The Clintonville Public Library has a long history dating back to 1884.
A.C. Newcomb, pastor of the Congregational Church, was leading a girls’ Sunday School class. The girls requested books to read so Pastor Newcomb purchased a half dozen of the Pansy Books, popular at the time.
The books were read and reread by the girls, then loaned to their friends. As a group, the girls decided to either donate one new book or one dollar for the purchase of a new book to add to the collection. Older people began to donate as interest in the library grew.
Soon the collection was too large for the young people to handle, so the Christian Endeavor Society of the church took over responsibility for the library. Townspeople began asking for permission to borrow books. Library privileges were extended to the general public as the demand for books kept growing.
Fundraising efforts were made on behalf of the library. The books were housed in the original Congregational Chapel on Twelfth Street where the Odd Fellows Hall still stands.
When the new Congregational Church was built in 1895, the books were moved to the pastor’s study. An outside door was cut near the southeastern corner of the building to allow a more convenient entrance to the library from the street. That entrance has since been bricked in. The collection was now called the Christian Endeavor Free Library.
As the book collection grew, there was not adequate space in the church. A local druggist, Mr. Frank Sedgwick, offered the use of the back room of his store. Although the collection still belonged to the Christian Endeavor Society, Mr. Sedgwick took charge of the library for several years without pay. Miss Frances Maxwell, Mrs. Sedgwick’s sister, and Mrs. Edith Barnum assisted with the loaning of the books.
Editor’s note: This article is the first in a series of articles commemorating various anniversaries of the Clintonville Public Library. Next week’s article will feature historical information on the library becoming an official public library.
The Friends of the Library will mark their 25th anniversary with a celebration on September 25. There will be open houses at the Library, at O’Connor Sales and Realty (formerly the Carnegie Finney Library) and Honey Creek (formerly Dr. Finney’s residence). The public is invited to attend.