Oxford Public Library Is Back in Business


The Oxford Public Library’s best day this year was during the Oxford Christmas Tree Lighting. Their cozy space was friendly and welcoming to all who visited. (Photo courtesy of Christine Resciniti)

Roisin McCluskey, Junior Editor

After a ten-month break, the Oxford Public Library has reopened and is better than ever.

A quote by Irish writer  Richard Steele greets visitors when they enter the building: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

The cozy library located on Washington Avenue in Oxford is run by volunteers Kevin Thomsen, his wife, Laurie Devereaux, and fellow volunteer, Fran Recca. 

“People should visit the library–it’s full of knowledge and it’s a safe place,” said Thomsen.

“It’s homey, and there’s lots of good information here,” Recca added. “And it smells good!”

The library first opened in 1921. Located practically next door to the Old Oxford Furnace, the building, which resembles a one-room schoolhouse, was donated by a superintendent for the Empire Steel and Iron Company, Sterling Gait Valentine.

Valentine had  specifically requested that the land and building should always be used for a library; otherwise, it would become the property of the Empire Steel and Iron Company,

“We still have the first book donated to the library [by Mr. Valentine],” Thomsen said.

Because of the lack of volunteers after COVID-19 hit, the library was closed for ten months, starting in October 2021 and reopening this past August. The library is completely volunteer-run and upon filling out applications, anyone can volunteer to work there. This is helpful to students who may want more volunteer hours for the National Honor Society or to build their resumes.

When asked how the community can become more involved, Recca said, “Just come here and talk to us. There’s always something to do. We need input on what should be done with the library and feedback on what we’re already doing.”

The busiest day was Nov. 26, Thomsen said. That was the night of the Oxford Christmas Tree Lighting and the library was giving out free hot cocoa to visitors. 

“We had the most people come in and check out the most books,” he said. “We doubled the number of patrons that night–it was only 12, but you’ve gotta start somewhere.”

The library is a single room, the walls filled with books from floor to ceiling. There are vast arrays of books ranging from informational text to modern science fiction. While the library is not accepting book donations at the moment, they are very open to recommendations for new books to put on the shelves.

“Reopening the library needed to be done,” said Thomsen. “I couldn’t stand to see the building sit here and not be used, and if it’s not used it gets turned back to the company that built it.” 

The library is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. It will be open on Saturdays as soon as more adult volunteers apply and start volunteering there regularly.

“No matter what anyone says, libraries are the future,” said Recca. “It’s an adventure.”