Tuscarawas County Public Library System staff members Katherine Grewell (L) and Lacy Sexton (R) look at a book signed by Salvador Dali that was discovered at the library. (Tuscarawas County Public Library System)
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Tuscarawas County Public Library staff members have been keeping busy during an ongoing renovation and expansion project at the Main Library in New Philadelphia, and they're are finding some unique items in the process.
The project had the library closed during the month of May, and staff used the opportunity to sort through the collection and organize spaces in preparation for the next phase of construction. Assistant Director Andrea Legg says they were surprised by some of the things they uncovered.
"You never know what you may uncover during a move or renovation," she says. "There is always a cabinet or nook that hasn't been cleaned out in some time."
Among the items unearthed was a 1947 limited-edition copy of "Essays of Michel De Montaigne" with beautiful blue binding and a gold-leafed insignia. Legg says staff knew they had found something special when they opened it and discovered a note from a former librarian indicating that the book was illustrated and signed by the famous Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali.
"We were all really shocked when we discovered this book, signed by Salvador Dali, that had been stowed away in the bottom of a cabinet," Legg says. "The craziest part about the book is that at one time it had been part of the library's collection. Customers were able to check it out and take it home like any other book in the library."
The book was published in 1947 by Doubleday & Company, Inc. and is number 928 of 1,000 copies. It features essays from the French philosopher Michel De Montaigne that were selected by Dali himself and that he then created accompanying illustrations for each essay.
In another closet, staff found a collection of unframed artwork by James Harrison "Hal" Donahey, political cartoonist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer from 1900-1949. Hal was a New Philadelphia native and some of his folksy style artwork reflects on his time spent in Tuscarawas County. The prints feature scenes from different towns throughout Ohio, including New Philadelphia, Dover, and Tuscarawas County.
While planning for the renovation project, the library has also gathered surplus items that will no longer be used after the renovation. Some of these items include vintage solid wood tables, chairs, bookshelves, local history items, vintage newspapers and Life magazines, office equipment, and more. Director Michelle McMorrow Ramsell says those items will be put up for sale during a public auction, while the more unique items, including the signed Dali book, will be sold online.
"We anticipate that many library lovers may want to take home a beloved piece of history while others may have an interest in the surplus office equipment."
The public auction is scheduled for June 21st beginning at 10 am at the Main Library with a preview of items starting at 8. A complete listing of items available at the public auction can be found online at www.tusclibrary.org.