Happy 97th Anniversary, Handley Regional Library!
Thank you for all the years of library service to the area. Each year in the library’s countdown to 1913 and its 100th anniversary an important person or persons are honored.
This year on August 11 at 7 p.m. a panel will discuss the donors throughout the library's history since Judge John Handley. The program is free and will be held in the Handley Library auditorium.
Panelists are Kay Wise, who will discuss Nancy Larrick Crosby; Glenene Brown, former Friends executive director; Rebecca Ebert, archivist of Stewart Bell Jr. Archives; and Trish Ridgeway, director of Handley Regional Library.
This discussion is about the stories of the benefactors who have made our libraries what they are today—that is, after Judge Handley gave the funds to build the first library, Handley Library. The library trust was not enough. Benefactors donated and granted money to purchase new books, help with an addition to Handley Library (1979), build and furnish libraries in Stephens City (2001) and Berryville (2009), and renovate Handley Library (2001). An archives and a children’s room were created, furnished, and staffed in the new addition that opened in 1979 in Handley Library.
The library system has had famous and illustrious donors, not-so-famous benefactors, and occasionally anonymous gifters, but always generous people who wanted the best for the area’s libraries. The buildings, books, and art collections have all benefited from magnanimous donors throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
Many donations, large and small, have gone to the Funds for Books Campaign. Major contributors have been Senator Harry F. Byrd Jr., The Winchester Star, Nancy Larrick Crosby, donation in memory of Dr. and Mrs. William Green Way Sr., John P. and Marjorie S. Lewis, Harry H. Lynch, the estate of Harold Edgar Briggs, and the estate of Jeffrey L. Webster.
Funds were given to create a combination art-exhibition room and multi-purpose lounge to be dedicated to the memory of the late Harry K. Benham, lawyer, civic leader, and first chairman of the library board. The Benham Room in Handley Library’s lower level was opened in 1963.
The Technology Corridor at Handley Library was donated in memory of Dr. Monford D. and Lucy L. Custer Dr. Custer served on the library board from 1963 to 1980 and his contributions helped complete the 1979 renovation.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan left a memorial trust for books and bookplates.
James L. Bowman gave the funds needed to complete the construction of the Mary Jane and James L. Bowman Library in Stephens City.
Nancy Larrick Crosby, the children’s author, editor, and teacher, gave us the Nancy Larrick Children’s Room at a time when expansion and guidance were needed. She had been donating every year toward the 1979 addition. Her mother donated funds for the children’s furniture. The contribution form the Nancy Larrick estate put the Library Endowment fund over one million dollars.
Louis Baker provided funds in his estate for the archives—furnishings, and a halon fire-protection system. Stewart Bell Jr. included the archives in his estate as a remainder trust so area treasures will continue to be kept archivally, and the public will have access to them.
More recently, donors furnished a wing of the new Clarke County government building for a new library. In 2009 this library moved from overcrowded conditions into the new location.
Each year the Friends of the Handley Regional Library use their funds to support library programs. In 2009-2010 the Friends will give over $52,000 to support the library.
Trish Ridgeway will show some of the interesting gifts during the panel discussion. During August, display cases in the Handley Library rotunda and outside of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives will show some of the benefactors and their gifts.
It is difficult to name all of the many donors who have given to Handley Regional Library through the years. The community benefited from many large and small gifts.
Unusual donations such as art pieces, china, which had perhaps belonged to George Washington's sister, swords, Chinese artifacts, a meat platter, trees and boxwood plants, are some of the more interesting items the library has received over the years..
Who will be the future caretakers of this wonderful community resource? Handley Regional Library is in need of library lovers who will put the library in their wills, monthly and yearly budgets for the endowment and operating funds, and holiday lists to remember and honor loved ones with the gift of books. And members of the public can begin right now by purchasing a ticket to a fundraiser, a murder mystery theatre at Handley Library on August 7 at 7 p.m.. Appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, wine, and soft drinks will be served. The play is exciting and hilarious. Tickets sell for $75 each. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
Over the next three years, the 100th Anniversary Committee has planned a series of centennial events that will tell the history and architecture of Handley Library and library service to this region. Each year the library will offer tours, a special centennial lecture with a noted speaker, exhibitions, and other fun events, such as films with Magic Lantern Theater and readings with Winchester Little Theatre to emphasize periods through which the library has operated. The culmination of the years of celebration will be the production of a book, a DVD, and a grand gala in August of 2013.
Handley Library (HL), 100 W. Piccadilly St., Winchester, VA 22601, 540-662-9041 x 16
Bowman Library (BL), 871 Tasker Road, Stephens City, VA 22655, 540-869-9000 x 215
Clarke County Library (CCL), 101 Chalmers Court, Berryville, VA 22611, 540-955-5144