Wednesday, May 12, 2010

mark skinner library

The Mark Skinner Library in Manchester, Vermont is a beautiful library in a truly beautiful town. Manchester sits in the valley east of Mount Equinox (altitude 3848 ft.), and the mountain views surround the town. The town is home to The Equinox, a lovely old world inn, the Northshire Bookstore, and lots of shopping outlets, spas, golf, and foliage in the autumn.

This lovely little book was printed for the July 7, 1897 opening of the new Mark Skinner Library, and given out to the guests and attendees. I was presented with this copy by the director of the library as a gift for traveling to see her, and her library, as we prepared our proposal for the design services for their much needed additions and renovations project. The official title of little volume appears to be "The Opening of the Mark Skinner Library". Google has actually scanned this volume, see it here.

This book is essentially a program, and a record of the day's events for the grand opening celebration. The book was printed by R. R. Donnelley and Sons at the Lakeside Press, Chicago, under the supervision of Herbert S. Stone and Company. The book is cloth bound in green linen, measures 7-inches by 4 1/2-inches, with 71 pages. The head bolts are unopened and the leaves have a fore-edge deckle. A number of black and white photo plates are pasted into the body. The plates include: a portrait of Mark Skinner, with an image of his signature and the words 'Yours Truly' beneath, various photographs of the building's interior and exterior, and a plan of the main floor.

The building was actually built by Frances Skinner Willing, in memory of her father, Mark Skinner, and has actually spend most of its history as a private, subscription library. Only since 2003 have the Manchester voters have supported the library, in part, making it more of a public library, as we traditionally think of them. In addition to Frances Skinner Willing's generous gift, the library has also received two other substantial donations in its past, from two separate, unmarried women. Sounds like a wonderful tradition.

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