It only goes to show small towns have gems that sparkle.
Cynthia Thompson always knew there was something special about the Amelia Givin Library in Mount Holly Springs. Its architecture and history make the building at 114 N. Baltimore St. a fixture of the downtown with design features that catch the eye.
“It’s gotten a lot of press over the years,” said Thompson, library director. “We are thrilled to be part of the book. It’s great to be included.”
The oldest public library in Cumberland County is one of 100 libraries across the U.S. featured in “The Library Book” published this April by the Aperture Foundation. Aperture is a nonprofit organization that connects the photo community to audiences either in person, in print or online, according to www.aperture.org.
Several years ago, online photos of the Amelia Givin Library drew the attention of Tom Schiff, an insurance agent from Cincinnati, Ohio.
An amateur photographer for over 60 years, Schiff was touring the country in search of libraries old and new, large and small, to showcase in a book.
“What I saw looked intriguing,” Schiff said Wednesday, recalling the internet research he conducted while on a tour through New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.
The Mount Holly library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two qualities made the building named for a multimillionaire heiress stand out among local Victorian-era buildings.
The brick and brownstone exterior is an example of Richardsonian Romanesque style, named for Henry Hobson Richardson, a pre-eminent U.S. architect of the late 19th century. The library has all the elements of the style in its rusticated or rough stone work, the Romanesque arch, the arched doors and windows, a rounded tower and an ornate, flowery carved fireplace mantle area.
But what drew Schiff to the property were the Moorish Fretwork oak screens that separate the circular library room and two reading rooms from the central foyer. Composed of interlacing spindles, the screens are in a woodworking style that survives in only a few other buildings in the U.S., all private homes.
Schiff could tell by looking online that the people of Mount Holly took pride in their unique library so he called ahead to arrange a visit during a time when the building was closed to the public.
“He wanted to include us as a great example of small town architecture,” Thompson said. Schiff told the library staff it could take years before the images were published.Schiff set up a motorized panoramic camera on a tripod so that the view finder could rotate and the film could advance as it captured 360-degree images of the interior architecture.
“They are stunning,” Thompson said of the photos in in the book. “They highlight the fiction room and the great woodwork.”
“All of the libraries are lovely,” she said. “They are just really beautiful … in a wide variety of styles.”
Other buildings profiled in the book include the Library of Congress, the Philadelphia Free Library, the Geisel Library at University of California San Diego, the Boston Athenaeum, the George Peabody Library in Baltimore and the Portsmouth Public Library in Virginia.