Booked up

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DURHAM – The Historical Society is looking for a clean, dry space to store more than 1,000 books until a permanent place can be found for the Stephen King Library collection housed in the old Union Church.

The former church – later a town hall – is used as a museum by the society, by vote of the town. Members agreed in 2004 to a request by retired English teacher Diane Ackerman that the foyer of the building could be used as a lending library, which started with Ackerman’s donation of her book collection, which she could no longer keep at home. Many other books have been donated since then.

But now historical society members say they have spent nearly four years looking after the library instead of attending to their own tasks. “We can’t carry on any longer,” said longtime member Margaret Wentworth. “At the end of the summer, the library is done; it will be closed.”

Although novelist King, who grew up in Durham, allowed his name to be used, he has no connection to the library.

Wentworth described it as an excellent collection, but said they are at the stage that if they add a book, “We have to take one away.” In addition, circulation is down, she adds. “We need the space and without the library, there will be more time to spruce up the museum and have it open to the town on a regular basis.”

As it stands now, Aug. 25 is the deadline to find a place for the books. Ackerman hopes a clean, dry space can be found for the collection, which has grown to the extent that a closet adjacent to the foyer of the museum is now being used to help house it.

She hopes a deal can be negotiated with the school department to acquire one of the portable classrooms for a library when the new elementary school is built in four years. So if a place is donated to store the books rather than continuing with the library, the space would have to be available that long.

Ackerman, an avid reader and a fan of mystery and nonfiction, hopes a resolution can be found “at least until the townspeople can demonstrate they want a library.” She donated her collection to start the library and says her goal in life has always been “to share my love of reading with others.”

If no one steps forward, Ackerman said she will retrieve some of the books most important to her. The historical society will then dispose of the remaining books through sales, and maybe giving them away.

Anyone who has space to store the books or for further information may call Wentworth at 725-6935 or Cynthia Griswold at 353-6250.

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