Friday, May 27, 2011

Community Landmarks: A tribute to The Morley Public Library et al.

Did You Know:
  • A subscription only library existed in Mentor in 1819.  The public library began in 1903. It was located on Center and Nowlen Streets.
  • A reading room in Fairport existed as early as 1895.  Anne of Green Gables and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm were two of the collection's six books.  The Fairport Public Library began in 1922.
  • Willoughby-Eastlake had two book stations as early as 1900, one in Eastlake, the other in Willowick.
  • A public library came to Wickliffe in 1936.  Kirtland began its public library in 1937.
  • Kindle began in 2007
  • Nook began in 2009
  • iPad began in 2010
  • Borders in Mentor closed as of April 2011.
  • In May 2011, Amazon reported that for the first time ever, they sold more Kindle e-books than print books.
It is that last fact that really caught my eye.  "App's", Facebook, Twitter, and Android are all recent technologies less than a decade old on average.  Social Media has exploded onto the scene.  This year's senior class might be the last group ever to even remember a time before computers or the internet. I browsed history once, sorted in order by publication date, author's name, or a Dewey decimal number.  As a child, I acquired my Funk and Wagnall's encyclopedia set one volume at a time each week my mother went shopping at Fazio's.  A dictionary was a gift in my senior year.  I used it often throughout my Hiram College years.  As a Euclid school teacher, I remembered our library (school and community) as the one place where equality existed, gender, social class and age mattered not, possibilities were limitless, and 'free' was the operative word.  Librarians were people you knew by name.  The building itself was a community cornerstone. The Euclid Public Library had an annex at Central JHS into the mid 80's. In my later years of teaching, encyclopedias were online only.  Computers usurped collection spaces.  School librarians much like the school nurses replaced by an aide.  Some elementary libraries were even closed. That Amazon fact still resonates in my mind.  A library by definition is a building or room containing collections of books...  As newer technologies prevail, free television programming effectively ended two years ago, landlines for phone communication decreased, and free radio programming dwindled.  The library, once the social media place of all generations, is adapting and embracing change.  It is my hope that the community library continues to be the one constant in the annals of history the binds the past (books) with the future (e-books).  LP's gave way to CD's in the early 80's.  Typewriters and ditto machines ran their course by the 90's.  Will books become museum pieces only? Will hard cover books only become collectables or an endangered item??  In today's blog, let's pay tribute to the history that is our community libraries.

                                        The Morley Public Library
                                        184 Phelps Street
                                        Painesville, Ohio

The early origins of the Morley Public Library can be traced back to the local Woman's Christian Temperance Union.  As early as 1878, a reading room and library existed.  The first librarian Mary Dean died in 1898.  Friends of Mary pushed her dream, which was a free public library.  Groups donated books.  The Village of Painesville provided tax refunds.  Businessman Jesse Healy Morley bought the land and erected the library building. Named for his parents, the Morley Public Library opened in 1899.  Julia Erwin served as the first librarian.  Additions came in 1937, 1978 and again recently.  From 1957-2009, a bookmobile service was offered. Its collection includes a community obituary index from the News-Herald and Painesville Telegraph dating back to 1822.  Last year 342,870 visitors stopped in.  Including books, CD's, DVD's and publications, over 689,694 items were circulated.  On your next trip to a library, pause and reflect as you enter. Your visit is a part of the living history, the ties that bind days past with the present and future.

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