History of the Wooster Public Library and Museum
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Original 1905 History of the Wooster Public Library and Museum, written by Henry D. Stauffer
History of the Wooster Public Library and Museum[edit | edit source]
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The Wooster Public Library and Museum is the delightful fruitage of fruitful philanthropic tokens.
In 1895 a number of Wooster ladies under the leadership of Miss Edella E. Bennett, organized The Woman's Christian Association, with local aims only. One of the most important features of this organization was a room supplied with books and periodicals for the use of the general public. The principle purpose of this room and its supplies was to offer some inducement to those whom might be wandering the streets to enter and engage in reading wholesome literature and thus, perhaps be saved from some of the evils which so often dwell in the public highways of this city. From time to time prayer services were held in the adjoining room. But by and by interest in the worthy enterprise waned; funds for its maintenance were procured with difficulty and abandonment seemed inevitable. In this trying and critical moment, Miss Bennet appealed and Mrs. George J. Schwartz who with generous and earnest spirit at once came to the rescue and raised about $500 with which to carry on this lost noble work. Mrs. George J. Schwartz and Miss Harriet M. Whitford also interested themselves at this time, and by giving attention to the library aid only, more books and periodicals were gathered, hard and disagreeable labors were performed by them, and thus the Public Library began to have a being. However something of a more permanent and organized character was necessary, and in 1897 a number of citizens of Wooster, after due notices has been published met and organized the Wooster Free Library Association. The organization was completed by electing a Board of Trustees who should direct the affairs of the library and be responsible for it. The following persons were elected as said to Board:
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Mr. James Mullins, Mr. George Schwartz, A.D. Metz, Esq., Prof. Charles Hampent (Haupert), Prof. W. J. Bennett, Mr. Lehr Craighead, Miss Harriet M. Whitford. The Board organized by electing the following officers: President, James Mullins, Vice President, Prof. Bennett, Treasurer, George J. Schwartz, Secretary Prof. Hampent (Haupert). In a short time a charter for the Association was obtained and the members appointed a Reading room and Library committee consisting of the following persons: Mrs. George J. Schwartz, Miss Harriet M. Whitford, Miss Lucy Sabolt, Dr. John A. Gann, Prof. Hampent (Haupert). During this important period the success of the i[e]nterprise depended largely upon the committee and their efforts. That it lives was due to their faithful nourishing. The v[f]inancial support of the Library was at once, as is usually the condition, a perplexing problem. A subscription for library purposes was at once taken. an appeal was made to the City Council and 1898—99 the Council gave the desired aid, the Citizens generally giving their approval. By this time larger rooms were necessary and men an once secured, on the second floor of the building and the South corner of East Liberty and Buckeye street. The library idea had developed into organized form and a regular library was installed. Miss Bertha Elsperman was secured to give her services to the work. After her Mrs. Henry McBride was engaged and for five years gave faithful attendance to the growing work. At first books and periodicals could be read only in the rooms, later could be loaned, and the circulation of a first class literary by this method began. Still the question of pecuniary support was all absorbing. Just then a discovery was made. A certain statute of Ohio gives the Board of Education the privilege of levying a tax for the support of the public libraries. The Wooster board of Education was approached and the immediately granted the request and proce[e]ded to aid the Trustees in maintaining the Free Library. This was done in 1900. The Library continued to grow in natural proportions and favor with the people.
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Patronage increased steadily. On January 6, 1903 the Annual election of the Trustees of the Association occurred; the following person being elected: James Mullins, George J. Schwartz, Charles Haupert, Frank Miller, A. D. Metz, William O. Beebe and H. D. Stauffer. This board met on the afternoon of January 7th 1903 in the office of Mr.Metz and organized by electing the following officers: President James Mullins, Vice Pres. William O. Beebe, Treas. George J. Schwartz, Sec. H. D. Stauffer. After adjournment of this meeting, in an informal way, Mr. Mullins was requested to correspond with Mr. Andrew Carnegie and solicit funds for a new library building. Mr. Mullins vianaly [finally] conc[s]ented, and the next day wrote Mr. Carnegie. In a short time a favorable reply came from Mr. Carnegie and an offer of $12000. It was then decided by the Board that Mr. Mullins write Mr. Carnegie and ask him to increase the gift to $15000 which he did. Steps were at once taken to to procure a suitable site upon which to erect the new building. After no small amount of investigation and most carful s[c]onsideration, the Board purchased from Mr. F. Larwell, the N.W. Corner lot on North Market and west Larwell streets for the sum of $1800. In Competition of architect, the plans submitted by Mr. Vernon Redding of Mansfield, Ohio, men were selected and his service engaged at a compensation of $525. In s[c]ompetition of contractors, the bid of John H. King of Galion, Ohio, was the lowest, and the contract for the construction of the new building was awarded to him, price $14463.75. In fact all the work was in competition and by contract: Plumbing $393. Hardware $208.18, Furnace $275. Wiring $248.40, Gas and electric fixtures $208. Stocks $570. Stone walks $90. At a meeting held April 13, 1903 the Board of Trustees expressed themselves as favorable to a change, and by formal notion decided to act under a statute found in Vol. 96 Laws of extra sessions page 8. instead of being governed by the statute under which the
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Association was operating. A committee of which the Presidents should be one, the others to be appointed by him was at once ordered to confer with the Board of Education of Wo[o]ster School District relative to a change and transfer of the Library to them. The Board of Education at a meeting held May 21, 1903 accepted the proposition of the Trustees of the Library Association and assumed the responsibility of the Library and appointed the following persons as Trustees of the Wooster Public Library and Museum: Mr. James Mullins, Mr. F. W. Miller, Capt. W. O. Beebe, Prof. Charles Haupert, Mr. George J. Schwartz, A. D. Metz Esq., and Rev. Henry D. Stauffer. On May 26, 1903 the Trustees of Wooster Public Library and Museum met and organized by electing the following officers: Pres. James Mullins, Vice Pres. A. D. Metz, Treasurer Geo. J. Schwartz, Sec. H. D. Stauffer. At the request of the Board the President appointed H. D. Stauffer, A. D. Metz and William O. Beebe, a committee to from statements(?) by which the Library and Museum should be governed. The new Library building was not erected with the utmost haste. Winter set in and work s[c]ould not be carried on. Material was not furnished causing another delay so it was not ready for occupation until May 1, 1905. At a meeting held April 19, 1905 Mrs. Della Dice was elected librarian and Mrs. Henry McBride assistant librarian. Mr. James Warfel was elected janitor. May 26, 1903 the Board was informed that Mr. Mullins had received from Dr. J. H. Todd an offer of his own collection of Ohio Archaeological specimens of the Museum. As soon as the new building was completed Mr. James Mullins bought a fine collection of Birds at the Worlds Exposition at St. Louis and placed them in the Museum and thus furnished the first contribution to this public institution.
Henry D. Stauffer