Lanier Library featured in ?America?s Membership Libraries?

Published 1:52 pm Thursday, January 10, 2008

A newly published book, &uot;America&squo;s Membership Libraries,&uot; contains a chapter of particular interest to the local area.

As one of the nation&squo;s limited number of membership libraries, the Lanier Library in Tryon was selected for inclusion in this book.

The unique history of the Lanier Library also led to its inclusion in the book&squo;s preface, written by Nicholas Barker, former Deputy Keeper of the British Library and Chairman of the Committee of the London Library and editor of &uot;The Book Collector.&uot;

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Published by Oak Knoll Press, &uot;America&squo;s Membership Libraries&uot; is introduced by its editor, Richard Wendorf, and includes a discussion of the origin of libraries in general and particularly subscription or membership libraries.

One of the first such libraries, the Library Company of Philadelphia, was founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin. According to Wendorf, the founding of at least three of America&squo;s subscription libraries can be traced back to the Library Company.

The essays contained in &uot;America&squo;s Membership Libraries&uot; are arranged according to each institution&squo;s date of origin, with the Lanier Library, established in 1889, being in 15th position.

Beautifully illustrated with photographs by Chris Bartol, the Lanier Library essay takes the reader back to the earliest days of the library, when the three LeDuc sisters, Miss Lucy, Miss Mary and their married sister Elizabeth Boardman, met with some of their neighbors and decided, &uot;This town needs a library.&uot;

The Lanier Club, as it was called in those days, had several different homes before the current structure was built in 1905. The building has undergone several additions and some remodeling, while continuing to maintain its original Arts-and-Crafts style.

The promotion of education, community service and private and public programs have been important functions of membership libraries, and the Lanier Library is no exception. Members of the Lanier Club ‐ the name was changed to the Lanier Library Association, Inc. in 1956 ‐ worked hard to improve their community. Their focus ranged from recommendations to city officials regarding a cemetery, to publication of pamphlets informing the public about tuberculosis, to working to improve the education of the area&squo;s outlying population.

Programs over the past century have featured such persons as Margaret Morley, Emma Payne Erskine, Elia Peattie, Dr. Edward Emerson, William Gillette, Margaret Culkin Banning, Wilma Dykeman and Celeste Holm. More recently, the library has instituted a series of luncheon programs each month, featuring presentations by authors, historians, musicians and curators.

One event featured former Palm Beach Post newspaper features writer Paul Reid, a Tryon resident. Reid discussed his ongoing efforts in the process of bringing to completion William Manchester&squo;s third and final volume in the biographical series on Winston Churchill, &uot;The Last Lion.&uot;

While acknowledging and maintaining a connection with the past, the Lanier Library has kept pace with current technologies.

A computer with Internet connection is available to members, while a separate computer system maintains the library&squo;s extensive catalog of more than 23,000 book titles, more than 60 periodicals, and numerous books on tape and CD, videos and DVDs, and music tapes and CDs. Many libraries have been completely computerized, but the Lanier still maintains a card catalog, which is preferred by many of its members.

The Lanier Library, located at 72 Chestnut Street in Tryon, offers family memberships for a modest fee, and extends an invitation to become a part of a tradition that began in Colonial

America ‐ -membership in a subscription library.

&uot;America&squo;s Membership Libraries&uot; is available for checkout to library members and for purchase to both members and nonmembers.

The library is open Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday and Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

For more information about the Lanier Library and its programs, call 828-859-9535, or visit the library&squo;s website,

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