New York Times Highlights Local Landmark (And Its Library and Librarian!)

Pagoda at Lily Dale, (ca. 1907, courtesy Joe Nickell Collection, Center for Inquiry Library, New York Heritage)

A recent issue of the New York Times introduced readers to the fascinating and unique Lily Dale Assembly in Chautauqua County. Times writer, Caroline Tompkins delved into past and current activities and people that have shaped the Spiritualist community since its inception in 1879; referencing the Fox Sisters (who are acknowledged with beginning the Spiritualist Movement despite later being discredited), Susan B. Anthony (who regularly visited the community), and more recent mediums and visitors who make up the ebb and flow of life in this tiny, tucked away spot along Cassadaga Lake – which, despite its small geographic size is actually probably the largest center for religious Spiritualism in the world!

Towards the end of the piece, you might recognize the person in the photo described as “Gorgeously tattooed and a with a spray of pale blue hair…” who is none other than Mandi Shepp, Library Director for the Marion H. Skidmore Library at Lily Dale! Mandi, as the article states, has accomplished so much to reinvigorate and bring life (pardon the unintended pun!) to this very special library. Mandi is also an active member of WNYLRC, having just finished a term on the Resource Sharing Committee and currently leading the Continuin Education Committee (with Co-Chair Erien Weller at B&ECPL), in launching WNYLRC’s first ever Unconference taking place on October 5, 2018!

The link to the article is here:



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