This is Jean McMillen interviewing Nan Longley at her home Lion’s Head, 87 Canaan Road, Salisbury, Ct. The date is July 13, 2012.
JPM:May I have your full name?
JPM:Where were you born?
NL:I was born in New York City.
JPM:Your birth date, please?
JPM:Your parents’ names?
NL:Elizabeth and William Dempster
JPM:Do you have siblings?
NL:I have a brother.
JPM:Your educational background?
NL:I have a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College.
JPM:How did you come to this area?
NL:My husband knew of the area, and when we moved from New Canaan into New York City, we needed a place to get away on weekends. So we came up and loved it and were weekenders for about 10 years. We finally bought a place and became full time residents.
JPM:What year did you become full time residents?
NL:1990, I believe.
JPM:How did you get involved with work at the Scoville Library?
NL: I have always been involved with libraries; I started as a volunteer in the children’s school system and then I worked for a temporary agency in New York City Gossage-Regan which supplied temporary librarians to businesses all over the city. I worked for Banker’s Trust for four years; I worked for IBM and for a lot of other businesses. I also had done proof reading which is related: I did some work for the New York Public Library so it was very natural for me to be interested in a library. I had always been a library member wherever I have lived. Fairly soon after I moved here I began to work at the Edsel Ford Library at Hotchkiss.
JPM:I am going to go to the Scoville Library first and then I shall go on to Hotchkiss. At the Scoville I believe you were involved with Friends of the Scoville Library?
NL:I was involved with that, not in the beginning. In the beginning I was first of all I was on the board for 10 years of the library. I worked as a volunteer in actually hands on library work. I certainly was involved in helping to run the book sales that the Friends started. I helped to start the Friends with Libby Waterson.
JPM:The book sale purpose was what?
NL:To raise money for the library.
JPM:I gather that as is now the money is spent on whatever the librarian deems…
JPM:The frosting on the cake, actually.
NL:Correct, she is very much involved in how the money is spent.
JPM:Then you are on the Annual Fund?
NL:I was. When I was on the board, I was head of the Annual Fund for, well almost all the time that I was on the board. I was Chairman of the Annual Fund.
JPM:Would you tell me some people who worked with you on the Annual Fund? Do you remember any names?
NL:Certainly Laurie Batchelor worked with me, and she worked with me on Friends. That is all that I can recall.
JPM:How about people on the Board?
NL:Mark Spoor was the Chairman of the Board, Bob Hawkins probably the first year and then Mark Spoor. Bev Hoffman from Hotchkiss was on the board.
NL:No, I don’t remember that Jean was on the board; Bob Bettingall was on the board.
JPM:A goodly group, what was the purpose of the annual fund?
NL:The Annual Fund was to keep the library going. We had a small amount of money from the town, but the rest of it had to come from what money we could raise. It was very difficult to…
JPM:It always is.
NL:It always is. It increased certainly during the time I was the Chairman, but not as much as we wanted which was another reason why we wanted to start a Friends because that would be another source of income for this very valuable library.
JPM:Oh and it is. It is a community center; it’s been such an asset to the town in all of its time, but over time it has become more and more of an asset with having a place to meet for TLC, Chess Club, Toastmasters, children’s programs, movies on Saturday nights, all sorts of things which is absolutely wonderful.
NL:That definitely has grown since I first started there; a lot of that never went on partly because there was really no place to have a lot of that kind of meeting.
JPM:With the Sara Wardell Room now, which used to be awful,
NL:Yes!JPM:It’s a wonderful community resource. It truly is. Now tell me about Hotchkiss, how did you get involved with Hotchkiss Library?
JPM:Hotchkiss School library, yes, because Hotchkiss Library is in Sharon. The Edsel Ford Library is at Hotchkiss. Thank you.
NL:Well, I wanted something to do; here I was up here, and I needed something to keep occupied and I thought well, why not I’ll try to put my skills to use. I went up and talked to Walter DeMelle and told him of my background. Before you knew it, I was there. I was there for 6 years. I did a variety of thing: I was a periodical assistant, then I was a cataloguer, and then finally I ended up as the Circulation Manager.
JPM:When you were at the Ford Library, were they computerized at that point?
NL”:Yes, and they were computerized the first year I went there. So I got in on the beginning of that. I had some computer experience because when I worked at Bankers’ Trust in New York; they did not have a computer system, even in their technical library. They handed me a book and they gave me a computer, and they said “learn it and then put all the books on it.” You know catalogue and put them on it.
NL:So that was my introduction to computers. When I got up to Edsel Ford, it was fun.
JPM:Yes, and you knew what you were doing.
NL:I had a pretty good idea.
JPM:When I was volunteering at the library, the Scoville Memorial Library, I was culling the nonfiction for those books that would not be put on the computer. The idea was that I was going to start with 000 and work to the middle, and somebody was going to start at 975 and work to me. What happened was, I started with 000 and worked all the way through to 97 whatever. It was a job!
NL:It is a job, yes.
JPM:That list was shipped out to Texas, and it was computerized in Texas I believe. Then it came back. It was an experience to do that, and I am not computer literate, but we managed. Now while you were at Scoville Memorial Library and the Hotchkiss Library, the Edsel Ford Library, you did an index for the Lakeville Journal.
NL: I did and that was…We thought about that in about 1990. Sara O’connor (Wardell, now) and Lucie Collins got together. We had a lunch at the White Hart. They had this idea and would I be interested in doing it. Of course, naturally I jumped at the chance, so we started; I did the research. Oh we made a proposal to the Salisbury Association to fund this work.
JPM:Why the Salisbury Association rather than the Scoville Memorial Library?
NL:Because while we kept them, we thought the Salisbury Association would be interested in the historical part of it, so they were instrumental in getting this going also. They agreed, and so we chose 25 years between 1950 and 1975. The reason we chose that is that the library had the books from 1950 on. Everything else was up in the Ford Library on microfilm, and I wanted to be able to actually touch the newspaper and be able to take it home in the giant books and work on it. I didn’t want to work in front of a screen all the time. So we chose that time; also it was a period with a lot of new and a lot of people involved in the news were still here in Salisbury. So you were able to talk to people, if you had questions. It was very germane and pertinent to the situation. So I did some research on indexing programs, computerized indexing programs, and I finally found one called “Macrex” a very powerful program and I started indexing. I did it in 5 year segments. We indexed all the news of all the towns that the Lakeville Journal covered, not just Salisbury, and we indexed all the vital statistics, all the accidents, all the crime, celebrations, birthdays, deaths, politics, religion, education, taxes, health matters, business firms, social events, art, theater, dance, and anything that went on in any of those towns. The only thing we didn’t index was advertizing and national or state news, unless it really pertained to this area. Sports events generally unless they really pertained; things like we would do Lime Rock (race track) or we would do the ski jumps because…
JPM:That’s the local area.
NL:Yes, exactly. That’s what I started to do. That was 1300 issues in that time segment of; at that point, there were 3700 issues. We hoped that maybe it would continue.
JPM:To my knowledge it hasn’t been continued, although I do know that they have a lot of microfilm of the Lakeville Journal. I think that was carried on, but I am not sure.
NL:Who has the microfilm?
JPM:The library has the microfilm that I know about, as well as your indexes. But I haven’t checked to see how far the microfilm goes. (Microfilms from Aug. 14, 1897 to Dec. 2009)
NL:I don’t know; I had a letter maybe three or four years ago from someone who said he was very interested in continuing with my work and what program did I use and whom could he talk to? I never heard anything further about it. So I don’t know.
JPM:Oh, what a shame! Is there anything that I haven’t covered on either your work with the Scoville Library, your work with the Edsel ford Library, or the Lakeville Journal indexing that you would like to add?
NL:Well, I have a couple of things I might just add about the indexing. It grew like Topsey; it was totally out of control. We had no idea how much (work) it would be. Some of the 5 years entries there were 10, 00 entries for the 5 year period. Then as I got closer to 1975, there were 16,000 entries. These entries were full text. I didn’t just say “fire, the year and the page”; I would say ‘Fire at the Longley home, destroyed the barn” or whatever. I mean it was full like the New York Times.
Oh, the other interesting thing was the number of queries I got while I was doing it. For instance I had a young woman get in touch with me; she was born in Sharon Hospital, she knew the date, but she was adopted, and she didn’t know her parents’ names. So could I look and try to match up the date and her name, but I had no luck there. Then I had a person from France who was writing a book on Simeno, the writer, who lived here at one point and he wanted me to get everything out of the Lakeville Journal every item so that he could put it into his book which in fact he did. Then I had a lawyer get in touch with me because of an accident that had happened two or three years ago, and he wanted every kind of information that would help him with that case. There was a question about balloons that had come over from England. Had they traveled over Salisbury, you know an air balloon? So I did research on the side as well as indexing. That was fun. It was fun answering questions when I could.
JPM:If you had to do the indexing over again, is there anything that you would change?
NL:I might narrow a number of categories. It grew so quickly and there was so much. It became a real burden to do this, to have to do this as well as then I was working full time at Hotchkiss. Towards the end that was…
JPM:You didn’t train anyone to help or to follow in your footsteps.
NL:I never heard of anyone who wanted to, and I never put out the calls.
JPM:Now I am going to ask about civic activities other than the library and the Journal. Were you in the Garden club?
NL:I was in the Garden Club. I was President for 2 years of the Garden Club.
JPM:Boards, committees, but your time was pretty full.
NL:It was pretty full; I think that my interest was primarily in the library and then the Garden Club.
JPM:As, I’m going to call you a new-comer to town, how did you find the atmosphere of the town when you came? Was it reserved, was it friendly?
NL:I think it was friendly; I think at the very beginning there was a lot of talk about weekenders and full-timers. There was a…
JPM:A little touchy.
NL:a little tension, but it wasn’t bad, and I don’t think it continued. Otherwise it was friendly. People were friendly; they were interested in you.
JPM:Now that you have lived here for an appreciable amount of time, do you feel the atmosphere of the town has changed any, or is it still as you found it.
NL:I think it is still is.
JPM:Oh how nice.
NL:I do, it maybe because of the number of years that we have lived here, I am very comfortable in it, but I do know a lot of people in town, so you have a very good feeling about the town.
JPM:Wonderful. Is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview?
NL:I don’t think so, but I think it is a great idea to talk to people and put it on tape.
JPM:I think it is wonderful …
NL:As a genealogist I think it is a great idea.
JPM:It is a wonderful thing that people have been so gracious with their time, and I thank you very, very much.
NL:You are very welcome.