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Pillsbury Free Library
Serving Warner, NH since 1892
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Pillsbury Free Library » History of Library Services at the Pillsbury Free Library

History of Library Services at the Pillsbury Free Library

Milestones in Library Services

In 1891 the Library held about 4500 books, the gift of Mr. Pillsbury’s
wife Margaret, and his son Charles, founder of the Pillsbury Company. Books
were kept in the ‘closed stacks’ behind the librarian’s desk, and had to be
requested by number from a printed booklet called a “catalogue”. No one under
the age of twelve was allowed to borrow books.

The remaining area of the upper level held a large reading table in front
of a granite fireplace, and a few reference books. Downstairs was an
unfinished area designated for the future storage of historical materials,
and a large furnace room with a rough wooden door through which wood was
brought in. A tiny metal staircase connected the two levels.

Significant dates

1899 Minimum age of 12 abolished.

1900 15 oak and brass cabinets made and sent out to the schools.
Two times each year they were brought back and books changed.

1902 PFL was 14th in NH for total number of books.
Branch libraries at Melvin and Davisville.

1910 No more shelf space: new bookshelf added.

1913 Trustees bemoaned lack of Reader space in Town report,
added a cabinet for “little folks” in back of stacks.

1916 Two more bookstacks built.

1921 Card catalog introduced (replaced booklets and supplements).
Branches at Melvin Mills, Davisville, Roby and Burnt Hill Sch.

1926 Children’s table added to reading room.

1935 Books loaned to CCC camp residents.

1950’s Half of basement renovated for use as Historical display room.
Music collection added and listening area set up.
More shelves built in reading room.

1960’s Shelves built and placed in furnace room for storage.
Movie Projector donated by Women’s Club.

1974 Trustees mentioned need for an addition in Town Report.

1977 Children’s room opened in place of Historical room.

1978/9 Photocopier purchased for public use.

1980 Substantial bequest from Mary Martin for building addition.
Filmstrip viewer and later, a projector, added for storytimes.

1986 First computer bought with bequest from Frances Emerson.
Buy a book, Remove a book. No shelf space unfilled, no room.

1990 Over 14,000 books, 600 recordings, 64 magazine subscriptions,
174 filmstrips. Access to other books via Interlibrary loan using computer searches for books: 200 000 titles in NH. 1300 borrowers, 180 visitors per week, reference services.
Storytimes three times a week for children, delivery to homebound.
Special programs, eg Oral History Project, Crafts workshops.

1988 began developing a plan for a major building addition, and began fundraising. by 1993 raised 1/3 of funds needed with many small events and a donation drive. Mary Martin bequest now equal to 1/3 of funds needed thanks to double digit interest rates.

1991-1993 Asked for funds by Bond at Town meeting for addition. Approved in March 1993. Construction began in April 1993 and was completed by December.

1994 Opened new area with minimal furnishings in January. Dedication ceremony held in April. Computers purchased with WPI donation.

1996 Extended open hours by adding 2 hours to Saturday schedule.

1997 Began replacement of Card Catalog with computerized catalog. Created a website for the library. Public access to the Internet provided.

1998 Macintosh computer donated by 4-H foundation for use of students.

2001 Began Literacy tutoring program. Purchased computer projector for teaching / training, with donations from Merrimack County Telephone Company. Warner Power donated a laptop.

2003? Extended hours by opening at 1 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

2006 Brick chimney built for heat system to replace power vent, and new more efficient boiler installed.

2007 Pillsbury Free Library selected as 2006 NH Library of the Year by NH Library Trustees Association. Celebratory program at Town Hall with readings by Poet Laureate Maxine Kumin, McArthur Grant recipient naturalist/author David Carroll, and children’s book author David Elliott drew 150 people. Open house with other local authors followed at the library with refreshments.

2007 Added Monday hours (1 to 5 pm) March 12 – new outdoor sign. Added young adult area shelving for graphic book collection.

2007 Added Downloadable Audio Books and wireless Internet service, upgraded Internet access to DSL (1 MB).

2008 Installed emergency backup generator. (Just in time to function as a Warming Center during the 8-day December 2008 Ice Storm regional power outage). Added more shelves in old reading room for audio and video materials using Ellsworth Stevens Bequest. Installed automatic door-opener on lower entry door and hold-open arms on Meeting room doors. Replaced copier with one that does automatic sheet feed and double sided printing.

2009 Purchased teen area seating (foam Bean-bags) with Edna “Shep” Bartlett memorial donations. Commissioned an energy audit. Installed programmable thermostats and did air sealing to cut energy costs. Purchased a new computer for the Director’s Office. Upgraded to 3 MB DSL

2010 Surprise celebration of Library Director Nancy Ladd’s 25th year as Director was held at Town Hall.  Replaced all copper flashing on original building and re-pointed mortar on old chimney and front granite entry.  Completed more air sealing and installed a window quilt on the Children’s room exit. Repainted and rearranged the Frank Maria Meeting Room. Added a Keurig coffee machine. Purchased 5 replacement public computers and a laptop with Windows 7, and a wireless public printer. Added a web accessible catalog and an online language learning resource (Mango). Replaced all six phones with a used set, and added lateral files to Director’s office. The Jim Mitchell Park was opened on the West side of the library, with a walkway connecting the Library and the bookstore.

2011 Created new website using WordPress. Upgraded to 5 MB DSL Internet. Subscribed to Ancestry Library (because the State no longer can fund it). Added cabinets and a counter and additional electric circuit to the Maria Room kitchen, and insulating window shades to Meeting Room. Purchased a 50″ plasma TV with funds from Fall Foliage Festival and other donations. Larry Sullivan published “Nineteenth Century Libraries of Warner, New Hampshire”, which details the history and architectural features of the Pillsbury Free Library.

2013 Joined the nhaisLOCAL collaborative group of NH libraries to provide a modern online catalog / Integrated Library System based on KOHA open source software.

Library Addition Building Project Milestones

1974 Trustees discussed need for addition.

1980 Mary Martin Building Funds created by bequest.

1986 Ten-year plan : Library below accepted standards for size.

1987 Master Plan survey: 48% thought library addition important, although 80% thought Library services good or fair (53% G). Trustees formed long range planning subcommittee.
NH State Library Consultant: need more space for all uses!

1988 NHSL Building consultant: estimated size of addition 5000 sf.  Building Committee formed: hired Building consultant, who gave same estimate.

1989 Wrote building program statement but reduced size to 3500 sf per level due to concerns about looks and costs. Received $5000 from Fall Foliage Festival for Architect’s fees.

1990 Hired Architect (Rudy Houk, Architects Planning Team, Concord). Preliminary plans developed : back to 5000 sf addition (needed).

1991 “Century” Fundraising Campaign Began. First vote at Town Meeting ($300,000 bond: failed). Production of “Dickens’ Christmas Carol” by Steve Daigle, et al.

1992 Second Town Meeting Vote. ($275,000 bond: failed to get 2/3). Modification of design (Main Street side ramp and new entry arch eliminated).

1993 Third Town meeting vote on addition: $200,000 Bond, plus over $300,000+ in hand. Passed on recount (needed 2/3 vote). Construction began in April (site work donated by J.D. Hanna). Closed for renovation work, Sept-Oct (6 weeks). Books and furnishings stored in Flanzers’ Red Horse Tavern barn across street.

1994 Moved into new section in January. Furniture construction and purchases began.
Purchased 2 public use computers (IBM clone 486’s) with funds from WPI and Merrimack Co. Telephone.

1995 More furniture construction and purchasing. Purchased 35″ tv and VCR. Began landscape improvements (trees).

1996 Refinished floor and wall paneling of old upper level. (Funds from FFF). Installed Vista window film on skylight to cut heat/glare.

2003 or 4? Installed 4 wall /ceiling air conditioners, partially funded by warrant article.

2007 Built Chimney and installed new boiler.

2008 Installed automatic door opener at lower level and installed generator for backup power.

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