A history of the Geneva Public Library
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A group of people, with great fortitude and purpose, succeeded in establishing the first library in Geneva in 1874. It was short-lived due to financial difficulties. A second start came when a township referendum to establish a library was successfully passed in April, 1894. Due to an error no tax money was received until the following year. The Geneva Improvement Association furnished a loan and friends gave additional funds for operation. Room space was rented, books donated and returned from the former library. Approximately eight hundred books and nine magazine subscriptions were awaiting patrons on opening day in June, 1894. The library outgrew its quarters and four rooms were rented in the same building in 1897. There was constant hope for a permanent library building. This opportunity came when the Geneva Hall Company that had started a building at the corner of James and Second Street to house a hall and library, were unable to finance their project. In 1906, this company offered the property to the Library Board as a gift provided that the building would be completed for a library. The president of the Board, Joel D# Harvey, solicited a gift of seventy- five hundred dollars from ID?. Andrew Carnegie. An architect was engaged to make plans and specifications. The contract was awarded to John Wheeler of the Wheeler Construction Company. The fine stone structure of one story with basement and attic was ready for opening in September, 1908, with four thousand volumes on its shelves. The Board made every effort to make the Geneva Public Library a valuable institution in the community. Attention was given to cataloging, library instruction for school Glasses, evening programs, story hours, summer reading programs for children, book lists for various groups, rental collection, publicity, and longer hours of service. The librarian sponsored many and varied activities for the war effort. These many activities led to an increase in circulation and patronage. The library became a center for community activities. As the population grew new demands called for increased services. Thus, in 1938, a large room to be called the children's room was added to the east of the building. In 1953, there was need for repairs. This brought about remodeling, especially in the main part of the building. A survey by a library consultant provided plans and recommendations that were used as a guide to modernize the library and provide more space for the increased services. That additional services require increased funds was realized by the township citizens, when in 1957, they voted to increase the tax support for the library. Again in 1961, more space was needed. The basement room, furnished as a memorial room for meetings, became the children's room and the former children's room became part of the main library. The downstairs storeroom was converted to the librarian's office. From time to time gifts in the form of bequests have come to the library willed by friends, memorials in honor of deceased friends, books, and other equipment. Citizen interest has been shown in the organization known as the Friends of the Geneva Public library first organized in 1939 and reactivated in 1956. The township citizens can be proud of their library with its excellent book collection, reference materials, periodicals, records, and many services that meet the need of the increased educational and recreational programs of today.