In the 1800s, Judge John Handley frequently traveled from his home in Pennsylvania to visit a friend in Winchester, Va. Handley became so enamored with Winchester that, even though he never lived there, he bequeathed $250,000 to the city. That gift established the Handley Trust and funded the construction of two schools and a magnificent library “for the free use of the people of the city of Winchester.”
Handley Library, which recently celebrated its centennial, is an architectural wonder, built from limestone and graced by a towering copper-plated dome. It was designed to resemble an open book, with the dome representing the spine and the building’s wings representing the covers. Inside it features a theater, meeting and study rooms, an archive of local history and genealogy, a gift shop, and much more. It is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
Today, the library in downtown Winchester has grown into a system that serves the entire northern Shenandoah Valley. The Handley Regional Library system includes the original Handley Library as well as the Clarke County Library and the Mary Jane & James L. Bowman Library. In addition to impressive collections of books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, and reference materials, each location serves as a conduit to a wealth of free e-books, digital music downloads, and language instruction courses, and they offer year-round educational and entertainment programs for the children and adults that have come to revere the libraries as irreplaceable community cornerstones.
Since 2001, The Library Corporation’s Library•Solution automation system has helped Handley Regional Library provide stellar services to its borrowers. As technology evolves, Library•Solution integrates innovative online features that make it possible for libraries to serve everyone, even those people who never step foot inside the buildings. That’s just the way Judge John Handley would have wanted it.