Chandler to be area historical resource

NASHUA – Residents using the city’s library system to look for local historical facts and figures or to search out their family ancestry will soon be pulling up to a table at the Chandler Memorial Library at 257 Main St. instead of at the main building on Court Street.

The Nashua Public Library is converting the Chandler from an ethnic center to a local history and genealogy center, a move decided upon by library staff after several months of assessment, according to assistant library director Tom Corbett.

When the realignment is complete in January, the Chandler – built in 1874 and willed to the city by Mabel Chandler in 1959 – will stock the library’s entire collection of directories, periodicals, books and other materials on the history of the city and state, things that have recently been shelved in the Court Street building’s Hunt Room.

In addition, computers connected to the Internet – including access to the popular genealogy site – and microfilm readers will be set up where the Chandler’s collection of foreign-language books, magazines, journals, language tapes and English as a second language materials have been kept since the Chandler began serving as the city’s ethnic center in September 1982.

In turn, Corbett said, those materials will be moved to the main library. Some books will be incorporated into the general collection, but many will remain together by language or culture so they’ll be easier to find.

Officials plan no changes to the current use of the second-floor meeting rooms at the Chandler, including the Study Hall, the Green Room and the Cranberry Room, Corbett said. Use of the conference room – the large exhibit and function room on the Kinsley Street side – will also continue as usual.

Corbett said workshops on online genealogy will be offered after the realignment is complete, something that has grabbed the interest of assistant librarian Barbara Comer, an amateur genealogist who works at the Chandler.

“I took a course on finding ancestors,” she said. “I’ve been working on locating my family.”

She’s also looking forward to the facility’s new focus.

“We know this collection in and out. . . . This change will be a very good learning experience for us,” she said.

Corbett said library officials are in the process of hiring a head librarian with a background in local history, genealogy and archiving for the Chandler. Although part-time at 25 hours per week, the position will offer pro-rated benefits and a salary range of $15.68 to $27.43 per hour, depending on education and experience, the vacancy notice states.

Built by Seth Chandler, a pillar of the local 19th-century business and social community, it was given to the city by his daughter Mabel, who ordered it preserved as a library after she spent years watching many of downtown Nashua’s mansions being torn down.

The building will be the ideal place to immerse oneself in all things historical, according to library community services coordinator Carol Luers Eyman.

“Since genealogical research is an increasingly popular hobby, the library hopes the change will increase traffic at Chandler, helping the building be used to its full potential,” Luers Eyman wrote in a statement. “Its Victorian architecture is well-suited to history and genealogy.”

Corbett said expanded hours, probably covering three nights per week, are also in the plans.