The Future for Searls
Currently there are approximately 2500 printed books on Nevada County and early California history. Approximately 960 maps, an estimated 10,000 photographs and countless original manuscripts and documents are held in the collection and housed in the 650 sq. ft. building.
Other materials are stored at the Foley Library around the corner, through the graciousness of the County Library system, but space there is becoming more and more in demand, and the Society needs to plan for the future of their items stored there.
The recent addition of the McGuire Survey Company map collection (estimated at 5-10,000 individual maps) and the Peter van der Pas book, periodical and document collection have strained the facility to bursting. The van der Pas items are being moved to the building as they are catalogued. The McGuire collection is being sorted and cataloged at another location and will never fit into the current building for lack of space.
Over the years of its life, the Searls Library has been blessed with a good number of dedicated volunteers who have cataloged and preserved the collection while helping the general public and many authors alike. Our past chief librarian, Edwin Tyson, had been acknowledged as the “county historian” by the Board of Supervisors and had spent nearly 30 years as a volunteer at the Searls. Ed has trained several volunteers who now keep the facility open to the public and help with research.
Prior to Ed’s term as director, the library was manned by local author, and librarian, Doris Foley, who is noted for her biography of Lola Montez and guide books to the Nevada County area.
Ed Tyson, former Director of the Searls, had declared that "this is now the finest collection of historical data available in Northern California except for the California State Library’s history collection and the U.C. Berkeley’s Bancroft Library".
The Society has determined that a critical need exists for a new building which would house a headquarters for the Society, a new much larger home for the Searls Library collection, and provide warehousing for the Books Division and for artifacts not currently on display at the Firehouse #1 Museum, the Transportation Museum or the North Star Power House Mining Museum - all of which are operated by the Society in buildings owned by their respective cities.
To this end, the Board of Directors has established a “Building Fund” and transferred a good portion of their general fund into it. The sale of the Searls building will be necessary for the acquisition of the new facility, but the name of Searls Historical Library will be continued as an acknowledgment of the valuable work of this historically important family of attorneys and their donation of the first building actually owned by the Society which has protected the archives of the County for more than 30 years.
Donations to the Building Fund are tax deductible and may be sent to the Nevada County Historical Society,
P.O. Box 1300, Nevada City, California 95959. Please note on your check “Building Fund Donation.”