The library staff had no idea what was in their attic, according to Sophia Litle, 18, the former Girl Scout who sorted, authenticated and catalogued the artifacts with the help of Hurley and an official authenticator she brought on.
"They're pieces of history and they're so valuable to our knowledge of the past and our surrounding area," Litle said. "These are all local (pieces) so I think we should preserve our history and show it to everyone."
Litle, a Lynn resident and Swampscott High School graduate, earned the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting, last April for her efforts. She and other Gold Star recipients from across the commonwealth will be honored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts at the State House in June.
To earn the Gold Award, Litle said a Girl Scout has to complete a community service project that is sustainable for three to five years. She approached former Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy a few years ago to inquire about projects going on in the city and learned about the work needed at the library.
"I'm really into history, so when I first heard of this project, I thought it was perfect for me," Litle said. "It was just so much fun. It was meant for me."
Litle, a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, said past librarians had been placing objects donated or accumulated over the years in the attic.
One of the items found was a John Hancock signature, which library staff didn't know was there. There were also various maps of local cities, and portraits and paintings of places in Lynn and Nahant. Some of the work included researching the history of the items and documenting them, Litle said.
"We have a lot of items," Hurley said. "I'm convinced back in the day, librarians were hoarders. It's a daunting task, trying to organize."
Hurley said at least 20 items were found and appraised, and are now either stored in a more organized fashion in the attic or displayed around the library. Some items found included old journals and law books from the mid-1800s.
The most valuable thing discovered was worth about $2,500, but most of the stuff is more valuable to the library or city than it would be in general, Hurley said.
"She did a lot of great work," Hurley said. "I think it's great to have an organization like the Girl Scouts come in and volunteer their time to do a project that does have an impact on the community. Going forward, the library will have documentation on these things, historical information on it."
A showing for the artifacts was held at the library last spring.
Litle said she's excited for the upcoming ceremony at the State House. Girl Scouts has made her who she is today, by going to troop meetings and learning skills through acquiring various badges. She remains involved with the organization, working with Girl Scouts as one of her philanthropies through her college sorority, Kappa Delta.
"Sophia's Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting, is the result of her extraordinary leadership, innovative ideas, and many months of hard work to benefit her hometown of Lynn," said Carrie Weatherbee, chief membership services officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, in a statement.
"Making lasting change in the community takes the true courage, confidence and character of a Gold Award Girl Scout, and we congratulate Sophia on this prestigious achievement."