MEDFORD'S FREE LIBRARY AND WHAT IT MEANS
A Little History of the Public Library, Giving Its Growth and Purposes--
Carnegie Library Is Wanted and Steps Taken To Secure it.
MRS. B. P. THEISS
Our public library is destined to be a universal benefit to every man, woman and child in Medford and cannot be too highly estimated by every citizen. It attracts and develops the most desirable classes of society and raises the moral and cultural tone of a city.
The Greater Medford Club had planned for some time on starting a public library, but the incentive came in the person of Mrs. Kidder, a representative of the Oregon Library Commission, sent by that body to establish public libraries in cities, or install traveling libraries in more visited places. Mrs. Kidder arrived just as Medford was enjoying its first street carnival, August 5, 1907. She addressed the Ladies' Carnival Committee, which included most of the ladies of Medford. In the evening Mrs. Kidder met with the committee of the Commercial Club and set forth the needs of the library in a very convincing manner. As a result the Commercial Club promised their hearty support. Upon her return some two months later, November 24, 1907, she met with the Greater Medford Club, which then numbered forty members. The matter of a city library was then taken up in earnest and a committee appointed consisting of Mesdames Hollis, Merrick, Stoddard, [and] Van Dyke, to solicit donations from the business men, civic and social organizations. Each club member collected $5 for the library fund, and the result was about $550. A subscription library consisting of 200 volumes and several individual donations swelled the number of books to about 700.
For the government of the library there was a board of nine appointed, according to state law, by Mayor Reddy, consisting of J. F. Reddy, W. I. Vawter, Chas. King, J. E. Watt, Ed Andrews, Mrs. B. P. Theiss, H. C. Stoddard, F. E. Merrick, F. W. Hollis.
On July 7, 1908, the city council adopted a resolution establishing a public library. The offer of the council of the city hall room was accepted, in which quarters the library has held forth to the present day.
The Greater Medford Club has worked assiduously to keep pace with the rapidly growing demand for books, soliciting, giving dancing parties, lyceum courses and musical entertainments.
In January 1910, a book club was organized, the sixty members of which, by their $1 dues, supplying a fund for the purchase of many choice books. The novel scheme of "Block Day" deposited about $400 in the library exchequer. Then, as their latest financial project, through the courtesy of the Medford Mail Tribune, the ladies of the Greater Medford Club have assumed the management of this edition of May 15.
For a number of months the matter of a Carnegie library has been agitated. In fact, at a special election, a majority for charter amendment permitting the levying of a tax to support and maintain a Carnegie library was passed. Owing to the voluminous correspondence carried on with Mr. Bertram, Mr. Carnegie's secretary, and to the personal intercession of Mr. J. R. Allen upon his recent trip to New York, the hopes are high in Medford of the realization of a $20,000 library. If Mr. Carnegie could visit our beautiful valley, note the progress and see the invincible determination of every resident to make Medford a prosperous city, we are sure the donation of a public library would be speedily granted.
The present library board, composed of Mayor Canon, J. R. Allen, W. I .Vawter, Ed Andrews, J. E. Watt, Mrs. B. P. Theiss, F. E. Merrick, P. J. Neff and F. H. Hollis, have worked conscientiously to raise the tone of the reading public and have given special attention to juvenile books. The board realizes that the boys in their casual reading find some particular branch of study, in science, mathematics, art, etc., which arouses a sleeping instinct. Therefore, to meet an ever-increasing demand, many books have been purchased, treating of X-ray, electricity, wireless telegraphy, aeronautics, care of animals, etc. Who can predict but what Fultons, Marconis and Bells may be developed from the impetus given by these juvenile books of the Medford library? For reference work the library contains many excellent books on agriculture, horticulture, apiculture, mining, arts and crafts, biography, travel. Many sets of standard fiction also delight the bookworm.
As demonstration of the marvelous increase of our library activities, note the following facts: The number of books two years ago on the library shelves was 700; now the number comprising our library is 1,115. The average monthly circulation was formerly 400; now it is 900. The number of patrons has increased in proportion from 450 to 1,290. Thus from such small beginnings, along its strenuous uphill course, the history of the library may be traced; and its sturdy supporters, the Greater Medford Club, and the library boards, are to be congratulated by Medford's appreciative citizens for their courage, energy and public spirit.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 15, 1910, page C1
Miss Elizabeth Robinson, who has been librarian in Medford for a number of years, leaves tonight for St. Paul, Minn., where she has accepted a responsible position as librarian. Her place has been taken by Miss Clara Van Sant. Miss Robinson regretted leaving Medford, but the necessity of being nearer her parents who live in Sioux City, Iowa led her to take a position which has been held open for a long time. Miss Robinson has been a most efficient and obliging librarian and will be missed by a wide circle of friends.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, November 3, 1918, page 2
DEPARTURE OF LIBRARIAN IS DEPLORED
At the regular meeting of the library board of the city of Medford on Nov. 4, 1918 the following resolutions were adopted:
ResolutionsWhereas, Miss Elizabeth Robinson has resigned as librarian to accept a position in the public library of St. Paul, Minnesota; and,
Whereas, Miss Robinson has for over seven years given most efficient and faithful service to the community of Medford and has been most helpful to the patrons of the library; and,
Whereas, Miss Robinson has been largely instrumental in making of our library a community center;
Be it resolved that the library board of the city of Medford hereby express their deep regret at Miss Robinson's departure from our midst and extend to her their best wishes for success in her new field;
Be it further resolved that these resolutions be spread upon the minutes of the meeting and a copy of these resolutions be sent to Miss Robinson and that copies of the same be given to the newspapers of Medford.
SARA B. MEARS,Committee on behalf of the library board of Medford.
FRANKIE B. HOLLIS,
BELLE E. WARNER,
Medford Sun, November 10, 1918, page 2
Last revised May 15, 2010