Getting to Know You: Lane Memorial Library, Hampton

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Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2003 newsletter of the New Hampshire Library Trustee Association

By Carol A. Theoharous

Main entrance to the libraryOld front entrance
Side view of library used as main door -- Front entrance of library

The first public librarian in Hampton, Simeon Albert Shaw, stayed there for fifty years. When his great-granddaughter was hired as the present librarian, she was asked, "Do you plan to stay here for the next fifty years?" "No," she replied, but they hired her regardless. Catherine Redden has been librarian for a mere eleven years and the library is a beehive of activity that reflects well on her emphasis on customer service.

Patrons browsing the video shelf
Interior of library

Lane Memorial Library in Hampton started out in 1857 as the Hampton Social Library and became the Hampton Library Association when it moved to a room of the town hall. From 1881 to 1967, only two librarians served the small, yet fast-growing library. In 1908, a committee was formed to request funds from Andrew Carnegie for a new building. His stipulation for donating $5,000 for that purpose was that $500 per year be appropriated for the support of the library. The citizens traditionally appropriated $250 for the support and refused to accept the additional drain on their resources. Citizens of Hampton were delighted when Howard Garland Lane, a Hampton citizen, offered to build a new library in memory of his father, Joshua A. Lane who had just died. On December 14, 1910, the dedication ceremony of the $5,336 building was held with a collection of 3,500 books.

View of the children's room
Children's Room

Hampton is a seacoast town with a population of 15,000 that swells to 150,000 during summer weekends. A 3-month library card is available for summer visitors. Many young people from around the world, who work in area hotels and restaurants for the summer, use the computers in the library to stay in touch with family. They come by rollerblade, bicycle, and walking- before, between, and after their shifts. A pinned, world map on the wall denotes their respective homelands. All are invited to an International Reception at the end of the summer. The library hires someone who speaks a second language just for the summer. On Monday nights, people from town who want to practice Spanish get together with those who want to learn English and coach each other.

Three library trustees with the director
Seated in the New Hampshire Room
are Judy Geller, Dot Gooby
Catherine Redden, and Lenore Patton

Connie Stone, newsletter editor, and I met with Catherine Redden, Librarian, Lenore Patton, Chair of Trustees, Judy Geller, Trustee, and Dot Gooby, Alternate Trustee and President of the Friends group, in the New Hampshire Room, part of the original library. Busts of Mark Twain and Robert Frost sit on the mantle over the fireplace. It is a bright, spacious room for meetings and genealogical research.

Bill Teschek backstage in the technical services area of the library
Bill Teschek "backstage" at the library.

Lane Memorial Library is very active in genealogical research. Bill Teschek, Assistant Librarian and historian, will be conducting a workshop on that subject in conjunction with the Hampton Historical Society. Anyone with a Hampton library card has online access to the most extensive genealogical websites, AncestryPlus and HeritageQuest. There are four computers available for 15 minutes to visitors without a card who need to access a computer.

The Friends of the Library (approximately 60 members) is creating a newsletter. "I think all librarians don't toot their horns enough", laughs Catherine Redden. "We think we've done an article and told everyone, but we have a new audience all the time". The library has services for shut-ins, museum passes, art prints for circulation, many children's programs including story time, pajama parties, and puppet shows, workshops, educational programming, and other events and services requested by the community.

Trustees surveyed likes and needs of library users and a random segment of the community to help determine the direction of renovations. They plan to make more efficient use of the present space, interior and exterior, to increase the size of the Children's Library, and add to the Reference Department.

Catherine Redden in her office
Catherine Redden at desk

Helpfulness and friendliness of the staff is a favorable comment from users of the library who send many thank you notes in appreciation for customer service. All of the staff works collaboratively. "I can't do it without them." Catherine Redden praises each member of the staff. Everything is "team". Twice a year, the staff and volunteers are recognized at a reception in their honor. There are 20 to 25 volunteers in winter and summer.

It's easy to see why the library is as successful as it is when one observes the harmonious relationship between trustees and library director. Trustees advice: In each library a period of orientation should take place for new trustees; three nights of two hours each, to learn library and town policies, trustee responsibilities, names of town administrators, names of schools, and a general feet-wetting.

They are so proud of their staff and trustees that they wished to see each name recognized. The following is a list of all staff members and trustees. Full-time staff: Catherine Redden (Director), Bill Teschek (Assistant Director), Jeanne Gamage (Adult Services), Jean Keefe (Cataloguer), Joanne Mulready (Children's Assistant), Stan Olson (Reference Services), Cindy Stosse (Children's Services). Part-time: Alice Alford, Barbara Chapman, Elli Cyr, Shelby Edwards, Diane Karpman, Sandra Kent, Linda Leubner, Mary Twomey. Trustees: Lenore Patton, Sara Casassa, Judy Geller, Mary Lou O'Connor, Barbara Rallis, Alternates: Dorothy Gooby, Mary Lou Heran. "Volunteer extraordinaire": John Holman.

Dorothy M. Little, 1913-1988

Dorothy M. Little

The Dorothy M. Little Room at the Lane Memorial Library is used primarily for the senior citizens who, at present, don't have a center. It is in honor of "Mrs. Library" whose testimonial below describes her generosity and devotion to community. Only those who have established a recognized commitment to library service throughout the state have received the NHLTA Award, presented in her honor. Previous recipients include: Dorothy Holden, Terry Knowles, John Barrett, and Lillian Edelmann.

This year, NHLTA is honoring special people who have devoted time and talent to the betterment of libraries in their communities. A banquet will be held on October 22, 2003, 6:30PM, at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester to recognize award winners for Trustee of the Year, Librarian of the Year, Library of the Year, and two Special People Awards.

Affectionaly known throughout New Hampshire as "Mrs. Library," "Dot" Little came to Hampton in 1951 with her husband John and two sons, Craig and Brian. She quickly became known to many in the community, especially subsequent newcomers, through her work as a "Welcome Wagon" hostess for the Seacoast area. Her public involvement in education began with her terms as a member of the Hampton School Board from 1957 to 1963. She was one of the founders and a long-time director of the Winnacunnet Scholarship Foundation.

Mrs. Little served as the first librarian of the Hampton schools from 1963 to 1966 when she became Librarian of the Supervisory Union 21 Instructional Material Center until she retired in 1978.

From 1966 until 1988, Mrs. Little was a Lane Memorial Library Trustee, during that period serving seven years as chairwoman. She was an active member of the Friends of the Library, a member of the Seacoast Librarian and Media Specialists (SLAMS), and for over ten years she held various offices in the New Hampshire Library Trustees Association, including its presidency from 1982 to 1984.

The Hampton Women's Jaycees named Mrs. Little their 1977 Woman of the Year in recognition of her educational contributions to the community. A scholarship in her name has been donated by the New Hampshire Library Association, and the New Hampshire Library Trustees Association presents the Dorothy M. Little annual award dedicated to those who have promoted library excellence in their community and throughout the state.

The Dorothy M. Little Memorial Room in the Lane Memorial Library was established in August of 1990.

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