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Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library celebrates another anniversary

The state’s oldest free library marks an anniversary this month.

The Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library was founded in 1847 as one of the first free lending libraries in the Mid Atlantic States.

The library opened to patrons in May 1848, welcoming men, women, and children.

The library was originally adjoined to the schoolhouse called the Old Academic Building. A fire in 1893 damaged the original library, and it moved to the Wilson Mansion on Main Street in 1924.

By 1967 the library had moved to its present home on High Street in Odessa.

Today the library encompasses 6,100 square feet and a collection of 55,000 materials, including its unique Delaware Collection.

Library Director Katryna Cera-Proulx says the library’s Delaware Collection is a particular strength.

“A lot of people fly in from North Dakota, or California or Nevada to do research on genealogy or history of the Delmarva area. We have a lot of first prints and maps from the 1800s and things like that.”

The library relies upon fundraising to supplement its book budget and to maintain and improve its building.

Cera-Proulx says the hometown community repeatedly shows up for the annual Mayfest fundraiser to support the library.

“Last year, we had over 4,000 [people], but last year was the most beautiful day we’ve ever, ever had on MayFest, but even with rain all day we still had over 2.500 people come.”

The Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library operates as a “contractual library” member of the New Castle County Library System.

Karl Lengel has worked in the lively arts as an actor, announcer, manager, director, administrator and teacher. In broadcast, he has accumulated three decades of on-air experience, most recently in New Orleans as WWNO’s anchor for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a host for the broadcast/podcast “Louisiana Considered”.