The Library’s Origin Story

Hello Forest County Residents!

In honor of National Library Week, which begins April 12th, I thought I would share with you some details of the humble beginnings of the Crandon Public Library. A newly discovered newspaper article revealed that the Free Library in Crandon was launched November 14, 1899. According to the Forest Republican(1899) a public meeting at the church was held for the purpose of introducing the new traveling library to people and enlighten them regarding the rules of book use. The meeting was called to order by Egbert Wyman, President of the Local Library Association. Miss Ella Helm played a selection on the organ and G.Y. McClathcie, the chosen librarian, explained how the books could be borrowed. If a person wanted to check out a book they first had to sign a card stating they agreed with all of the library regulations and then another person put their signature down testifying that the original signer was a responsible human being! A person could only check one book out at a time for a two week period and could renew it once if no one else requested the book. There was a fine of one cent per day if the book was not returned on the due date. After the rules were laid down there was more musical entertainment by community members (which I wish existed at current library meetings). The Reverend R.B. Norton spoke on the types of books available and let people know which ones he preferred. Reverend E.B. Rankin gave a speech about the positive attributes of reading and the dangers of bad literature. The President then appointed a committee to create a constitution and by laws and the meeting ended with the people present being allowed to peruse the books. I find the end of the article the most poignant:

“It is the desire of many of our citizens that this small beginning may, in the near future, result in an establishment of a permanent library in this village. Good books are like wise friends, advising and instructing, an uplift to those who seek their counsel” (Forest Republican 1899).

It is heartening to know the desire of the community for a library over one hundred years ago has not lessened over time. There are many patrons that visit daily that have the same thirst for knowledge and love for the library!

Books from Traveling Library
Books from Traveling Library
Original Traveling Library Chest
Original Traveling Library Chest

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