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Emmitsburg Library's celebration focuses on community, continuity

Susan Allen

(12/9) The Emmitsburg Library extended its Saturday hours well into the evening on Dec. 2 as part of its celebration of "100 Years of Service." Library branch administrator Joan Fisher welcomed about 100 area citizens of all ages to the Community Center gymnasium, declaring that the center is "the heart of the community." In an "abbreviated history" of the library delivered later in the program, Fisher noted many occasions since its 1906 founding when the library was saved from closure by the financial support of its friends in Emmitsburg.

During its one hundred years volunteers have donated time, books, furniture, and the rent money when some or all of those things were needed. In turn the library supported the community, initiating children's programs, art classes, and connected with other libraries over the course of the century.

Mayor James E. Hoover and former president of the board of library trustees, Francis Smith, echoed the theme of community support sustaining the library. Smith helped lead the fight to keep the library in Emmitsburg in the early 1990s. He referred to himself as "the missing link between the old library and the new library."

Darrell Batson, director of Frederick County Public Libraries, also praised Emmitsburg for its forthright support of the library, citing in particular the efforts of former mayor William "Doc" Carr. Batson also spoke of his own experiences as a young library patron of a small library. "If you wanted to learn something, you would go to a library." Libraries are themselves communities, he emphasized, communities where today people go to learn via books and computers, and they are "bastions of peace and pondering."

Former Emmitsburg librarian Kate Warthen added a brief personal reminiscence on the library's history, and also recognized Fisher's seven years of fulltime service to the branch with a gift from the Friends of the Library. Fisher is retiring at the end of December.

Shirley Snider of Fairfield, Pa. won the raffle for artist Benjamin Jones' painting of the Community Center, "Lifelong Learning."

The centennial festivities began with music by Home Comfort Band, a folk/bluegrass group who also performed as part of the library's grand re-opening celebration in 2004. John Martin of The Martin Family Singers sang his composition "Celebration," with lyrics adapted for the occasion. The Martins performed seasonal carols with jingle-bell accompaniment by the members of the audience. Everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to the library. Along two walls surrounding the speakers, audience, and musicians were copies of old photographs of the library, its past staff members, trustees, friends, and patrons, members of the community who made the Emmitsburg Library part of their history and legacy.

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