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Center Harbor celebrates library centennial

Library Trustee Helen Heiner looks on as State Senator Deb Reynolds reads a resolution. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
June 30, 2010
CENTER HARBOR — Members of the community gathered for a centennial celebration of the Nichols Memorial Library, a building that was established as the official town library in 1910 and still stands true to this purpose in 2010.

The Centennial Celebration, held outside of the Memorial Library on Plymouth Street in Center Harbor last Saturday afternoon, was dedicated to the town on June 26, 1910, and then honored 100 years later, this past June 26, 2010, for its essential role within the community.

This celebration was also meant to remember those who helped build up this library, and to those in the present who help to maintain the library and allow it to thrive.

The celebration was also marked by the release of the book, "A Viable Service: A Centennial History of the James E. Nichols Memorial Library" by Library Director Jon Kinnaman, along with a reception and historic exhibit within the library afterwards.

During Father David Steffy's invocation, he spoke of the library, and described it as a symbol of the community as a whole.

"The library is a symbol for all that is good and worthy for our town," said Steffy. "The library promotes our individuality and wisdom. This neighborhood is a nice place, a safe place that I feel I belong to. I am greeted not just by books when I enter the library, but by people."

He described the library as a large metropolitan institute in the setting of a small town, and said Center Harbor stands out, because its library is full of rich history, and with books that remind residents of their own history.

Helen Heiner, a member of the Library Board of Trustees, said the founders who started the facility, which now stands as the town library, first filled it with their own collection of books, and asked James E. Nichols, originally of Center Harbor, to help them make this library project possible, which he did.

"This building has remained essentially unchanged, yet our services have grown over the years…We can stay with the modern times in a 100-year-old building," said Heiner, who thanked not only those of the past, but the present, who have contributed to the library and its success over the years.

After Library Trustee Jo Morse read a letter from Executive Councilor Raymond Burton.

Selectman Charley Hanson said his family has related history and understands the value of libraries, since his great grandfather helped form the first library coalition.

"Libraries make information accessible to everyone, and help people become more knowledgeable," said Hanson. "People often comment on our library; you will not find many in New Hampshire as remarkable. This is the hub, the center of our community."

Hanson spoke of his younger years, and said he remembered playing by the same library grounds when he was only a child.

"I think Nichols would be happy to see that the library he built is still doing well. It's a part of what makes Center Harbor special," said Hanson.

Kinnaman presented the history he compiled on the library, and said thanks to the Center Harbor Library Association of the 1900s that helped the library become a reality. A copy of his book has also been sent to the state library, to the Historical Society, and to the Board of Selectmen.

"His generosity and giving back to his home town was very strong. He built what is considered to be one of the most classic libraries in New Hampshire," said Kinnaman.

He said people began to fill up this building with their own collection of books, the first step in making the library what it is today.

Kinnaman performed "Great Dream of Heaven" on guitar, and later finished the event with "America," the same song that ended the dedication 100 years ago.

Library staff and trustees have also compiled a time capsule, filled with a copy of the library's history, the town's history by the Historical Society, a copy of the 1911 catalogue, and the current catalogue, along with press clippings of the event and photographs. These items will be sealed and kept in the library's vault.

Sen. Deborah Reynolds participated in the event and presented a resolution in recognition of the centennial, signed by the President of the Senate. Rep. Fran Wendelboe then presented a declaration on behalf of the House and shared a letter from Gov. John Lynch, expressing his best wishes to the library in its 100th year in the making.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
Garnett Hill
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