Te village of Pinehurst last year commissioned a library needs assessment study, which is providing a comprehensive analysis of the future library needs of the community. Citizen participants have shared their opinions with professional consultants, and work on a new community survey is ongoing.
Although that sounds rather straightforward, the fact is that it is not. Pinehurst is not your typical village as far as library habits and special needs are concerned.
The Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives are unique in America. The library was the inspiration of Mrs. John L. Given (Irene Heinz Given), who died at age 85 in New York City in 1956. She was the daughter of H.J. Heinz and Sara Young Heinz of Pittsburgh. She and her husband, John, spent many winters in their Linden Road home and later at the Carolina Hotel. She served on the board of the Moore County Hospital and Village Chapel. A philanthropist, she and her father and brothers Howard and Clifford had financed the building of the imposing Heinz Chapel located on the University of Pittsburgh campus.
The building of the Given Memorial Library was generously funded and endowed by Sarah Lawson, Irene Given’s daughter. It opened in 1965, 70 years after the village was founded. The Tufts Archives addition was added in 1975 by Richard Tufts. One hopes that if a new successor public library is built by Pinehurst there, or at another location, that it will continue to be named the Given Memorial Library in honor of its caring sponsor.
If the village decides to expand the current Given Library building, for which now-obsolete architectural plans were drawn, it will have to either get a green light from the National Park Service (NPS) or probably lose the Historic Landmark status the village currently enjoys. NPS has seen those plans and is not expected to approve any meaningful expansion because it fears that any library expansion would impact the Village Green negatively.
The big question is, if the library leaves its current site for a new location, what will be the fate of the Tufts Archives and of the venerable library building? To date, no organization, individual or corporation has formally offered to guarantee the continuance of the archives. If the library and archives are physically separated, there will be a need to employ both a librarian and an archivist. Today, one person fills both roles efficiently and admirably.
The preserved history of the founder’s family, the golf resort and the village are at stake. The archives protect precious historic correspondence and documents, 150,000 photo images (most by John Hemmer), and over 300 field sketches and architectural drawings of famed Donald Ross golf courses. The Tuft Archives offer fascinating museum displays related to the Tufts family and Donald Ross. It is a unique resource that golf historians, writers and publications rely upon. It has served as the informal public relations arm of the community and resort for decades.
Modestly endowed, the archives have a unique financial model. It enjoys very little consumer traffic, and visiting is free. Customers seeking information and photo usage pay very modest fees. Such a business model may only be viable as it is now set up, with volunteers and a close association with the library. As a stand-alone resource, it would represent only red ink to whoever acquired it.
Another factor in the equation is the fate of the Given Book Shop, which has provided modest but valuable income to the library as well as a unique public service selling high quality books at very low prices. It also offers a valuable space for events of all kinds. Its Outpost Cafe is very popular.
Would a new public library continue its operation? Would volunteers give their time freely if they knew that a public library was now being funded with tax dollars? The Given Book Shop and the Outpost bring important consumer traffic into the village, which can use all that it can get.
I doubt that much thought will be given to the negative economic impact of any plan that moves the library to a new location away from the town center. Village businesses can only suffer if fewer library users regularly come into town to check out and return books.
I recommend expanding the current library building and not moving elsewhere.
The plan should provide much more space than the obsolete architect’s design of a decade ago. Operate the library and the Tufts Archives within significantly enlarged space as a public library operation, with the archives functioning as a private entity, funded with benefices from the Tufts and Given trusts. Keep everything efficiently under one roof with management provided by one person as it is now.
As the former historian of the Pinehurst Golf and Country Club, author of two books on Donald Ross golf courses and a longtime volunteer at the Given Book Store, my recommendation is that Pinehurst willingly risk losing the National Historic Landmark designation. It has never been promoted and NPS’s negative interference has not been helpful.
A local historic preservation commission can better protect our historic legacy. Create a bigger and better state-of-the-art public library where one has been conveniently and pleasantly located for 55 years.