Prior to 1908, when the Carnegie Library was built, books at Rollins were stored in several places, including a lean-to behind the kitchen of Pinehurst Cottage, at Knowles Hall, and at Lyman Gymnasium. Shortly after Grover arrived at Rollins, Hamilton Holt put him in charge of the Carnegie library. He was director of the library from 1928 to 1931, but he always maintained a keen interest in the doings of the various librarians. He added a substantial number of books to the collections, and, in 1931, talked William Sloane Kennedy into donating $ 10,000 and his collection of Whitmania to the library. Grover watched over that money like a hawk. It was not to be spent on general expenditures, only on items having to do with Walt Whitman. During the great depression, library funds
were scarce, and William Yust, Grover's successor as librarian felt that the Kennedy funds would be better spent on other acquisitions. With William Yust and Alfred J Hanna, Grover founded the Book-A-Year-Fund, an endowment that still buys books and library tools for the Olin Library today. Grover was a master in collecting small amounts of money and make them amount to something.
The Olin Archives have a collection of teaching aids Grover used in his classes, and they are still used today. They illustrate Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, ancient papyri, medieval manuscripts, a page from Gutenberg's bible, examples of early British and American printers, as well as printing paper, fonts, book binding materials. As we enter the post-Gutenberg digital era, these artifacts become even more valuable, so we may understand where our written communications have come from. I remember how thrilled I was when Aldus (the company, not the Italian printer) started making computer fonts that allowed pleasantly looking
computer pages. That company is now Adobe, the makers of Photoshop and other digital media processing applications including Muse and Indesign. Grover would revel in the enormous choice of fonts.
Edwin Grover supported libraries wherever he could. In 1936, when his wife Mertie died, he asked for money and books in lieu of flowers to start the Hannibal Square Library in her memory. She, Mrs. Clarence Vincent and Mrs. Charles F. Brown had started the Welbourne Avenue Nursery and Kindergarten which always had a small lending library. During summers, in Hendersonville, NC, at the Huckleberry Mountain Art Colony, he supported the library that Evelyn Haynes, a 1930 Rollins graduate, had started. Since the locals in the NC mountains had difficulty accessing the library, Grover and Ms. Haynes had sheriff's deputies take boxes of books to various stores around the county for lending out, and then rotate them every six weeks.
In his last few years, Edwin Grover, with the help of his daughter Frances gave most of his books away to various libraries: the Mills library at Rollins, the University of Jacksonville, and the Orlando Junior College, now Lake Highland Preparatory School. He also sold some of the more valuable items, since funds at the Grover household were very short.
Today, in the Olin Library Archives and Special Collections, a plaque of Edwin Grover hangs on the wall. It was made by Ruth Sherwood, shortly after she moved to Winter Park and married Albin Polasek. Jonathan Miller created a Grover Room at Olin Library with support from Dave and Nancy Berto. Hopefully, the new Winter Park Public Library in Martin Luther King Park will have a Hannibal Square LIbrary section with a Mertie Graham Grover room.
Ed Gfeller 2016
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