Library History


Villisca’s New Free Repository of Knowledge Formally Opened to the Public
As published in The Villisca Review, Villisca, Iowa, Thursday, February 11, 1909

     The dedication of Villisca’s new free public library took place at the M. E. Church in this city last Friday evening, and marked a crowning event in the history of library work here. The evening furnished an occasion when every one expressed great satisfaction over the results, and the Villisca library boards, the old and the new, are entitled to a great deal of credit for the splendid performance of the labors imposed upon them.
     The program for the afternoon and evening was carried out practically as previously announced. In the afternoon the school children from the Lincoln school were received as the library building and listed to short addresses by Mrs. H.M. Towner of Corning, a member of the state library commission, Mrs. H.W. Ingman, and Supt. H.A. Glackemeyer.
     The dedication proper took place in the evening, commencing at eight o’clock. The program opened with a very excellent vocal trio by Mrs. E.C. Hough, Mrs. H.A. Larson and Miss Minnie Moore. They were assisted at the piano by Miss Jessie Frances Smith. Invocation was offered by Rev. Enoch Hill, pastor of the M.E. church. Then followed an historical review of the Villisca library association by Mrs. C.E. Matteson, which was a very interesting and entertaining paper. Mrs. Matteson stated that on September 18, 1899, seventeen Villisca ladies accepted the trust of 500 books from the old Y.M.C.A. library which was the nucleus of Villisca’s free public library. These books were moved to the basement of the First National Bank, where a room was donated for library purposes by the bank free of rent.  There for over nine years every Saturday books were sent out without cost save for a small membership fee. In the fall of 1900 the board inaugurated the first of their series of lecture courses which have proven the most popular winter entertainments the city now has. These courses, up to but not including the present one, have netted for the library association the neat sum of $1015.34, of which $150 has been spent. This money will probably be used to buy more books.
     Mr. B.F. Fast, chairman of the building committee and treasurer of the board, then read a report of the building committee, and his paper was probably the most interesting one of the evening. Mr. Fast’s report is subjoined to this article. It will be noted that after all expenses have been paid, there is still a balance on hand of $16.55, a performance which Miss Tyler, secretary of the state library commission, says is to the best of her knowledge and belief without precedence. Of course, the donation of the site by W. S. Alger has tended to greatly diminish the first cost of constructing a library of this nature.
     Mayor E.C. Gibbs, in a free and graceful manner, without notes or other memoranda, made a very excellent presentation speech in handing over the keys of the library to the present board. Mrs. Alger accepted the trust on behalf of the board. Right here it is fair to say that all credit is due to Mrs. Alger, whose work in promoting a free public library at Villisca has been indefatigable.
     Miss Tyler, who spoke following Mrs. Alger, paid the Villisca library board several very high but well deserved compliments. The principal address of the evening was by Judge Towner of Corning and was a creditable effort which was listened to much interest by the audience.
     William Orr of Clarinda was introduced just before Judge Towner took the platform and explained the manner of procedure in securing a tax in adjacent townships to gain for them the same free privileges of the library that the city of Villisca will enjoy. As it is at present, persons living outside the city limits must pay the small membership fee of one dollar a year to borrow books although they are welcome to the use of the reading rooms without charge.
     Dr. W.A. Lomas, as chairman of the evening’s excellent program, acquitted himself exceedingly well. The Villisca library, as will be seen from the subjoined report, cost entire $9983.45. It is located on Third Avenue just north of the First National bank and faces the east. The furniture and finishings are elegant, the walls and ceilings are handsomely frescoed and cork carpets are on the floors. The electric fixtures are fitted with green shades and the polished oak tables and chairs are worthy of the best drawing rooms in the land. Miss Frankie Barker, the librarian, presides at a desk directly in front of the main entrance. On the left as one enters is the adults' reading room with a wide open entryway, supplied mostly with works of fiction of the leading authors of all times and containing two tables and chairs.
     On the right is the children's reading room, supplied with juvenile works of various kinds and low tables and chairs especially designed for the little folk. Behind the adults reading room is an enclosed room with table and reference works where one may go and have quiet. Behind the librarian's desk is the stack room with a long table and books of a miscellaneous nature. In the northwest corner of the building is the librarian's private retiring room furnished with work table, cloakroom, wash stand, book lift and other convenient fixtures. The basement is not yet finished but will eventually be fitted up with a farmers' restroom. The library is furnace heated, and Wm. McCoy has the position of janitor. There is at present shelf room in the building for 8,000 books. The library now contains 2,000. There are 201 cards in circulation, which entitle the holders to the free use of books in their own homes for from two to four weeks. The books are all nicely arranged in the shelves and completely catalogued, this work having been done by State Secretary Miss Tyler assisted by Miss Barker and other ladies of the board. 
     Villisca ought to be proud of its library. It is a fine building and is in the hands of a board that is perfectly competent in every respect. The report of the building committee as read by Mr. Fast is as follows:
On June 10 received      $ 2800.00
Received August 8           3000.00
Received October 9          2400.00
Received November 25    1800.00
Making a total of          $10,000.00
The original contract price of the building was $ 8179.05
After the contract was accepted changes were made improving the building requiring the additional expenditure of  $194.07
Plans and specifications                    $200.00
Total cost of building                      $8573.12
Installing heating plant                        238.68
Plumbing                                            234.29
Electric lighting                                    202.70
Furniture                                             348.73
Cork carpet and window shades            208.17
Printing                                                 21.30
Sundries and fixtures                            156.46
Total cost of building, etc., entire        $9983.45
Balance on hand    $16.55