By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — Forty years after opening its doors, Lawrence Public Library staff are celebrating.
Tonight at 6, former directors and staff members will gather at the library, 51 Lawrence St., to reminisce about the last four decades. Musician, educator and naturalist John Root of Amherst will perform. Library assistant Alvin Fabian, created a logo with the number 40, featuring four birthday candles sitting atop the zero. Inside the number is a rendering of the library. The logo adorns a banner on the Haverhill Street side of the library. It will also be used for the library’s read-a-thon.
Much has changed in those 40 years. When Maureen Nimmo was named executive director, there was only one computer in the building with no Internet access. When they finally got Internet hook-up, there was always a line of people waiting to use it. Wireless Internet is now available throughout the library.
“Not to exclude books and things you can hold, we’re in the business of getting information to people and have to look toward the future,” she said.
The library opened on June 10, 1973 after engineers recommended in 1965 that the former building on Hampshire and Haverhill streets be condemned. The brownstone was erected in 1892. In 1969 library staff began moving books and furniture from the brownstone built in 1892 because it had a leaky roof, misshapen window frames, tilting floors and a side wall six inches from its foundation.
Construction for the new $2,421,169.00 library began in 1971. Built by Henneberg and Henneberg of Cambridge, the three-story facility is built of cement and brick. It has floor to ceiling plate glass windows and a spiral staircase in the middle of the building
There is an auditorium on the first floor used by community groups and for concerts. The children’s room also on the first floor features an amphitheater.
The Robert Frost Room highlights the life of Lawrence resident and national poet Laureate. The History Room has a plethora of historical artifacts, newspaper clippings and periodicals dating back to the birth of the city.
Nimmo said the library is much more than a place to borrow books. They offer Job Excel, online classes, host exhibits, teas parties, book groups, and the annual Jowdy Geograpical Challenge, author events and concerts. One goal is to form a stronger tie with schools.
“We have the same goal of educating people and recognize the importance of that, but we can’t do it in a vacuum,” Nimmo said.