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Craftsman begins work on bookcases for library

Using a little Old World craftsmanship, cabinetmaker Paul Gianino of Greenville is creating bookcases to house the Laupus Library's rare and historic collections. Photo by Cliff Hollis
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Dec. 16, 2003)   —   A second-generation classic cabinetmaker has begun making the bookcases to house the historic book collection of the Laupus Health Sciences Library.

Paul Gianino studied with his father for years and now has his own cabinetmaking workshop in Greenville. His father, the late Sebastian Gianino, studied with European masters to learn his craft and passed on his love of working with wood.

Gianino said his work is primarily 18th- and 19th-century restoration work and crafting pieces of furniture using the methods of those centuries. In other words, everything is handcrafted and made to last for generations.

The cabinets that Gianino and his assistants are working on will house the rare book collection of the Laupus Library in its present location and its future home slated for completion in December 2006.

"The hardest part of this project has been selecting the lumber," he said. Gianino analyzes each piece of curly maple to select the best grain for the cabinet doors. Even in its raw form, the wood is beautiful with its swirls in the grain.

Working as apprentices in Gianino's shop are an ECU art student majoring in wood design, Liz Anderson; Dr. Charles Daeschner, an ECU pediatric oncologist; a semi-retired dentist, Dr. Dick Evans; and an ECU foreign languages associate professor, Steve Dock - an interesting mix, all working on the bookcases.

Daeschner began working in Gianino's shop a few years ago when he helped Gianino repair a piece of Daeschner's family furniture. Now, Daeschner has several projects lined up to work on himself. It's relaxing and "a way to keep me out of trouble," he said with a chuckle.

Dr. Dorothy Spencer, director of the Laupus Library, said she was pleased that the library is working with a local craftsman for the project.

"When Ruth Moskop (curator of history collections) and I visited his studio, we discovered that not only does he restore furniture and build original furniture but he also has an incredible knowledge of historical furniture of eastern North Carolina," she said. "He's the perfect man for this job."

In the coming years, Gianino will also build more elaborate cabinets to house the additional volumes and artifacts of the historic collection in the new library.

"The history collection is growing and we needed cases to house new gifts about to arrive in Greenville," Spencer said. "We felt there was no need to buy cheap bookcases that we would only be able to use in our current library.

"Working with the architect for the new library, we were able to give Paul the dimensions to get new bookcases we could use for this temporary location and then move them into their permanent place in the new library," she said.

Spencer added: "The cost of this first set of eight handmade bookcases is coming from private funds given to the library. No state funds will be used for this project."

The library plans to raise the rest of the funding needed to complete the cabinetry for the new library's history room and have Gianino compete the rest of the project, Spencer said.

"It's going to be wonderful when it's completed," she said.


Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-744-2481