Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Trip Down Memory Lane

We recently dusted off some materials that had been relegated to a high, infrequently looked at shelf-- mostly because we are totally out of lower, frequently looked at shelves, but that's part of the expansion story, forthcoming-- and found some wonderful old documents from the Library's past. I can't verify the accuracy of all of these documents, nor do I know who wrote many of them, but they are a treat to read nonetheless. Hopefully, we'll be able to highlight some of them in the display cases in the meeting room.

Here's the text from one titled "Origin of the Mukwonago Library":

Some members of the Utopian Circle, who were the originators and startersof the Mukwonago Library, met at Mrs. Lena McKenzie's on Wednesday evening, August 23rd where, after due discussion, the following statement was authorised:

The idea of a library for Mukwonago was suggested in April of 1917 by the members of the Utopian Circle, an organized group of young women. The membership included the Misses Ada and Vinnie Vanderpool, Mayfred McKenzie, Ida, Margaret, and Leida Weir, Ollie Ahrens, Leona Lotz, Edith and Helen Stewart, Helen Chafin, Marie Kingston, Alice Smith, Amy Swan, Mmes. Safford and John Goetsch, and several members of the school faculty, namely: the Misses Agnes Hayes, Edna Hanson, Eda Koehler, Katherine Buchann, Margaret Walsh, beside other who assisted in the work at hand.

The financial nucleus of the library was a fund of $50.00, $25.00 of which was raised by the circle, in different ways suggested by the members, the other $25.00 being donated by Miss Vinnie Vanderpool. After the first $50.00 was raised, the first thing to do was to find a place to meet. After much searching and exchanging of opinions, the library was opened in June of 1917 in the north wing of the McNulty home, where it remained for about four years, some of the girls taking turns in acting as librarians.

The first books were donated by Miss Ether Potter from the John Potter library in Milwaukee. Others followed suit until those most interested were quite proud of the display of books which adorned the shelves, which had been built by Mr. John Gudger. Among those who tendered donations of books were Mrs. Mina Lobdell, Mr. Alexander Sclanders, Dr. and Mrs. L.E. Youmans, Mrs. Agnes Betts, and groups of books were received from the Waukesha library.

It was incorporated under the State Library Association when a representative of that body came and supervised the organizing and accessioning. At first it was open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon and evening, with Miss Leona Lotz, Miss Mayfred McKenzie, Miss Helen Chafin, and Mrs. John Goetsch acting as librarians. It was supported by voluntary subscriptions and by the membership fees which were $1.00. In order to supplement the regular books we had a traveling library. Mrs. Floyd McKenzie and Miss Betty Andrews became the librarians, Mrs. McKenzie taking charge on Wednesday afternoon and Miss Andrews on Saturday evening.

In 1921 the library was moved over to the village hall where the Study Club, having taken it over, reorganized it, continuing thus until the Village Council assumed the responsibility, and contributed $100.00 a year toward its support. These librarians continued until Miss Andrews had the misfortune to fall and break her hip, at which time Miss Leona Lotz took her place, and has continued to the present time.

The library at the present is financed by a contribution from the village of $125.00 a year and $50.00 a year from the town of Mukwonago.
$125 a year from the Village coffers, with an additional $50 from the Town. That would buy us roughly 15 books these days. I also love the idea of, "...some of the girls taking turns in acting as librarians." Unfortunately, the original "Origins of the Mukwonago Library" is undated and the author is unknown.

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