April 13th, 1958 will mark the 50th or golden anniversary of the Springfield Public Library. As our city approaches that date, its citizens are preparing to dedicate a beautiful modern library building which will adequately serve the city of Springfield for years in the future.

Embodied within the walls of this new structure and the books it contains, are found the results of labors and dreams of many Springfield past and present citizens.

This building stands as a living memorial to all of those who have given of themselves in any measure to create, foster and produce a library of which the whole city can be justly proud.

Some years ago I gave a promise to Mrs. Elizabeth Page who has since passed away that I would collaborate with her in writing a history of the Springfield Public Library. I am now fulfilling that obligation.

I have known personally with very few exceptions, the individuals who have made this story and it has been a pleasure to renew these acquaintances in memory. It has been impossible to mention all who have given of their best for the “library cause," but those who resided here or their descendants can see with pride the “fruit of those labors.”

The story which follows is the true history of the Springfield Library–its beginning, youth and maturity, as it approaches the golden years.

The story is written in minute detail so that we may see with appreciation that which has been created.

The day of April 13, 1908 the ladies of Springfield held a mass meeting at the Methodist Church 2nd and B streets for the purpose of formulating plans fore the establishment of a public library.  Mrs. Paul Bettelheim was elected president of the group, Mrs. Elizabeth Page, secretary, and Mrs. Harry Stewart, treasurer. At the second meeting of the ladies, Miss Cornelia Marvin, secretary of the state library commission, suggested the city hall as a proper location fort the city library.  She also volunteered to send a traveling library of 50 volumes.

The Springfield ladies, realizing money to be the first requisite in their tremendous venture, began a long series of fund raising projects. The first of these was an Election Day dinner. A letter and ten tickets were sent to each of the various state and county candidates requesting their financial assistance in establishing a public library. The sum of $65.10 was netted as a result of the energetic work of committees and the ladies of Springfield generally.

A committee consisting of Mrs. Harry Stewart, Mrs. Will Cheshire and Mrs. Mary Martin was successful in securing the city hall as a library location. Mrs. Martin was elected to be the first librarian. Miss Marvin sent the promised 50 volume traveling library and a year's subscription to the Oregon Monthly, which company itself donated 100 sample magazines. Public donations and pledged donations were received from interested citizens and thus the Springfield Library came into being. Its doors were open to the patrons on Saturdays from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. The struggle to keep this library functioning and serving its patrons will be revealed proudly in this story.

The ladies ordered new books for the library when-ever funds permitted, through' M. M. Peery, a local druggist. All manner of plans were laid for raising money--the first of these projects being a bazaar which netted $53.67.  Donations from local business firms and individuals were being received so Mrs. N. W. Emery (wife of the local dentist) agreed to canvass the city for "new subscribers" to the library.  Miss Alice Kester (now Mrs. George Perkins) offered her services free of charge to act as librarian once each week thus enabling the library to be open twice weekly.

In February, 1909 the "library association" voted to move the library from the city hall to a room above the photograph gallery - the rent to be $2.00 per month. It remained this location only four months. The association sought and received exclusive use of the city hall for Saturday afternoon and evening so the library was moved back to its former location by the Rychard Express for 50c.

In 1909 the association voted that the librarian - Miss Alice Kester be paid a monthly salary of $2.

In December 1909 a bazaar raised some funds for expenses and private citizens promised to make monthly donations. Mrs. Elizabeth Page and Miss Kester arranged for repair and cataloguing of books.

In June 1910 the library association held an ice cream social on the park square opposite the post office at 2nd and Main streets. Entertainment consisted of a band concert, ice cream and candy booths and fortune telling. Mrs. Clark was elected librarian to succeed Miss Kester.

Later in the summer of 1910 library bills totaled $60.86 with assets at $40.00 so another entertainment consisting of "The Tom Thumb Wedding" and "Old Maids Convention" was given at the Opera House, 3rd and Main streets. Admission charges of 35 cents and 50 cents produced $72.00 for the library treasury.

Children under the age of 12 were barred from library privileges.

In June 1911 the library association held a social afternoon reception at the home of President Mrs. Lida McGowan (mother of Mrs. Henry Korf).  This particular event aided the library funds by $15. New books were purchased to be known as one week books. They were loaned at the rate of 5 cents per week.

In September 1911 the library association discussed means of raising more money for the library. Up to this date all funds had been received by public donations, subscription and many types of entertainments and fund raising projects. The ladies decided to prepare a petition to present to the city council asking that a ½  mill tax be levied to help finance the public library. At the same time the ladies planed an entertainment bazaar and tag-day to raise money. The sale of tags netted $30.35.

In January 1912 Mayor Welby Stevens appointed the first Library Board. The appointees were Mrs. W. J. Barnes, president; Mr. W. Lepley vice president; Mrs. L. K. Page, secretary; Mr. E. E. Morrison, treasurer; and Mrs. N. W. Emery the latter three to frame a constitution and by-laws. Mrs. Hannah Hill was appointed librarian with a salary of $2 per week--the library to be open Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and evenings.

On January 22, 1912 a ½ mill tax was allowed by the city council. This was the first government financial assistance received by the Springfield Public Library.

Again the library was moved. The new location selected was upstairs in the Commercial State Bank building at 4th and Main streets. February 1912 was set as the date for a house warming to be given in the Winzenreed-Perry hall at that location.

The first regular meeting of the board of library directors was held March 5, 1912. This board sponsored by the Miller Carnival company and received proceeds of $119.25 which was used to purchase a new table and books.

At the April 1913 meeting no bills were allowed because of lack of funds yet the board voted to purchase the International Year Book. This incident clearly shows optimism in the face of adversity. A library benefit Minstrel performance at the Bell Theater aided the library treasury by $19.75. In June 1913 the library books were all fumigated.

The beginning of a new fiscal year arrived July 1st, 1913 and with it $557.42 for the treasury. Two newspapers were donated to the Springfield Library in August, 1913, The Springfield News and the Lane County Star.

The library was opened on Sunday but there were so few patrons this plan was soon abandoned.

Mrs. N. W. Emery (local dentist's wife) was elected president of the library board in April 1914 which position she held for 16 years.

The city council suggested moving the library to the city hall but after discussion the library board decided "no" that accommodations at the city hall were not suitable. Instead the board secured the M. M. Peery building between 2nd and 3rd streets. (now second hand store west of Station Service and railroad tracks) rent and utilities to be $12 per month.

The first fire insurance was placed on the library books in the amount of $400 in 1914. Books continued to be ordered through M. M. Peery, local druggist.

By 1915 the librarian's salary had risen to $9 per month. New books were also ordered to be used as supplementary reading in the high school.

In the winter of 1916 the Booth Kelly mill gave the first of many donations of wood for heating purposes to the Springfield Library.  These contributions were gratefully received for several years.

The library finances were still in great measure a community voluntary project.  The Springfield Theater management offered 50 per cent of an evening’s profits and the Christmas Cantata committee presented a gift of $8.

By March 1917 the librarian reported a circulation of 946 books loaned, and 230 visitors for the month. 

The Library board voted in 1918 to pay the librarian for overtime work at the rate of 25 cents an hour. This amount was raised to 35 cents the following year.

Mr. Peery asked for an increase in rent in 1921 so the library board voted to permit the use of the building for any meetings which might benefit the city a charge to be made for lights. Mrs. Emery and the librarian Mrs. Hill met with the council to discuss financial matters. It seems that the ladies felt that funds from the city coffers were not always turned over to the library as they should be.

A benefit moving picture show (now the cinema) swelled the treasury by $34.96. The entire amount was used to purchase new books.

The library in 1922 was being used by the Ladies Civic club, churches and a nursing class. It became necessary to close for a few weeks to allow for repairing, cleaning and fumigation of books.

Cash donations were still being received from local citizens and new books were purchased with these funds.

Mrs. Hannah Hill tendered her resignation as librarian in 1922 and Miss Mary Roberts was elected to succeed her at the same salary of 35 cents per hour.

Although many book donations were being received from local citizens, the library board sponsored a book shower by inserting an invitation in the local paper, telling friends of the library that books would be received with thanks.

Another benefit moving picture show netted the library treasury $37. In 1923 the need for a World Almanac and a Book on Etiquette was felt so these books were purchased.  Because of increased duties the librarian's salary had risen, to $18 per month.

Funds were received from an ice cream sale so the library board decided to sell ice cream at the Saturday afternoon and evening sessions of the library.

In 1919 the Women's Civic Improvement League (the present Civic Club) was organized in Springfield by ladies who wished to increase public spirit and beautify and improve all residential and business property. They chose the red geraniun as the city flower of Springfield This group also earned its funds by hard work and many generous contributions through the years to the Springfield Public Library.  The first of theses donations was $43.25.  Their assistance was received with grateful thanks

The members of the library board even fined their own members 5 cents for being tardy to meetings. It took money and hard work to keep the library open and functioning so every avenue of income was exploited.

By January 1924 Circulation of books, magazines and Periodicals had risen to 1058 monthly.

To add to the comfort of the librarian a revolving chair was purchased from Wright and Sons for $14 less 10 per cent for cash.

The old magazines belonging to the library were sold and $2.62 was realized from them. A "book day" was held in October 1924 and many volumes were donated by local citizens.

The election board and city PTA requested and were granted use of the library in November. Subscriptions to the following magazines were ordered: Geographic, Booklist, Western Story, Popular Mechanics, American, Woman's Home Companion, American Boy, Everybody's House and Garden, Youth's Companion and Literary Digest. The librarian's salary was $21 per month and the building was open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The beginning of 1925 showed a treasury balance of $27.40 and a circulation of 2223. Mrs. Page and Mrs. Emery discussed an increase of the librarian's salary with Mayor Bushman and also inquired why the $5 rent for use of the library building by the counting board on election day had not been received by the board.

A new library ruling was established to the effect that children over 10 years of age must be recommended by their parents. All children who sign library cards must have the signature of their parents also.

Mr. Douglas of the U. of O. offered to assist the board with book repairing and invited them to visit the university to see how the work was done there.

A picture show and food sale were held in March 1925 to bolster library funds. A Mr. McKinnon contacted the library board concerning night school in the library rooms. Miss Roberts, the librarian, was appointed to interview him concerning the kind of school he wished to conduct. The board agreed to permit the gentleman to use the rooms three evenings each week at $1 per night on a one month's trial basis.

The librarian's salary was raised to $24 a month, Books now needed binding but the board thought it best to first investigate the financial condition of the library. Two members of the board met with Mr. Jack Larson, owner of the Bell Theater to discuss a moving picture library benefit. The play, “Way Down East" was given October 8th, 1925 and the library’s share of the proceeds after expenses was $11.50.

Mrs. Emery, library board president, suggested that the  board meet  with the council to discuss financial matters but Mr. R. Smith, city recorder, thought it best not to see the council at this particular time.

By February 1926 the library board realized it had not received its full amount of revenue from taxes because tax money had not been collected, so new books were purchased just a few at a time.

An April 261926 food sale showed a profit of $15.35 to help bolster library funds.

An $800 insurance policy was written for the library in 1926.

The financial situation in February 1927, showed a balance of $4.88 in the library treasury yet new books in the amount of $44.23 were ordered the following March. The Civic club sent in a donation of $10 and through their efforts 42 books were donated.  Some books had been destroyed by the flood but the library board deceded not to charge for these.

M.M. Peery offered to paper the room providing the library would remain in his building.

The board purchased a set of Roosevelt's Complete Works which depleted the treasury to a balance of two cents. The board also decided to purchase not over 10 new books at this time and each member of the board was invited to donate two books.

At the request of the board Mrs. Clark Wheaton offered the service of the Girl Scouts two hours each library day.

Because some thoughtless young people were annoying readers, it was thought necessary that "no loitering" and "no visiting" signs be printed for use in the library. The librarian was given authority to order any disorderly person out of the room.

January, 1928, found the board members planning to seek a new location for the library and then to close it indefinitely. The mayor, however, advised the board to remain at the present location and reopen after renovations and repairs were made. The library would be open three days each week until the close of school.

In May, 1928, the Civic club once again came to the library's aid with a gift of $20 and 14 books.

Miss Cornelia Marvin, state librarian, promised the board she would send a cataloguist.

Again the library board voted to move the library if the council would be willing and reasonable rent couId be found. It was decided that on November 1, 1928, the library would be moved to the old First National Bank building (Second and Main streets.) - the rent to be $20 per month. Mr. Hancock and M. J. McKlin were allowed $16 for moving.

A tea profited $8.81 to help defray expenses. Miss Lombard was granted permission to use the library to hold a tea, this time for the benefit of the Springfield High school library.

Jack Larson offered to put on a moving picture show, giving the library all profits. "The Shepherd of the Hills" was the movie and it was a success with more than 300 people in attendance, giving the Library a profit of $22.75. The school children sold tickets, assisted by Mrs. Ora Hemenway, Mrs. Opal Roberts, Miss Crystal Bryan, Mrs. Elizabeth Page and Mrs. Edna Platt.  New books were then purchased for the library in the amount of $22.40.

The board made it known that the library would not be responsible for State Library books unless such books were ordered through the local library.

In October, 1929, Mrs. McLean was elected librarian although Mrs. Pearle Clark served in that capacity until February 1, 1930, when she resigned and was replaced by Mrs. Saltsman.

The Civic club presented another substantial gift of $20 to the library.

Mrs. Ogevie was tendered a sincere vote of thanks from the board for securing magazine subscriptions at a low rate and allowing the library her percentage of commissions.

During July and August of 1930 the library was closed. In November of that year a ruling became necessary that if a book fine is owed by one member of a family no other member may withdraw books until such fine is paid.

In March, 1931, a standing committee for the purchase of books was named - Mrs. Clark Wheaton, Mrs. Bertha Rouse and Mrs. Elisabeth Page.

The city recorder reported $192.45 library cash on hand in October, 1931. Twenty-five dollars was immediately spent on new books, mostly children's. A benefit silver tea at the home of Mrs. N. W. Emery showed a profit of $8 and the Ladies’ Civic club came forward with another gift of $10.

The librarian, Mrs. Saltsman, requested the board to accept her warrant so that her salary might be paid from money collected from donations and fines.

Mrs. Emery asked the First National Bank board of directors for lower library rent. While this matter was being taken under advisement William Hancock was paid $2.50 by the library board for scrubbing the floor, washing the numerous windows, splitting wood, cleaning part of the yard and putting in two cords of wood.

The library being unsuccessful in securing lower rent was moved in January, 1933, to a new location on the north side of Main st. between Fourth and Fifth. In May the Civic club donated $6.20 with which to purchase books. The following January the club made another gift of $14.50.

The library board voted to ask 25 cents per month rental for use of the library window for a photographer's display. Various organizations in the city were asked for either a donation of a book or the price of a book.

In January, 1936, Mrs. N. W. Emery tendered her resignation as president of the library board, having served in that capacity for over 16 years. The doctor and Mrs. Emery were moving to Portland. Mrs. Clark Wheaton succeeded her as president.

In 1936, Miss Long, state librarian visited the local library and made suggestions for improving its appearance.

Mrs. Lillie Peters was selected to take Mrs. Saltsman's place as librarian just during the summer of 1937. She was replaced by Mrs. Faye Whitney.

A benefit card party realized $10 profit and donations of $1.75 from the Lions club $1.50 from the Kensington club, and a load of wood from Booth-Kelly were gratefully received in 1938.

In February, 1939, the library board decided to request $15 from the city council to be used for the purchase of book mending materials.  The old magazines were given to Oakridge.

The library board president, Mrs. Clark Wheaton, Mrs. Saltsman, librarian, and Mrs. Elizabeth Page, secretary, attended a county library meeting held in Eugene at which four small libraries were represented - Oakridge, Marcola, Creswell and Springfield.

In 1939, cleaning and repair work at the library were done with PWA help.

An anniversary tea was planned to celebrate the founding of the library on April 13, 1908. The Civic club cooperated in formulating plans for this affair. The program consisted of a skit  written by Mrs. Faye Whitney; a group singing led by Mrs Sherman Potter; organ selections by Lester Hulin; an address by Dr. McCormick of the Methodist church; early history of the library by Mrs. Hubert Walker (daughter-in-law of Springfield’s first mayor)and a librarian's reminisences by Mrs. Pearle Clark.

In October, 1939, the library was moved to a new location in the rear of the Commercial State Bank building (South Fourth street), the rent to be $25 per month.

In 1941, Mrs. Clark Wheaton resigned after serving as president of the library board for almost five years. She was succeeded by Mrs. Faye Whitney who soon moved away. Mrs. Whitney was replaced by Mrs. Ella Lombard in 1942.

In that year there was a noticeable drop in circulation due to labor conditions and the war situation.

Mrs. Saltsman tendered her resignation after 15 years service as librarian. Mrs. Lillian Parkhurst was elected to fill the vacancy.

The bank officials in June, 1943, notified the library board that the room occupied by the library was needed by the bank, so the library was moved again to a new location in the Oddfellows building annex (North Fourth street) on the first of July, 1943.

The library board requested and received in 1944 additional money from the city in order that the library might remain open to the public more hours per week. The librarian’s salary was raised to $50 per month which provided service to the patrons every weekday but Friday.

Miss Eleanor Stephens, state librarian, wrote the local library in regard to post-war planning.

In February, 1945, it was decided that in fairness to the city taxpayers and patrons, out-of-town readers must make a deposit of $1 a year for library privileges.  It was found necessary to raise this fee to $1.50 in later years and at this writing the amount remains the same for out-of-town library patrons.

The University of Oregon library gave 125 books on various subjects to the local library.

In 1946, the librarian requested an increase of $15 per month, which would raise her salary to $65 monthly.

Mrs. Liman Parkhurst tendered her resignation in August, 1947, and Mrs. Josephine Matsler was elected to succeed her.

In 1948, a library auxiliary, which functioned for some time, was formed to offer assistance to the library.

In 1949 the library as moved to the new city hall (Fourth and North A streets.) In a room especially constructed for the library, where it has remained until this January, 1958.

Mrs. Veva Morgan became the assistant librarian to Mrs. Matsler on October 20, 1949. The latter retired January 1, 1956, and Mrs. Morgan assumed the office of city librarian on that date.

In January, 1955, the first concrete steps toward the construction of  a new library were taken. A meeting of the library board and all interested persons was held for the purpose of discussing the needs for a new and larger library to adequately serve the people of Springfield. This meeting was followed by an intensive campaign of educating and selling the public on the imperative need for a new library. Brochures, slides and plans were efficiently presented to the public by Mayor Edward C. Harms, Jr.; City Manager Bob Turner and Donald Lutes, architect.  It would be impossible to mention all of the citizens who gave of their time and efforts in behalf of the new library.

In November, 1956, at the general election, the City of Springfield approved a $150,000 bond issue for the purpose of purchasing a site, building, furnishing and landscaping a new library.

After very careful consideration of several locations the library board recommended to the city council, the purchase of the Spong property at the northeast corner of Third and North A streets as a suitable site for the new proposed library. This land and the lot to the east adjoining the city fire station were acquired for approximately $17,000.  The building itself cost $118,000 and the remainder of the $150,000 bond issue will be needed for furnishings, landscaping and architect fees.

The new library contains 9,000 square feet of floor space, a children's modern library, lounge, reading room, meeting room, offices, work rooms, staff rooms, rest rooms and a valuable coin collection presented to the new library by Dr. W. N. Dow.

The staff at present consistreets of Mrs Veva Morgan, librarian; Mrs. S. Elizabeth Bennett, in charge of circulation; Mrs, Martha McCorkle, children’s librarian, and Miss Dorothy Ebner, library aide.

Respectful tribute is given to Mrs. Elizabeth Page, former teacher, who served the Springfield, library as its secretary for 43 years and many others who have contributed of their time, efforts and resources to bestow upon this new library a heritage of faithful service.

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