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Area patrons love their library

July 30, 2012

Photo by Victoria Stanish The St. Marys Public Library, shown here, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Editor's note: This is the fourth and last in a series of articles celebrating the St. Marys Public Library's 100 years of service to area residents.

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Whether they are there to be educated, informed, or entertained, both former and current area residents have fond memories of the St. Marys Public Library.
Now in its 100th year serving the community, the library first opened in the town hall on July 2, 1912 as the St. Marys Free Public Library. It was established by a group called the Literary Circle who felt the town needed a library.
The town has been grateful for their library ever since. For many, their love of the library developed at an early age, and several people shared their memories on the Facebook page "If you grew up in St. Marys..."
"The Summer Reading Program was a lifesaver for me growing up! I loved checking out the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, as well as anything by Judy Blume! Thank you for the escape!," said Stacie Thornhill.
"I remember going to 'story hour' there, held in the basement. My Mom, JoAnn Stauffer, was one of the readers," said René Stauffer, now a resident of Charleston, S.C.
Connie Deshaies, now of Phoenix, N.Y., also has fond memories of story hour and was an avid reader as a child.
"I remember going to story hour in the basement, too, and being very annoyed when I got my library card that I could only take out two books. I would read them on the way home and want more," Deshaies said.
"I remember being president of the Library Board and having to wonder whether buying a $12 calculator was too big an expenditure," said area historian and photographer Ray Beimel.
In the early 1920s, area physician Dr. Eben Russ donated his home on Center Street to use as a public library. The contents of the library were moved from the town hall to his former home and the building was renamed the Eben Russ Memorial Library. That building was razed in the 1960s, the community made various donations to a building fund and a new structure opened in 1966 as the St. Marys Public Library. Over the years, many programs have been held at the library in addition to the very popular children's events and activities.
"They also held a hunter safety class there. I have no idea why I was in that class. I remember the guy giving me the stick to hold and not the gun! I think I was about 10," Stauffer said.

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