Ruth Lunan at age 17. Image from Ancestry.

The Portsmouth Free Public Library is a central gathering spot for our community.  The librarian and staff have an important role in encouraging our children to read, providing resources for education and enabling lifelong learning for adults.  One of the librarians that filled that role for twenty-three years was Ruth Coggeshall Lunan.

Ruth was born in 1895 and was the daughter of Leander and Jennie Brownell Coggeshall.  In 1913, at the age of eighteen, Ruth married Clarence Lunan of Fall River.  They had three daughters, Elaine, Madeline and Ethel.  In 1934 Clarence died suddenly while driving a firetruck from a fire at Montaup Golf Club.  Ruth was left a widow and it was about that time that she began to serve the community as librarian of the Portsmouth Free Public Library.

During her twenty-three years of service, Ruth presided over many changes at the library.  The library lacked funds for many of the years Ruth served, but she was credited with providing the services and improvements needed to get by.  The yearly librarian report for 1954 shows that Ruth served 875 adult patrons and 390 children.  Total book circulation was 24,581 volumes.  Edith Taylor Nicholson became aware of the needs of the library and donated a gift to improve the library.  Ruth worked to use that gift wisely for the library and its patrons.  The schedule for library services in 1957 included hours Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons from 2 to 5PM.  Evening hours were Thursday and Saturday nights from 6 to 8PM.

Ruth resigned from her duties in July of 1958, but she continued to serve as a Friend of the Library.  In 1966 when a new wing was dedicated in the name of longtime benefactor Edith Bishop Taylor Nicholson, Ruth was on hand assisting staff during the open house and dedication.

Newspaper clippings show Ruth as an avid Contract Bridge player and she was active in the Methodist Church.  She and Fred Harper were granted a victualler’s license for Sherman Spa on Quaker Hill.

Sometime later Ruth moved to Florida and she died there in 1980,