By Lee Criscuolo
Central Rappahannock Regional Library grew out of the City of Fredericksburg’s Wallace Library. Here is how our wonderful library system has developed over the years:
- Before the CRRL
- 1909 - 1969: The Wallace Library
- 1969 - 1971: Regional library demonstration period
- 1971- today: CRRL grows & matures
- Library trivia
A number of leading men of the town of Fredericksburg form the Library and Lyceum Association. The town provides rent-free rooms in the City's courthouse. Sadly, interest flags after a few years.
The Ladies Auxiliary revives the Library & Lyceum into a flourishing concern.
Once again, the library falls on hard times when funding becomes scarce, and the young lady librarian leaves to get married. The books are packed up and stored in the courthouse.
Eight intrepid ladies vow to run the library on a sound “economical yet progressive” basis. Locally born abolitionist Moncure Daniel Conway gives the library high marks and a contribution of 300 books. The library expands to 115 subscribers and 2,500 books.
"Fredericksburg: Past, Present, & Future" - a lecture given by historian Robert R. Howison, requested by and for the benefit of, the Fredericksburg Library & Lyceum. Howison begins with the formation of the Earth and works his way up to the founding of Fredericksburg and beyond!
Capt C. Wistar Wallace bequeaths $15,000 to the City of Fredericksburg for the purpose of establishing a permanent library to be called the “Wallace Library.” The City Council votes to accept the gift and create a city library. More details on the founding of the Wallace Library
Marjorie M. Whidden, a graduate of the McGill University Library School and Director of the Wallace Library, becomes the director of the regional library system at its formation.
1969 – 1971: Regional library demonstration period
The Central Rappahannock Regional Library system is formed as a model to demonstrate the value of public library service to the region. The City of Fredericksburg donates the former Lafayette school building at 1201 Caroline Street to house the library.
The books belonging to the Wallace Library are merged with 29,000 additional volumes purchased by the state. The library is funded by the State of Virginia for the 2-year demonstration period. Two bookmobiles are provided which travel to Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Westmoreland Counties.
1971- today: CRRL grows and matures
Alliance for Literacy program established to help adults gain reading skills.
Headquarters building in Fredericksburg is renovated. Floors are reinforced, parking is increased, and the main building is connected to the annex by means of a glass-ceiling atrium. The annex then becomes a theater with meeting rooms
Library gets equipment to lend to the deaf and hard of hearing from the Virginia Department for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing.
Colonial Beach Branch opens.
CRRL offers Internet access to customers and has sessions to introduce people to the Internet. The library system plans to have computers in the reference area soon for people to access “selected research sites.” Says Donna Cote, “The library’s goal is to provide equitable access to electronic information to all our patrons.”
The library system's website, designed by Adriana Puckett, is named LibrarySpot.com’s Library Site of the Month.
In July, Fredericksburg Branch, with the assistance of the City of Fredericksburg, doubles its available parking spaces to 56 and increases the lot's accessibility.
- The first person to check out a book from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library was Mrs. Walter R. Yost.
The mystery cupola
A 1915 picture postcard shows a photograph of Lafayette Elementary School (currently Fredericksburg Branch) with a cupola/clock tower on top of the building. What happened to it? It certainly is not there now!
- When was smoking banned inside the library buildings? 1986
- The top five books checked out in August 1992: Gone with the Wind, Roots, Resumes That Knock ‘em Dead, Green Eggs & Ham, and Where the Wild Things Are.
- What year did circulation first top one million items? 1991! (To be precise, 1,074,243 were checked out.)
- The strangest item ever returned in a library book? A real fried egg
For more insights into CRRL's past, peruse our CRRL in the News scrapbooks of Free Lance-Star articles, covering the years 1969 to 2000.