Nearly A Century Of Stories

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November 20, 2018
Massanutten Regional Library Celebrates 90th Anniversary
Daily News-Record  11/19/18
HARRISONBURG — Carol Stickley remembers helping her mother alphabetize the punch cards for books at Massanutten Regional Library on days when she had a dentist or a doctor’s appointment.
Her mother, Sandra Monger- Shifflett, was a librarian there for 37 years before retiring in 2014.
She and her daughter returned to the library on Saturday to celebrate the 90th 
anniversary of its opening and to share fond memories.
“I enjoyed the people I worked with and the patrons, particularly the children when I first started,” Monger- Shifflett said. She still bumps into former patrons when she’s out and about and they stop her and say “I know you from somewhere.”
Saturday was a chance for former employees and patrons to meet up once again and peruse books and items from the nine decades the downtown Harrisonburg library has been providing books and services for the community.
Some of the items on display included examples of library cards, card catalogs, an electric pencil used to write labels, lithographs, documents about the library, original blueprints, a time clock and more.
“We have the old sign for the Newman Street entrance, and this mezzanine railing that a lot of people remember,” said Jon Hilbert, branch coordinator for the library system.
Over the next 10 years, the library system will gather oral stories and memories that people have of the library into a collection to be called “Century of Stories,” Hilbert said. On Saturday, a few of those interviews were conducted.
“People talked about their first memories of getting a library card or how the library has benefited them over the years,” Hilbert said.
Lois Moyers, a librarian at the Massanutten Regional Library for 21 years before retiring in May, said it was nice to see so many people show up on Saturday to appreciate the library’s history.
“I liked working with the books and I worked with the bookmobile and did a lot of outreach,” Moyers said.
Massanutten Regional Library traces its origins to the establishment of the Rockingham Library Association in 1928. Members of the Harrisonburg Kiwanis founded the Rockingham Library Association with a goal of creating a library that would serve the residents of the area for decades.
Their vision became reality when, in November of 1928, the Rockingham Public Library opened in the Professional Building on the corner of South Main Street and Bruce Street in downtown Harrisonburg.
Although opened less than one year before the stock market crash of 1929, the Rockingham Public Library survived the disruption of the Great Depression, and in the midst of World War II the library began to expand.
In 1943, the library purchased its first bookmobile, and mobile library service began in Rockingham County in 1944 and in Page County in 1946. That same year, Rockingham County, Page County and Harrisonburg agreed to form a regional library system.
Over the next half-century, community members opened libraries in Elkton, Shenandoah, Broadway and Bridgewater. In 2000, all these branches combined with Rockingham County Public Library and Page Public Library to form Massanutten Regional Library, which also saw the addition of the Grottoes branch that year.
In 2010, budget cuts led MRL’s board of directors to close branches in Stanley and Bergton. The Stanley branch has since been reopened as the William “Bill” Kibler Community Library independent of the MRL system.
For more information about Massanutten Regional Library or to learn more about “Century of Stories,” go to