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

The Modern Library

 Springfield Republican, January 14, 1925, page 4.

"Many interested in history of Springfield Public Library
"So many inquiries have been flooding the public library recently with regard to the history of the institution that Miss Harriet M. Horine, librarian, decided to give the public a short history of the institution.  The requests seem to come largely from high school students who have evidently been assigned the work by their teachers but many of the requests have come from adult readers of the library.
"The Springfield public library was first organized in 1901 as the result of a gift of $50,000 from Andrew Carnegie for the construction of the building.  Reed & Heckenlively of Springfield were the architects for the building and they worked in co-operation with a firm of Chicago architects in drawing the plans for the building.  Construction work was started in 1902 and the corner stone was laid in 1903.  Due to some legal difficulties about a fund for the upkeep of the building the library did not open until April, 1905.  The reading room and circulation department were both opened in the same year but the reading room was opened in April and the circulation department was not opened until September.  Miss Dora Wilson was the first librarian of the public library in Springfield.  Dr. Homer T. Fuller, the president of Drury College, was president of the first Springfield library board.
"The first purchase of books for the library totaled $1,000.  At the time the library was started the expenses were met by appropriations from the city and if there was not a large enough appropriation for the purchase of new books and to pay running expenses the library board could not buy any books.  The first book to be cataloged in the library, that is given a record number, was “Rights of War and Peace” by Campbell.
"When the library was first started, it was only kept open three days a week from 2 o’clock in the afternoon until 9 o’clock at night.  The days on which it was kept open were Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and on Sunday from 2 until 5 as a reading room.  In 1908 the board opened it all day on these three days for the regular library hours of from 9 o’clock in the morning until 9 at night. 
"In 1910 Miss Harriet Horine took charge of the library and since that time the size and circulation of the library has risen by leaps and bounds.  The greatest increase in circulation is noticeable after 1916 and 1917 when the library first began to derive the benefits of the city library tax.  Five thousand volumes were added to the library in 1918 and the circulation jumped from 47,174 in 1917 to 57,466 in 1918.  There are now 29,145 volumes in the library and the circulation for 1924 was 145,111.  It is said that over one third of the city’s population hold cards at present.
"The Springfield library contains one of the most complete geological sections of any city library in the state.  This is largely due to Dr. Edward M. Shepard who has contributed many books and pamphlets to the geological section and has been instrumental in getting many other similar contributions for the institution.  Doctor Shephard does not confine his gifts to geological books alone but has also been the donor of many other important gifts, including a city directory printed in 1873."
See the book Carnegie Libraries in Southwest Missouri: Their Origins and Structural Changes, a Master's Thesis by Blanche McKinney.  In addition to the Springfield Library this book also covers the Joplin, Carthage, Marshfield, Aurora, Webb City, Bolivar and Nevada libraries.

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