In 1987 Amy White moved to Mount Vernon with her husband, Cornell Philosophy Professor Jim White, and answered a want ad in the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun calling for a part-time librarian in Lisbon. The mother of a 1-year-old at the time, White believed three hours a week to be feasible.
“It is funny,” she recalls. “I remember looking at the assistant librarian who was 90 years old and still working here, and thought, ‘Is this what I will do all my life?’”
Now director for 20 years, White has seen a relationship evolve between the Mount Vernon and Lisbon libraries. “When I started out here, people from Mount Vernon could not use the Lisbon Library and people from Lisbon could not use Mount Vernon’s,” she said. Teaming with then-Cole librarian, Thomas Shaw, they formed an agreement permitting open access to town residents.
Since then, Lisbon Library and Cole Library have collaborated on other activities like family nights and Children’s Story Time. Cathy Boggs, Cole’s public library coordinator, and White regularly join forces to bring in more costly and popular outside entertainment.
The ties between Cornell and the Lisbon Library have been nourished through White’s alliance with Cornell’s professors. In 1990, Cornell English professor Geneva Meers held literary discussions in the library as part of Let’s Talk, a program that allowed many townsfolk to brush up on their reading.
During the 1997 renovations to Heritage Hall, located above the Lisbon library, Paul Sannerud, then a Cornell theater professor, took a theater design class to the library to build the performance stage.
Today, Cornell theater students use the stage as rehearsal space for community theater projects. Last year, junior Kami Zbanek used Heritage Hall when she conducted a children’s play for Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Theater with the Living and Learning Community, Theatre for Social Change (T4SC).