Vermontville Township Library History
At the time our story opens, Vermontville was entirely without public library facilities. It was well known that the townspeople as well as the people in the surrounding community wanted and needed such facilities, therefore, on May 3, 1948, the Vermontville Woman's Club voted unanimously to undertake the promotion of the Public Library.
Immediately the president, Mrs. Ben Slout, appointed a committee to "start the ball rolling" -- Mrs. Bernard Allen, Mrs. Veru Reed, and Mrs. Morris Wilson. These women attended the next Village Council meeting and were so effective in presenting their cause that that body granted them the use of a basement room in the Town Hall owned jointly by village and township, heat and light to be furnished by the village. A partition had to be built across one end of the room, a rest room project having been promised a share of the space. This work was done by volunteer labor, and both lumber and door were furnished by interested citizens.
That fall the committee arranged an open meeting appointment with the Public Library Consultant, Mrs. Grace Burgett, of the Michigan State Library, who advised on methods and correct procedures. It was hoped that by the first of the year the project could be said to have really started. The first step was to contact the presiding officers of the nineteen organizations of the community, each of whom was asked to appoint a committee of three to the new library board. At a meeting of this group on September 30, 1948, they elected temporary officers as follows: President-- Mrs. Bernard Allen; Vice President-- Mrs. Vern Reed; Secretary-- Mrs. Luban Barnes; Treasurer-- ~~. Ralph Perkey. Committees were appointed to get the room ready, arrange for shelves, and solicit furniture. Only one who saw that room at the beginning and helped to remove the debris will ever appreciate the beautiful, modern appearance it presents today. Fire hose, racks, and ladders, voting booths, oil cans, lost and found articles from the ages had to be disposed of elsewhere, and only after the removal was complete and the grime of the years had yielded to the rigors of soap and water, did the potentialities of the place become apparent. The "after pictures" will reveal the effect of painted floors, soft green walls, dainty white curtains, flowers on the window sills, or shall we simply refer our readers to that universal thing, “a woman's touch?”
Lumber for the first shelving was donated by William Barnillgham, and Nick Vierick; volunteer labor, by George Hall, Hugh Parker, Ben Slout, Dean Hansen, Bernard E. Allen, Lloyd Faust, and Ralph Perkey. The local School Board at once contributed a librarian's desk which had been beautifully refinished by the manual training depart¬ment. Shelves, tables, chairs followed. All were painted in a mild green shade to blend with the walls, the work being done by Mesdames, Reed, Reeve, E. Zemke, and O. E. McLaughlin. This committee also made the curtains for the deeply recessed windows, and arranged suitable art displays.
In late January came an intensive drive for the books, more furniture, and money. The Village and Township were mapped out by chairman, Mrs. Morris Wilson, and the work of a door to door canvass was conducted by women of the get the new books accessioned and into circulation by February 12. 1949. This again was a "labor of love" by interested club women.
A loan of several hundred books was secured from the Michigan state Library. A gift of one hundred modern books from the Charlotte Book Club added no little impetus to the project, and brought the total at that time to 1800 books.
On February 12, 1949, the Vermontville Public Library was declared officially ready for operation, and an Open House was held to acquaint the public with the extent of the project. Tea and cookies were served to the 200 guests who registered during the hours of two to five in the afternoon and seven to nine in the evening.
Recognition is also due many others who have since made substantial gifts to the library; The Walter Davis estate-¬several hundred books; The Ruth Stealy Estate. Charlotte; W. E. Carr, Lansing-- a large group of mystery fiction; Miss K. Burhans of the Chelsea Methodist Home; Mrs. Edith Biggs, Charlotte Librarian,-- 25 modern best sellers; Esther Wilkins, Battle Creek-- 50 books. The local Lion’s Club has made the library custodian of its recently purchased ceiling projector, and twelve microfilm books have been purchased by the nineteen organizations comprising the Library Board. The memorial shelf is also an outstanding feature of the library, with the finest, most up-to-date books which money can buy, presented in honor of loved ones living and dead.
To list the local donors is impossible for lack of space, but suffice it to say, the total of books now available is 3325. The registered borrowers to date number 439. The library is pre-sided over by a qualified librarian, whose services are paid for 'by the Township Board at the rate of seventy-five cents per hour for twelve hours per week. This board has also voted the annual sum of $200 for books and equipment. The library is open to the public every Tuesday 2-5, Thursday 12-4, and Saturday 2-5 and 7-9.
During the summer months, June, July, and August, a story hour for boys and girls was carried on under the leadership of Mrs. K. K. Ward. Attendance averaged 25. In addition to stories told by Vermontville Woman's Club members, albums of recorded stories were made available by Michigan State Library. And in order to further encourage good reading, a reading contest was carried on under the circus motif. Prizes of books were awarded to the boy and girl reading the greatest number of books.
Because of a change of plans, the Village Council was now able to give the library the use of the afore-mentioned room adjoining the library proper. This was a happy arrangement, and timely, because the library was fast outgrowing its quarters. The new quarters were ideally located for a children's room, and by dint of hard labor, and with the co-operation of all, the room was soon transformed, the juvenile books installed, and everything ready for commemoration of Book week, November 13-19. All children of the Public Schools visited the library during that week and were shown about by hostesses. They were also given their first sight of a ceiling projector in action. A loan of lovely juveniles from the Extension Department of the University of Michigan Library added greatly to the occasion. Each little guest took home a book¬mark as a souvenir of his visit. To further emphasize the import¬ance of Book Week, “Open House" was again observed for adults. Two hundred ninety-one people visited the library that week.
As the year 1949 draws to a close, the Woman's Club has the satisfaction of knowing that the Vermontville Public Library is a well-established entity and one which will continue to serve the community through the years. A legally signed petition is now in the hands of the Township Board to place the matter of its operation and maintenance on the April 1950 ballot. There is little chance that the proposal will fail of adoption.