Harlem officials are planning a celebration to honor a historic home that has served the city as a public library for the past quarter of a century.
A committee has planned an Oct. 18 ceremony to honor the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Harlem Walton Library on the corner of North Louisville and Forrest streets.
The library is the former home of Frank and Helen Walton and was donated to the city in 1974 to be used as a library and city offices.
"I knew Mrs. Walton. She was a teacher and she loved to read the best of books," said Bette Sargent, a committee member. "She was a genius, really. But from when I was little, I remember her, a real fine lady. She always wanted that house to be a library."
Through the efforts of the Harlem Woman's Club, the library, the Harlem branch of the Columbia County library system, was opened Oct. 18, 1981.
The anniversary ceremony is planned for 3 p.m. Oct. 18 at the library at 375 N. Louisville St. The public is invited to attend.
Amanda Cash, the branch manager, said the ceremony will include several speakers including Nancy Morrison, the branch's first librarian, and others explaining the library's history. Cake and other refreshments will be available.
According to a library history compiled by Sargent, more books were read from the Harlem branch than any other Columbia County library. When patrons visiting the library annually rose to 10,000, the then-branch manager said more space was needed, according to Sargent's history.
The library, built as the Walton's home in 1904, was renovated and expanded in 2003 to include an additional 700 square feet and meeting room.
Cash said the library is still a busy one.
"We have a lot, in this new computer-generation age, everybody comes in to use the computer nowadays," Cash said. Book circulation and movie rentals are popular, too.
Children often swamp the library after school to use the computers and do research for school projects, Cash said.
The library offers storytime for preschoolers every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., she said. For more information on the anniversary ceremony, call city hall at (706) 556-0043 or the library at (706) 556-9795.
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