“We had already put our budget numbers in for next year,” Merrill said. “I was blindsided by this whole thing.”
Now in her 23rd year at the library, Merrill said losing it would leave a big hole in the East Derry community.
Taylor Library first opened its doors in 1878 in a space at the historic Upper Village Hall, thanks to a $1,000 bequest from Harriet Taylor. Her sister, Emma, later donated another $1,000 to support the library.
As space got tight, the library moved across the street in the 1920s to its present location — a small brick building given to the town by Frederick Shepard Jr., grandfather to America’s first man in space, East Derry native Alan B. Shepard Jr.
The future astronaut once helped his grandmother, Annie, carry and arrange the books in her job as a Taylor librarian. The famed flier’s father, Alan Sr., served as a library trustee for 52 years. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Taylor Library has about 24,000 volumes and more than 2,900 patrons visiting its intimate, 1,300-square-foot space. Families enjoy story hours, summer events and popular holiday activities like the annual “Polar Express” story time. Often there are waiting lists for children who want to attend.
Merrill said people are showing support through emails, calls to town officials and by signing a petition. The petition had more than 100 signatures by early this week. Copies are at various locations around East Derry, including the East Derry store and post office. Library trustees planned an emergency meeting this week.
“It’s just amazing,” Merrill said. “People keep calling and asking me what they can do to save the library. It’s just snowballing.”
Ginny Mooney has worked at the library for 13 years. Closing the doors would be a sad end, she said.