York Town Square

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Part II: York, Pa.’s, Martin Library observing 75 years in the reading business

Milton D. Martin, an avid reader, believed reading was the path to success. Upon the wagonmaker’s/carriagemaker’s death in 1912, Martin bequeathed $125,000 to establish a public library in York, Pa. The Guardian Trust Company as executor followed his wishes and appointed John E. Baker, Vincent K. Keesey, D. F. Lafean, Atreus Wanner and Allen C. Wiest as directors of the Martin Library Association. Through sound management and added contributions the endowment grew, and on Halloween eve of 1935, the Martin Memorial Library was opened. Today, it’s known as Martin Library, and it’s celebrating its 75th anniversary. Also of interest: Part I: York, Pa.’s, Martin Library observing 75 years in the reading business and Old Martin factory to become housing complex and York’s Martin Library’s old doors tell a story and York County libraries offer serendipity – and have done so for decades.

Presidents of Martin Library over the past 75 years-plus represent a long list of leading community contributors.
One of these past presidents, Frances Wolf, provided interesting insight into where the library is going: … .

Electronic devices, not shelves, will store books. That will make books “even more precious, to be handled with great care and reverence.”
Another past president, Chrysta Stine, paints this intriguing picture in words: A library is a “powerful information engine; a sociologically significant force for the betterment of our community.”
The library, in the anniversary spirit, provided the information above, plus brief bios on past library board presidents, going back before the library even opened

JOHN E. BAKER (presided 1916-1940)

First president of the Martin Library Association John E. Baker has held that post the longest, serving well over two decades. Baker was the leading force in the construction of Martin Library and hired its first librarian, Katherine Shorey, as director from 1935-1970. Baker’s endowment supplied funds to purchase books, and he secured additional support from the family of Martha Landes, Milton Martin’s wife. The Brownstone Building, now part of the Martin Library facility, was home to David Small who was in business with the Baker relations.

VINCENT K. KEESEY (presided 1941-1943)

Vincent Keesey was actively involved in Milton Martin’s dream of establishing a public library in York and gladly accepted the position as president of the Board of Directors after the long term of John E. Baker came to a close. Descended from a long line of lawyers and gentleman farmers, Keesey retained his interest in farming and land development. He saw the library through the first years of the world war, awaiting more stable times for the library’s growth.

GEORGE H. WHITELEY, JR. (presided 1944-1967)

The son of George Henry and Ida Osborne Whiteley, George H. Whiteley, Jr. began working for the family’s dental supply company (now DENTSPLY International) in 1911 and became company president in 1949. During this time Whiteley served on the first Board of Directors of Martin Library and as president in 1944. Presiding over two decades, Whiteley secured local municipal funding for the library, achieved the appointment of Martin Library as one of the first District Libraries in the state, and enabled the library to serve students of the York City School District with its popular bookmobile.
WILLIAM H. BAKER (presided 1968-1971)
In 1955, William Baker and his sister, Salome Baker Stauffer, honored their father John Baker, first president of the Martin Library Association, by establishing a Children’s Wing of the Martin Memorial Library. Plans for the much needed addition included a 50 by 60 foot structure extending from the original building north along Queen Street. Breaking ground in 1955, the new addition featured a large picture window beyond an oval pool with an attractive bronze statue and fountain. The new Children’s Library proved immensely popular, serving 4,500 children its first year. William H. Baker was appointed to the Martin Library Board of directors and served as its president from 1968 to 1971.
BEAUCHAMP SMITH (presided 1972-1977)
Descended from a long line of successful inventors and business people, Beauchamp Smith continued the family legacy with visionary contributions to the fields of hydraulic engineering and manufacturing. Under his board presidency the Library exceeded an annual circulation of 300,000 items and the York County Library System was created. The Friends of Martin Library was formed and Smith helped secure support for the libraries from the York County Commissioners. Film and record collections grew and the Library became a meeting place for a record number of all ages and interests. Smith provided a bequest in his estate plan that continues to provide operational funds to the Library today.
LAVERE SENFT (presided 1978-1982)
As board member of Martin Library, Lavere Senft served in various capacities for many years. Elected president in 1978, Senft engaged the trustees in finding a successor for the retiring executive director. Under his leadership, the Board offered the position to the person who holds the job today, William H. Schell. Late in his career Senft was chosen by the Library’s Honors Committee, establishing a named fund for the purchase of books. Senft encouraged others to include the library in their estate plans, and understood the need to pass the leadership torch to younger generations, ensuring relevance and responsiveness for library users and supporters.
EDWARD ELIAS (presided 1982)
Edward Elias was head of the Penn State York Campus when that institution was coming into its own and he brought leadership skills and expertise to Martin Library when he served briefly as president of the Martin Library Board. He helped shape a stronger, more cohesive board and created an associate board membership to retain members whose terms had expired. Elias helped craft the bylaws for the associate board, providing added depth and wisdom to benefit the library and community in countless ways.

GLENN BAUBLITZ (presided 1982-1984)

As Board Chair for two years Glenn Baublitz was a bibliophile of the first rank. With an eye on innovative programming, he encouraged Martin Library to partner with Penn State York to celebrate the books and films of John O’Hara, relative to an instructor on campus. As head of a leading advertising agency, Baublitz helped community nonprofits such as Martin Library benefit from sound marketing ideas. Glenn connected strong supporters to the library, recruiting Tom Wolf and Bill Simpson to serve as co-chairs of its 2002 capital campaign, raising over a million dollars for a 10,000 square-foot addition. His passion for the library evoked progressive strategies still felt today.
WILLIAM SIMPSON (presided 1985-1988)
Newly employed by the Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff Company, Bill Simpson couldn’t wait to check out the library just across the street from his office. With his first visit he wasn’t disappointed, and quickly his interest in the library grew. Now a long-time library supporter, Simpson served as Board Chair and as co-chair of two separate capital campaigns. Lending philanthropic support and counsel, Bill recognizes the library’s important role in offering learning opportunities to young and old alike. He understands that books, DVDs, computers and librarians motivate a positive future. Simpson envisions Martin Library will continue to strengthen the lives of the people it serves.
FRANCES WOLF (presided 1988-1989)
As the library’s first female President, Frances Wolf connected Martin Library to numerous community agencies to achieve benefits on all sides. She supported partnerships between Martin Library and the York City Schools and with the York YWCA, among others. She encouraged the Friends of Martin Library to provide additional adult programming. With her husband Tom, she shepherded the Library through its first key expansion in 30 years and provided leadership that increased annual circulation to a half million items for the first time in its history.

WILLIAM GROFT (presided 1989-1992)

As a banker with a good eye for numbers, William Groft had skills well suited for Martin Library. During his presidency of the Board, the Friends of Martin Library membership grew to over 600 and the number of library cardholders increased to 50,000. The Library Shop was opened during Groft’s tenure, and he inspired author visits and a summer reading program that produced far-reaching effects. Knowing the value of volunteers, Groft encouraged the Library to increase its volunteer base to more than 100 active recruits. The ability to control costs while building collections and services was core to Groft’s pursuits.
JAN HERROLD (presided 1995-1996)
Jan Herrold understood the unique and important role the library serves the community, and early on brought her young children to Martin to experience story times, books and the joy of reading. With her involvement on a variety of nonprofit boards and her service to education, Jan’s leadership as president of board complemented her interests perfectly. Knowing the library as a place to find information, Jan was a catalyst in expanding the reach of library resources for a variety of educational purposes. Influenced by this approach, Martin Library remains an extraordinary resource, and an ever more vital part of community life in York.
PETER BRUBAKER (presided 1996-1999)
An active community leader, Pete Brubaker advocated improving school readiness, served as founding director of “Focus on our Future” and led a variety of business partnerships for children and education. Board experience was Brubaker’s first contact with Martin Library, an easy fit given his intense interest in early childhood education and youth. Through his leadership, Pete initiated a countywide endowment-building program to ensure the future of York County Libraries. Recognizing Martin Library as a vibrant, downtown non-profit organization, he understands the importance of community partnerships. Pete knows Martin Library will continue to thrive by offering both traditional and non-traditional library services.
ANTHONY CAMPISI (presided 1999-2002)
During his three-year presidency, Tony set the stage for the 2005 expansion of Martin Library with a successful capital campaign that included the donation of the brownstone building by Louis Appell and the leadership of Tom Wolf and Bill Simpson. He advocated a closer collaboration with the York County Library System to foster library growth and development. To broaden revenues, Tony designed a corporate partner program that led to innovative philanthropy, helped the library overcome budgetary challenges and opened the doors to new ways of support. Tony recognizes the important role a library plays in a knowledge-based economy, vital to our democratic system.
GEORGE SEVERNS (presided 2002-2004)
As an educator, George Severns found a perfect partnership between schools and libraries and advocated collaboration between the institutions. After his retirement as Dover School District superintendent, Severns became president of the Martin Library board where he continued to promote library and community relationships and plan for the library expansion. During his tenure, the York County Library System and Martin Library strengthened their partnership and alliance. Severns sees the library continuing as a community information center, with both written and electronic reading and viewing exchange, and as a group meeting place for social and community involvement.
CHRYSTA STINE (presided 2004-2007)
With a lifelong commitment to volunteer service, Chrysta Stine served in numerous board and leadership positions. Her association with libraries started early as her mother was one of the first public librarians in her western Pennsylvania hometown. Chrysta joined Martin’s board in 2001, first as its Treasurer and later as President, cutting the ribbon for the Library’s grand reopening in 2005. She served on the Board of the York County Library System and the Capital Campaign team for the Kaltreider-Benfer Library. Chrysta understands the importance of libraries as a free center for personal growth, lifelong learning and active community connections for all generations.
WILLIAM S. SHIPLEY III (presided 2007-2010)
The “Turtle Baby” fountain in the Children’s Library at Martin Library made a big impression on a young Bill Shipley. Remaining close to the library after his youth, Bill joined the Library Board and was elected president in 2007. Shipley spearheaded Sunday Hours at Martin Library, providing services seven days a week (despite statewide funding cuts). Shipley believes knowledge is essential to a functioning democracy, and libraries ensure equal access. He sees continued growth of library services with more electronic transmissions of information. He believes printed books will become less important as new and innovative products and programs continue to emerge.
ROBERT A. KINSLEY II (presided 2010-present)
Today’s president of the Board of Directors has a lifelong relationship with Martin Library. As architect for Martin’s 2005 expansion, Rob Kinsley brought a unique vision to the library, creatively tying the old with the new. He has donated design services at four York County libraries including Martin. As a result of its renovations, Martin Library is experiencing record visits, with the month of August 2010 reaching a milestone 46,000. Kinsley along with the board has championed Martin’s collaboration with the York County Library System. The promise of Rob’s innovative leadership, efficient management and personal commitment brings a bright future ripe with opportunities.
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That’s Jeanette Woolsey, with the Martin Library bookmobile, reading to children. The scene comes from the late 1950s.