Michelle Ann Kratts

Happy Birthday to the Lewiston Public Library

In Lewiston, Lewiston Public Library on January 2, 2014 at 9:05 pm

new years

On New Year’s Day, 1901, the Lewiston Public Library was born. Under the direction of president Dr. George S. Hobbie and library committee chairman, J. Boardman Scovell, the Men’s Club held a “Grand Social Festival and Library Reception” at Moss Hall (the present day Lewiston Opera Hall location). Everyone was invited to come and to register as a member. Each person who attended was also required to donate a book. Some brought as many as 20 volumes. One particular lady from Niagara Falls donated one hundred books. It was a spectacular event. Even Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was invited. Although he was unable to attend he did send an autographed copy of his book on Oliver Cromwell. This book is now on display in the Frieda

T roosevelt         oliver cromwell       oliver cromwell book

Bourgon Local History Room alongside books written and signed by many of our presidents.

When the Lewiston Free Library officially opened in its original location at 469 Center Street later that year, things were quite different than they are today. Library hours in the library and reading room were from 2 to 5 every day and 7:30 to 9 every evening, “…Sundays and holidays excepted…” Borrowers could only draw two books and a time “…and not more than one of fiction…” for two weeks at a time.

According to the library’s first annual report, the library opened with 2, 375 books and 459 registered borrowers. The first title in the Accession book is Jo’s Boys, by Louisa May Alcott. It was most likely a donation. It is still in our collection, although in a special place behind a locked cabinet in the Local History Room.

Jo's boys                                    Jo's boys2

Along with being a place to read and borrow books, patrons were encouraged to use the building as a meeting place for friends, as well as a place to write letters. The first librarian, Miss Mary Marguerite Wright, was just a young girl when she took on the position. She went on to become a screenwriter and an activist in several causes during the early 1900’s. It was said that during her stint as head librarian she was “at all times ready and willing to advise borrowers in selecting suitable books for home reading, or to aid reference work or study.” But special attention was paid “to the children.”

first annual report

The Lewiston Public Library is proud to celebrate its 113th birthday this January.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: