New library welcomes all

Family surrounded Bruce Brown, right, during the ribbon cutting at Bethlehem's new library on Saturday, December 28. Brown's mother was town librarian for a third of a century. His uncle, Arthur Jobin, provided $1 million for construction of the new library. Darin Wipperman/The Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
January 08, 2014
BETHLEHEM — Arthur "Bud" Jobin, and his sister Muriel Brown, would have been proud to see the large crowd visit Bethlehem's new library during an open house on December 28. Jobin provided $1 million to construct the spacious building. Brown served as Bethlehem's librarian for 33 years, retiring at age 79 in 2004.

Although Arthur and Muriel are both gone now, they were very much on the minds of those who attended the open house. The group included the public, elected officials, members of the library board, and a large number of Jobin and Brown family members.

The new library, built on the site of the demolished Maplehurst Hotel, opened on December 23. The site replaces the original library, which occupied a relatively small part of the town hall for 100 years. In addition to benefiting from Jobin's generosity, the library received $50,000 in federal funds to help furnish the building.

During the open house, library trustee Joyce Tucker discussed the new building, which broke ground in May. Tucker said the construction process came together beautifully. "We had really wonderful committees that worked very well together," she said.

Tucker also served as secretary of the library's building committee. She said the effort was "a labor of love" for all those involved.

Additional programs for adults and kids will be one advantage of the library's much larger interior and the surrounding property. Tucker said a night sky program is planned for this month. A telescope donation from the New Hampshire Astronomical Society will help with the effort.

A mural for the children's area is being worked on, Tucker added. The opening to the children's area is marked with two large trees.

Tucker noted an interest in expanding the current onsite parking. She hopes the lot can eventually expand to the north side of the building.

The New Hampshire Room is a small, quiet space off the main library area. Archived material, old newspapers, and some original 19th Century books are located in the room. Some of this old material will be digitized. The old items were stored in a closet at the old library, unused due to lack of space.

Prior to the library's ribbon cutting, Bruce Brown provided some details about his uncle and mother. Jobin was a tail gunner on a B-17 during World War II. Shot down in 1944, he spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.

Jobin's work eventually took him to the West Coast. Although he retired in Nevada, Jobin had fond memories of Bethlehem. His generous donation made the new library possible. He died in 2009.

Muriel Brown provided faithful service as the town librarian until age 79. Her 33 years were fondly recalled during the open house. Current library director Laura Clerkin showed several family members a mirror that included Muriel's name. Clerkin said the family was free to have the mirror. By an overwhelming, informal vote, the family said the library should keep the mirror.

Near the main library entrance, a display case is planned that will include pictures of Muriel Brown and Jobin. Bruce Brown said items now in possession of the Bethlehem Historical Society may also become part of the display.

Brown was very happy with the strong turnout at the open house. He had a suggestion for those who wish to honor the memory of his mom and uncle. "Support your library, and use it," Brown concluded.

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