UK Libraries Special Collections had a very special visitor on Monday, March 17. Nancy Chambers Lair, a member of UK Libraries faculty from 1956 through 1973, travelled from her home in Bloomington, Indiana, to view the current exhibitions related to the King Library Press in the King Building and the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning.
Born in 1926 in Maben, West Virginia, Nancy received the M.S. in Library Service from Columbia University in 1956 and accepted a position as a cataloger at UK Libraries in July of that year. She remembers many of the well-known UK librarians of times past including Margaret I. King, Catherine Katterjohn, Emilie Varden Smith, Jacqueline Bull, and Carolyn Hammer. Head of Acquisitions from 1968 until 1973, she left UK to accept a position in Bloomington as a school media specialist.
In 1974 Nancy became a lecturer in the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science, where she continued until her retirement in 1993. At IU, Nancy taught cataloging, collection development, and humanities reference. In retirement she spent time abroad teaching cataloging in Malawi . She also sponsored a number of international students at Indiana University. In 2004, Nancy received a Beta Phi Mu service award recognizing her contributions to library and information science.
Along with her dedicated service as a librarian and educator for over 37 years, Nancy was, and is, an avid hand press printer. She was one of the original printers of High Noon Press, the precursor to the King Library Press founded by Carolyn Hammer in 1956. Nancy worked on the first book printed here at UK Libraries, the 1956 printing of “The Marriage of Cock Robin & Jenny Wren” at High Noon Press. She remained lifelong friends with Carolyn and Victor Hammer and, when she moved to Bloomington she took a press with her and continued printing at her home.
The most recent book printed at Nancy’s press, The Press at Chelsea Court, is a 2014 edition of “Street Haunting: a London Adventure,” by Virginia Woolf. Nancy was assisted in this printing by her friend and protégé, Sarabeth Noggle, who accompanied her to Lexington. Nancy dedicated the book to “Carolyn Hammer, teacher and friend, who opened the doors to the joys of the hand press and to the words of Virginia Woolf.” Nancy and Sarabeth presented UK Libraries with copy no. 1 of “Street Haunting,” during their visit.
As part of their ongoing project to interview people associated with Carolyn Hammer through the King Library Press or other hand printing ventures, Susan E. King and Gail Kennedy will travel to Bloomington during the summer to conduct an oral history interview with Nancy Lair about Carolyn Hammer, hand printing, and her recollections of UK Libraries.