Early History of the Library, Niles Ohio

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The Niles Public Library was started as a civic project.

The Niles Public Library was started as a civic project. On April 8, 1908 the Niles Library Association was incorporated and a board of nine trustees was elected. Tax levies of .3 of a mill each were made by the City Council and the Board of Education were first paid into the Library treasury in March, 1909. A large room in the W. A. Thomas building on Furnace St. was offered rent free by Mr. W.A. Thomas. In this room the library was housed until 1916.

Old public library on Furnace Street was founded in 1908 with 2882 volumes.P01.646

Niles Public Library Was Started In 1908 As A Civic Project.

On the evening of March 18, 1908 there was held in the First Presbyterian Church of Niles a meeting which proved to be of vast importance in the history of Niles. This was a meeting called for the purpose of planning for a public library.

A group of public-spirited women, members of the women’s Lyceum, literary club of Niles, feeling the need of a library and craving its advantages for the residents of their city, had formed what was known as the Niles Library and Reading Room Association, with Kate H. Strock as president. They had been active in arousing a similar ambition among others of the community. And now the time had come for definite action.

Accordingly, on this stormy March evening an interested group had come together to consider means by which a public library might be organized. In this they had the presence and counsel of Miss Anna L. Morse, at that time the librarian of the Youngstown Public Library. Miss
Morse advised that of various types of library organization permitted by Ohio laws, a tax-supported free public library should be their goal.

 


The interior of the Niles Library when it was in a rent free room owned by W. A. Thomas on the bend of Furnace Street (East State Street). It contained a total of 2,882 books and operated during the hours of 9-5, 6:30-8:30 daily.

The interior of the Niles Library when it was in a rent free room owned by W. A. Thomas on the bend of Furnace Street (East State Street). It contained a total of 2,882 books and operated during the hours of 9-5, 6:30-8:30 daily.P01.649

Association Incorporated

On April 8th, 1908, the Niles Library Association was incorporated, ‘For the purpose of raising the intellectual and moral life of the community through a public library and reading room,’ with the following persons signing as subscribers: J.B. Claypool, Chas E. Rose, Elizabeth F. Bentley, Myrtle E. Gilbert, E. Thayer Ward, R. Herbert Wilkinson, F.J. Roller, Minnie A. Claypool, Kate H. Strock, Ella M. Leitch, W.A. Thomas, D.J. Finney and A.J. Bentley.

A board of nine trustees was elected, consisting of Mrs. Kate H. Strock, Mrs. A.J. Leitch, D.J. Finney, George B. Robbins, W.A. Thomas, A.J. Bentley, J.N. Cowdery, Fred W. Stillwagon and F.J. Roller, with D.J. Finney as president; W.A. Thomas, vice-president; F.W. Stillwagon, treasurer; and Mrs. K.H. Strock, secretary pro-tem, pending the appointment of a librarian who should act as secretary.


Story Hour at the old library on Furnace Street in Niles. Furnace Street is now part of State Street.

Story Hour at the old library on Furnace Street in Niles. Furnace Street is now part of State Street.P01.647

Many Subscribe

Appeals for subscriptions to the library fund met with generous response, some one hundred early contributors being enrolled as charter members. Clubs, lodges, church organizations and individuals co-operated, some giving benefit entertainments, others contributing money and books.

Two hundred volumes were given by the Knights of Pythias, and the libraries of the Union Library Association and the Board of Education were contributed. Tax levies of three tenths of a mill each were made by the City Council and the Board of Education, first paid into the library treasury in March, 1909.


1909 Sandborn Fire insurance map showing location of libary on Furnace Street (State Street).

Poster showing circulation comparison between the old and new library.

Left: 1909 Sandborn Fire insurance map showing location of libary on Furnace Street (State Street).

Middle: Poster showing circulation comparison between the old and new library. PO1.648.

A view of the curve on Furnace Street that shows the Public Library(bottom left corner).


Ida Sloan, librarian 1911-1953.

A Large room in the W.A. Thomas building on Furnace Street, now State Street, was offered for a time rent free by Mr. Thomas. In this room the library was housed for several years.

On October 8th, 1908, with Miss Mary P. Wilde, a trained librarian, in charge, the first books were circulated, the library then having 600 volumes on its shelves. At the end of September 1909, there were 2555 volumes on the shelves, with a circulation for the year of 22,124.

On Miss Wilde’s resignation in December, 1909, to enter work in a larger field, Miss Emily S. Glezen was elected librarian, assuming this post on January 1st, 1910. When in late October, 1911, Miss Glezen resigned to become librarian of the Oil City, PA library, she was succeeded by Miss Ida E. Sloan, the present librarian.

Left: Ida Sloan, librarian 1911-1953. Miss Sloan was Niles' third librarian and remained so for 42 years. She was a very dedicated person and to the people of Niles she WAS the library.PO1.972

This oil painting of her hangs in the library of the Thomas House. It was painted by Dorothy Dennison, Mrs. Joseph Butler III.

 


Reading room in the new library with the bust of Joseph G. Butler on the left. PO1.1672

McKinley Memorial
A momentous event in the history of the library was the building of the McKinley Birthplace Memorial, a part of which was happily planned to house the library. This beautiful building, whose erection was the conception of President McKinley’s boyhood friend, the late Joseph G. Butler, Jr., stands as a symbol of service and is a stimulus to the community in its very effort to achieve the highest good. To it Mr. Butler gave much time and thought as well as money, visiting it frequently as long as his health would permit, and on the library’s shelves are many books from his private collection.

This postcard shows the McKinley Memorial whose left wing houses the new library. The erection of the library wing of the Memorial was made possible largely through the gift of $50,000.00 by Henry C. Frick, his gift being specifically for the library.

This postcard shows the McKinley Memorial whose left wing houses the new library. The erection of the library wing of the Memorial was made possible largely through the gift of $50,000.00 by Henry C. Frick, his gift being specifically for the library.

Nationally charted and built by public subscription, the McKinley Memorial Building was dedicated on October 5th, 1917. The erection of the library wing of the Memorial was made possible largely through the gift of $50,000 to the building fund by the late Henry Clay Frick, this gift being specified for a library.

The library was honored by a visit from Mr. Frick a few weeks before his death in 1921. Mr. Frick expressed himself as much pleased with the library, and planned at that time to purchase for it one thousand books, selection to be made by trustees and librarian. This plan was carried out by Miss Helen C. Frick following her father’s death.

The Thomas building having changed hands, the library was moved in May of 1916 to the Guanieri block on the McKinley Memorial site, since torn down. In the summer of 1917, the library was transferred to its present location in the south wing of the McKinley Memorial building, planned especially to meet the needs of a modern library.


Photograph of the original check from Henry C. Frick to the Memorial Library in the amount of $50,000.00.

 

A view of the new library wing featuring the circulation desk and a bronze bust of Henry C. Frick .

Photograph of the original check from Henry C. Frick to the Memorial Library in the amount of $50,000.00.

Photograph of the original check from Henry C. Frick to the Memorial Library in the amount of $50,000.00.

P01.765


Henry Clay Frick (December 19, 1849 – December 2, 1919) was an American industrialist, financier, union-buster, and art patron.

Henry Clay Frick (December 19, 1849 – December 2, 1919) was an American industrialist, financier, union-buster, and art patron. He founded the H. C. Frick & Company coke manufacturing company, was chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, and played a major role in the formation of the giant U.S. Steel steel manufacturing concern.

He also financed the construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Company and owned extensive real estate holdings in Pittsburgh and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. He later built the historic neo-classical Frick Mansion (now a landmark building in Manhattan) and at his death donated his extensive collection of old master paintings and fine furniture to create the celebrated Frick Collection and Art Museum.

Follow this link to learn more about Henry Clay Frick.


 
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