The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., March 10, 1939, page 1

Successive Board Have Done Excellent Work

     Twenty-five years ago this month marked the opening of the new Carnegie Library building. A brief review of the history of the library's activities is timely in commemorating the more than a quarter of the century of service, says P.L. Tompkins, chairman of the library board.
     The Hood River Public Library was formed May 1, 1912 and the following members constituted the first board, which was appointed a Mayor E.O. Blanchar: L.H Huggins, J.O. McLaughlin, Dr. F.C. Brosius, J.P. Lucas, Mrs. W.M. Stewart and Miss Mary McLaren.
     A room was secured in the E.L. building on Third street and was opened to the public Sept. 12, 1912, with Miss Della Northy, librarian. Meanwhile a movement was started to secure a grant from the Carnegie Foundation for a library building and this grant was allowed in June, 1913. The construction contract was let to L.A. Woodard, Aug. 25, 1913, ground was broken a few days later and Miss Mary McLaren was given the honor of turning the first spade of dirt (see picture).
     The cornerstone was laid Oct. 10, 1913, and contained the following: copy Women's Club 1913 year book, a 1913 penny, current issues of Hood River News, Hood River Glacier, Oregonian and a picture of little Miss Ruth McClain, she being the youngest child of any member of the Women's Club.
     Truman Butler as acted as Master of Ceremonies and introduced the principal speaker as "Hood River's Grand Old Man, the Hon. E.L. Smith."
     "I wonder if you think of the benefit that will begin from this beautiful October Day," said Smith. "This library will be an emblem of the intellectuality of the people of our community. It will be the means of a post-graduate work for the students of our high schools. I recall the time fifty years ago when a woman sat in a wagon selling ice cream during a Fourth of July celebration. It was my wife, and she was not doing this for her own gain, as many thought, but because she was determined to accumulate a fund for establishing a reading room and library in this county. I am glad that the library is built upon this ground which has, in a way, been concentrated by her life to such a purpose, and I hope that some day the city may acquire the rest of the block and make a city park."
     The Woman's club played an important part in securing the lots which made the Carnegie gift possible. They were also instrumental in obtaining many of the furnishings.
     On March 16, 1914, the present building was opened to the public with 3,000 volumes on the shelves and Miss Northy in charge.
     The administration of the library has not been all easy sailing. Many stormy periods have been successfully passed. During the first few years there was dissent and rebellion among the board members. Various factions took part in the controversies, but finally an amicable settlement was made, and out of the turmoil emerged a contract under which operations are still being conducted. This contract was entered into between the City Council and the City Court, Feb. 8, 1916. Each party agreed to contribute an equal share for the support of the library to be administered by a board consisting of three members appointed by the City Council, and three members by the County Court, and these six members to elect the seventh member. This arrangement has worked so well that not one change has been made and the contract stands today as originally drawn. Harmony was restored and has existed ever since.
     The growth of the library has been encouraging from the beginning. The first year, 16,857 volumes were circulated. The following year saw this amount doubled, and last year, 1938, the circulation was 64,734. In 1913, there were less than 1000 volumes on the shelves, and at the end of 1938 the volumes totaled 12,374.
     In 1935 the E.L. Smith heirs donated to the County, for library use, of all of the remaining lots in the Smith block.
     The present park was developed during 1936, using funds received from the sale of the northwest corner of the block to C.C. Anderson. Thus E.L. Smith's wish and hope as expressed at the time of the laying the cornerstone, has been fulfilled.
     The library has contributed to a large extent to the education of the youth and the advancement of the many by making available material and information free to all who wanted it. Thomas Carlyle said: "A Library is the People's University." The library is doing a great work in this community; the list of patrons is increasingly constantly; the children and youth of today are the readers of tomorrow; they are encouraged in every way and are responding splendidly. The service the library can perform is only limited by the extent of its use.
     The library board have forward plans for the future that will tend to make the institution a greater factor in building character, manhood and good American Citizenship.
      Mrs. Wilma Boisselier, who recently came to fill the vacancy caused by Mrs. Eliza Waite's serious illness and resignation, brings to the library new ideas and plans to develop and further enhance the value of County library, of which this community is justly proud.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer