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    Posted October 9, 2006

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Lonergan Library Logs 20 Years in Chicago

The Ray Lonergan Memorial Library, located at the Equity offices in Chicago (, celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Central Regional Membership Meeting on October 6, 2006.

Founded in 1986 by friends and colleagues of actor/teacher Ray Lonergan, who died suddenly of a heart attack while appearing that year at Melody Top Theatre in Milwaukee, the library is a valuable resource for the working actor. According to the mission statement, "Our goal is to help actors find new monologues, scenes for class and to read a play before the audition. We are neither a research library, nor archives. Our purpose is to help the actor get that job!" More than that, it is a library for actors run by actors. It is not open to the public.

Camilla Hawk and Iris Lieberman in the library

Ray Lonergan's extensive personal collection included almost 2,000 scripts and books of plays. After his death, a group of his friends formed a committee, raised money, bought shelving and catalogued the material. Over the years, the library has more than tripled in size thanks to additional donations, including one in 2002 of 4,000 scripts, videos, audio cassettes and sheet music from actor/director/playwright/producer Sidney Eden, a recent gift of CDs and DVDs from Equity member Leonard Weiner, who moved into a retirement home in 2006 and wanted Equity to have his collection, and two boxes of scripts from longtime Councillor Carl Harms, who died in 2005.

Mr. Eden's contribution also includes several first editions, biographies and other rare material plus a complete collection of the writings of New York theatre critic George Jean Nathan, a ten-volume set of The 100 Lost American Plays, cassettes of recorded plays, including every Shakespeare drama, and various books and publications about design, production and criticism. In addition, there are nearly 2,000 scripts, as well as sheet music, going back as far as the 1900s. Mr. Weiner added more than 300 CDs of cast albums and hundreds of DVDs. Today, the Ray Lonergan Memorial Library contains more than 6,000 works.

The library is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most of the material may be taken out, although some of the rare items are available for reference only in the library, which operates under the honor system. Members may borrow up to six books at a time and hold them for up to a week. Copies may be made for $ .10 a page by the Equity receptionist.

(L-R) Iris Lieberman, Chair of the Lonergan Library Committee, receives a commemorative plaque from Central Regional Director Kathryn V. Lamkey, Central Regional VP Dev Kennedy

As the library celebrates its 20th anniversary Equity is justifiably proud of its longevity, growth and the fact that it is in daily use in the Chicago office. Nevertheless, Iris Lieberman, Chair of the Library Committee, has a wish list. She would like a CD player with head phones and money to buy scripts of plays running on Broadway and to expand the collection of ethnic plays, and she would like additional volunteers to help with cataloging, shelving and data entry on the website.

How to Help
Donations, which are tax deductible through the Actors' Equity Foundation, may be made payable to the Ray Lonergan Library, c/o Actors' Equity, 125 South Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60603. For further information, or to volunteer, contact Iris Lieberman at or visit the library website at Other members of the Lonergan Library Committee include Buddy King, Camilla Hawk, Connie McGrail and Ira Carol.

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