A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SHAW PUBLIC LIBRARY
In 1910, a small group of citizens established the first library in Greenville. The group spearheaded a move to gather books, raise funds and set up a board of trustees. The first library was located in the village post office in the center of town. In 1913, at the annual town meeting, the Town of Greenville approved takeover of the existing library, controlled by the Union League, to the town of Greenville as a free public library. The citizens voted to elect a committee of 5 to act as trustees. The library was known as the Greenville Free Public Library. The first book budget was for $30.00. In 1916, the library was moved from a rent free room in the H.W. Shaw Manufacturing Building to the large corner room of the second floor of the Shaw Block for rent of $5.00 a month. The new book budget increased to $90.00. In 1925, Charles D. Shaw, a prominent and successful local businessman, deeded the current building on the corner of Lily Bay Rd. and Pleasant St. to the town to be used as a library and historical building.
Initially Mr. Shaw shared his office space with the library (one can see his old bank vault in the lower floor today.) But it soon became apparent that the library would need more space and eventually the Shaw Library, as it was known then, inhabited the entire building. The budget for the library in 1925-26 had risen to $500.00 and so the board of trustees was challenged to raise more money for the library by soliciting donations and having cake sales. Over the years, fund raising to supplement the town library has been a priority of the trustees and others who actively support the library.
The land where the new Shaw Library building was located had been in the Shaw family for 3 generations. Mr. Shaw took great pride in the library and donated furnishings as well. The new library held over 2000 books placed on modern steel book stacks and shelving. A handsome oak receiving desk, tables and chairs provide a welcoming and comfortable place for reading and research today, just as it did back then.
Over the large fireplace in the center of the library, hangs a portrait of Charles Shaw, placed there by his heirs in 1931. Their only stipulation was that the portrait remain in memory to Mr. Shaw. Today, it serves to remind us of one man’s generosity extended to the citizens of Greenville. In turn we are all reminded again that through our donations, large and small, we work together to maintain our valuable and much loved Shaw Public Library.
In 2009, members of the Shaw Public Library Association embarked on a fund raising project to provide much needed space to expand the children’s library, computer lab, and library staff offices. In the Shaw family tradition of giving, former Greenville resident, Scarlett Davis purchased the home next to the library in 2010, and donated it to the association in memory of her parents. Through the generosity of many other individuals and business, work began in late 2010 to renovate the home at 8 Pleasant St. which was originally built in the early 1800’s.
Today, the “Davis Annex” is a beautiful, sunny, functional space that is used by the children who not only enjoy a vast library of books, videos and DVD’s but also special reading programs and activities provided by library staff and volunteers. Space for a computer room, handicap accessible restroom, storage rooms, and staff offices round out this spacious, multifunctional addition.