NH Library Profile

This is the first in what we hope will be a semi-regular series of guest blog posts about the many wonderful libraries in our state. This post on the Amherst Town Library was contributed by Jane Martina. Jane is currently a library assistant and local history collection intern at the Amherst Town Library. She is a junior at Colby-Sawyer College.

Amherst Town Library, ca. 1911-1925
The origins of the Amherst Town Library date back to 1797, when a group of citizens founded the Amherst Library Society. After 32 years, the Amherst Library Society disbanded and their book collection was sold at auction. By 1859, a voluntary group known as the Amherst Library Association created a 300 book collection that resided at Librarian, George K. Walker’s store. In 1871 it was moved to the petit jury room at Town Hall. Twenty-One years later, in 1892, the town of Amherst built their first Library building. At the dedication of the Library on April 30, 1892, the famous artist Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of Amherst’s prominent lawyer and politician, Charles Humphrey Atherton, was presented to the Library. His portrait can still be seen today behind the circulation desk.  By 1907, the Library had outgrown their original building prompting the first renovation.  Upon completion of the renovation on March 9, 1911, the Library had tripled in size and was officially recognized as the Amherst Town Library. Since then the Library has undergone two more renovations in 1971, 1987.  In 2014, new paint and carpet and some different shelving and furniture freshened the library’s interior and make the arrangement better suited for current use.
Amherst Town Library, ca. 2013

Today the Amherst Town Library’s collection has grown exponentially from its early beginnings to 65,630 items, ranging from books/eBooks and magazines to DVDs and audiobooks. Not only has the collection grown in size, but also as the town has grown so has the number of library patrons. Currently, the Amherst Town Library has 5,565 active cards holders. The Amherst Town Library is a member of GMILCS, Inc. a nonprofit corporation of 12 public and academic New Hampshire libraries that share an integrated system. Along with sharing materials, the Amherst Town Library provides a number of services ranging from programs and meeting rooms to public computers/laptops, 3D printing and research assistance.  As the Library changes one thing has remained the same, our commitment to “[providing] all community residents with materials and services for their information, education, and entertainment needs.” Each of our staff members and trustees uphold this mission by providing caring, innovative, quality, and professional services to each individual patron and the community at large.
To find out more about our history, services, collection, and events happening at the Amherst Town Library visit our website www.amherstlibrary.org



FNV: Charles Simic

In 2007 Charles Simic was appointed the Poet Laureate of the United States. Tonight's video is his 2007 presentation at the National Book Festival. He is introduced by Librarian of Congress James Billington.
Charles Simic at the 2007 National Book Festival. 

The plan for this series is to point our readers one Friday each month to an online video featuring New Hampshire authors and their work. If you have a suggestion for a video we should include please let us know in the comments. 


Book of the Week #31

cover image - Enabling ActsEnabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights by Lennard J. Davis (Beacon Press, 2015).

NHPR's The Exchange talked with the author of this book last week and part of the discussion focused on the role of John H. Sununu, who was serving at the time as George H. W, Bush's Chief of Staff, in the fight for the ADA. 
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the widest-ranging and most comprehensive piece of civil rights legislation ever passed in the United States, and it has become the model for disability-based laws around the world. Yet the surprising story behind how the bill came to be is little known.

In this riveting account, acclaimed disability scholar Lennard J. Davis delivers the first behind-the-scenes and on-the-ground narrative of how a band of leftist Berkeley hippies managed to make an alliance with upper-crust, conservative Republicans to bring about a truly bipartisan bill. Based on extensive interviews with all the major players involved including legislators and activists, Davis recreates the dramatic tension of a story that is anything but a dry account of bills and speeches. Rather, it’s filled with one indefatigable character after another, culminating in explosive moments when the hidden army of the disability community stages scenes like the iconic “Capitol Crawl” or an event some describe as “deaf Selma,” when students stormed Gallaudet University demanding a “Deaf President Now!”

From inside the offices of newly formed disability groups to secret breakfast meetings surreptitiously held outside the White House grounds, here we meet countless unsung characters, including political heavyweights and disability advocates on the front lines. “You want to fight?” an angered Ted Kennedy would shout in an upstairs room at the Capitol while negotiating the final details of the ADA. Congressman Tony Coelho, whose parents once thought him to be possessed by the devil because of his epilepsy, later became the bill’s primary sponsor. There’s Justin Dart, adorned in disability power buttons and his signature cowboy hat, who took to the road canvassing fifty states, and people like Patrisha Wright, also known as “The General,” Arlene Myerson or “the brains,” “architect” Bob Funk, and visionary Mary Lou Breslin, who left the hippie highlands of the West to pursue equal rights in the marble halls of DC.

Published for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ADA, Enabling Acts promises to ignite readers in a discussion of disability rights by documenting this “eyes on the prize” moment for tens of millions of American citizens.


Book of the Week #30

The Governor's Lady: A biographical novel of Frances Wentworth, whose husband governed Nova Scotia but could not govern her by Thomas H. Raddall (Doubleday, 1960).
"John Wentworth had made his mark as the popular Governor of rugged New Hampshire just before the American Revolution in spite of growing colonial ferment over British rule - and in spite of his young and restless wife. But then the Revolution exploded into mob violence, and a rabble of backwoods farmers and city merchants drove the Governor back to England.
In the fashionable whirl of London, with its court intrigues and political fortune grabbers, it became evident to all but John that his wife was gambling with his future for her own ends. But it was not until he was sent to a minor post in Nova Scotia that his wife's designs came clear. There, on that sparsely settled peninsula, Frances Wentworth was to employ all her seductive charm to its limits to realize a peculiarly feminine triumph.
It is around this fascinating life, lived in a stormy period of North American history, that Thomas Raddall, author of The Path of Destiny, has written this stirring biographical novel." -Jacket flap

John Wentworth was the last royal governor of New Hampshire.  He was born in Portsmouth, he chartered Dartmouth College, and his portrait hangs in the NH State House.
Thomas Raddall is a Canadian writer of history and historical fiction. The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award is named for him.