The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

Springfield Library Association 1866

 From the Springfield Missouri Patriot, February 15, 1866, page 3

The Public Library

"We have several times noticed the organization of the Springfield Library Association and we now take pleasure in publishing to our readers that the room is open for the visits of members, subscribers and all interested in the enterprise.

"The Trustees have rented the front room in the second story of the Bank building.  The room is large and comfortable.  They have procured bookcases and a portion of the furniture necessary for a commencement, hoping soon to be able to have the room completely filled up.  The books on hand already number about six hundred and the Trustees have the promise of contributions form various sources which will not only increase the number of volumes but add much to the value of the present collection.

"We are informed by the Trustees that the room will be open every evening from 7 o'clock to 9 o'clock and on Wednesday and Saturday from two to five in the afternoon.  This will give ladies who do not desire to attend in the evening an opportunity to exchange their books and visit the Library for the purpose of reading.

"The Library is intended to be self-sustaining.  In the organization the fee for membership was placed at ten dollars.  Any person may become a member by paying that sum and subscribing to the constitution and by-laws.  They will pay in addition to this fee for membership, fifty cents per quarter or two dollars per annum, for the purpose of paying current expenses.

"Persons that are not members may have the privileges of the Library, the same as given to a member, except a vote in controlling the affairs of the Library by paying a quarterly fee of one dollar or four dollars per annum.  These charges are necessary to keep up the current expenses without adding anything to the Library fund and will be collected by the Librarian on issuing tickets and no book will be issued except to the holder of a ticket.

"It is intended, ere long, to have a course of lectures on scientific and interesting subject for the benefit of the Library and Dr. Mayhew, who is now in town, will give a lecture or two this week or next for that purpose."

How does a library from 1866 compare to our present day library?  Some of the differences are that we now pay with our property taxes instead of paying quarterly fees. Instead of 600 books, we have about 523,063 in ten branches.

Some of the similarities are they both have a board of trustees. They both need more books.  They are both open late [at some branches].  They both have interesting lectures and programs.  You still need a ticket in the form of a library card to check out books.  The article is unclear if non-paying readers could use the books without checking them out but you can in our modern library.  And coming full circle, we again have a branch on the Public Square only now it is an entire store front.

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