Whitehall Civic Improvement League

Members of the Civic League continued to support the Whitehall Free Library with projects such as card parties, subscriptions, and volunteer labor while still holding their meetings in its rooms. In October 1911 a report was made to the League that the village trustees were attempting to gain control of land north of the bridge and the League was requested to cooperate in securing the Historical Building where the library would have rooms. Nothing was reported in the minutes until May 19, 1924 when the minutes read that the Civic League held its meeting in the new library for the first time.

This must have meant the library that was located on the second floor of the village building until it was transferred in 1953 to the present Griswold Library given to the village. During this period Miss Bessie Buel and Mrs. Lorraine Dannehy were librarians. Evidently the Whitehall Free Library had become an entity of its own. The Civic League held its meetings here for some years before meeting in other public places and in homes of its members.

At the April 1909 meeting ten members were chosen for the Library Committee. Only members of the Civic League could be trustees but everyone could use the library. These first trustees were the Mesdames, W. G. C. Wood, B. H. Bascom, J. Q. Edwards, O. A. Dennis, C. J. Baldwin, F. L. Andrews, Jack Israel, George Noyes, and the Misses Julia Bascom and Lulu Lotrace. Later when a State Inspector visited the library he was astonished that only one woman had accomplished such an institution and suggested a man should be on the board. Men had been given an honorary membership in the first year.

By June 1909 the shelves had been installed in the library, the catalog completed, books in order, and Esther Adams hired as a librarian. To separate the books on the shelves in divisions it was suggested that covered bricks be used June 7 a date for a Library Day be observed, the third Sunday in June.

In November 1919 Mrs. Brown of the State Library Association came to view the library. By this time there were 504 books and many magazine subscriptions. She suggested a larger supply of children’s books, catering to special interests such as agriculture and ethnic groups of the town, and that the two newspapers and cuttings of the town events would be on file. (lf only this had happened what a resource of material would be on hand.) It seems that games were provided for the library hours and it was now evident that special hours and a separate room be restricted for use when the library was not open.

In October the Whitehall Free Library had a State Charter, a constitution had been drawn up and read, and all reports of the library were given for publication in the two newspapers. On 23 November 1909 it was voted that all Civic League meetings would be held thereafter in the library instead of Williams Street School.

Members met there until they transferred later to the Community Association rooms.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Independent – March 11, 1987

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