to do. My grandfather, who was sitting in the corner, spoke up and said if I was quiet and asked, I could find out what Heidi was up to.”
Books seem to be less important to children these day, because they only seem to be interested in those “digital things,” Baker said. But books will always play vital part to Laceyville as well as all other communities.
Tyler confirmed that the number of people coming into the library has fallen off lately.
“The younger kids are interested in electronics, while the older people are getting their books off Kindle,” she said.
But although only housed in one room, the library’s 9,000 volumes - including children’s books - continue to provide information and entertainment to the community.
Wright said that the library recently incorporated a computer with Internet service, and patrons have been taking advantage of it. Other services provided by the library include books through inter-library loans, as well as the sale of used books.