Frostburg Public Library, 1962
ESTABLISHING A PUBLIC LIBRARY IN FROSTBURG, MARYLAND
(author unknown, date 1956)
During the past thirty years, at least three different organizations have made various attempts to establish a public library in Frostburg. In 1929 and again in 1940, the State Director of Library Extension for Maryland spoke at local public meetings arranged for the purpose of making plans to secure adequate public library service for the people of Frostburg. The reasons for the failure of the movements at those particular times are not clear, but the State Director of Library Extension for Maryland in her report of 1954, devoted a paragraph to the fact that Frostburg was the only town of seven thousand people in Maryland that did not have a public library.
The Education Study Group of the Frostburg-George’s Creek Branch of the American Association of University Women, six persons entirely unaware of the 1954 report, chose as a community project the sponsoring of the establishment of a public library for Frostburg. Much exploration was made and many small group meetings were held before the public was invited to attend a meeting at the City Hall on February 7, 1955, for those interested in establishing a public library for Frostburg. Fifty-five local civic organizations were invited to send representatives to this meeting so that the ideas and opinions of citizens could be obtained,
When the group met on February 7, approximately thirty people were present. Each representative was given a printed list of responsibilities which a group must assume to sponsor a library successfully. The obligations included:
Find a suitable place for housing
Contact Mayor and City Council
Collect books and magazines
Maintain building (If city refuses)
Staff the library
Each delegate was requested to take the problems and plan to his organization to find out the extent of help that could be given by that group.
At the meeting, a question asked was "Why would a public library be necessary in Frostburg where the State Teachers College Library is available for the use of all?" The college librarian answered this question by stating that the college library is not a public library but the president allows the public to use it, there are no facilities to accommodate children, students are given first consideration in the matter of borrowing books, and the library is closed for one month during the summer.
The group agreed to organize for the purpose of pushing the plan to establish a library for Frostburg. They chose the name, Friends of the Frostburg Public Library. Officers were elected, a committee to investigate possibilities for funds was appointed, a group was designated to explore housing, a book committee was named, and three people were asked to take care of publicity.
On February 28, the Friends of the Frostburg Public Library gathered to report that eight organizations would aid the library. No place had been found for housing.
On March 3, the organization decided to arrange to meet with the Mayor and City Councilmen of Frostburg on April 1. All business establishments would be contacted in the meantime for the purpose of asking the proprietors to attend this meeting.
After the Mayor (Perry Myers) of Frostburg called to order the Council meeting on April 1, a lawyer (Earl Cobey) spoke in behalf of the Friends of Frostburg Public Library group. His presentation of an historical background of libraries in the United States led to the story of libraries in Allegany County. The Mayor and Councilmen were asked to help with the library project.
Oakland, Somerset, Westernport, and LaVale were mentioned as towns able to maintain libraries. The Mayor and Councilmen were most gracious in their decision to pledge their support to the idea. They were asked to provide utilities and replied that they were willing to help as much as they could.
After the library group left the council meeting and moved to another room, the lawyer (Cobey) suggested calling the library the Frostburg Public Library. This was accepted.
Mr. Cobey stated that he would draw up a charter. Each member was asked to donate a dollar in order to set a firm foundation in way of establishment. At this time, each of the twenty people gave a dollar. The same officers were retained. Three trustees were elected by ballot. A committee was appointed to write a constitution.
During the interim between meetings many efforts were made to obtain housing. Finally on April 25, arrangements were made to rent two rooms for thirty dollars a month at 97 E. Main Street.
It was suggested that four additional trustees be elected. This was done. The ranges of office would be three for three years, two for two years, and two for one year.
Redecorating plans for the rooms to house the library were discussed on May 2. A committee was appointed to choose an appropriate color scheme, paint, and draperies.
The Recent Graduates Group of AAUW was asked to organize a campaign for the collection of books and magazines. This was done effectively with the assistance of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Many types of excellent books and periodicals were collected.
A former resident of Frostburg and a business man of Frostburg shared the cost of thirty one dollars state tax which authorized the legal establishment of the library.
A membership drive was conducted. The response to this was enthusiastic. Membership cards were provided as a receipt for each person contributing a dollar to the group.
One of the trustees headed a campaign for contributions from industries and businesses in the area. This was overwhelmingly successful.
A trustee and his wife, (the Krasons) gave seven hundred and fifty board feet of the finest oak available. Two local teachers spent many long hours converting the wood into shelves for books. Approximately twenty people from at least five different professions finished the shelves.
The State Director of Library Extension of Maryland met with the Library Board on June 22. At this time, July 17 was set for the official opening of the library. The Director offered to lend five hundred children's books for the opening, and this offer was gratefully accepted.
Much work was yet to be done. A qualified librarian was hired for two weeks to direct the process of getting the books ready for the shelves. Never underestimate the power of school teachers! They pasted pockets and date due slips, typed cards, marked books, classified books, ordered Wilson cards, filed cards, discarded unusable magazines and books, and worried about the proximity of July 17.
Tables, a desk, a chest of drawers, lighting fixtures, and chairs have been donated. The decorating was completed. By July 16, 97 East Main Street was a library in actuality with approximately 1,800 volumes and the volunteer personnel who would servers librarians were instructed in their duties.
After an enjoyable band concert on July 17, Mayor Myers expressed his pleasure in officiating at the opening of an institution provided for the purpose of improving the community. Several hundred people attended the Open House that followed his cutting of the ribbon.
Volunteer helpers staffed the library. At the end of the first ninety hours of operation, seven hundred and ten books had been checked out. Nine hundred and forty-two people had used the library.
By September 19, it was evident that a coordinator would be necessary to maintain the unity that such a project required. The Board of Trustees had many applications for the position in spite of the fact that only a meager salary could be offered. An efficient, public-spirited coordinator, Mrs. (Walter) Thelma Mackay, was found. It was impossible to define her numerous duties, but she plunged into them immediately.
The use children of school age make of the library demands up-to-date reference books and many children’s books. Recently a current set of Encyclopedia Americana and the New Century Encyclopedia of Names have been purchased and one hundred thirty five children's books have been added. Splendid adult fiction had been donated during the book drive. This is supplemented by the purchase of best sellers for the rental shelf.
A popular service offered by the library is the Saturday morning Story Hour for children from four to ten years of age. Some of the narrators are students from State Teachers College.
The Frostburg Public Library is a challenging grass-roots community project. Generous cooperation of everyone is impressive. The people of Frostburg can literally do anything—if they put their minds on it!
Frostburg Sesquicentennial Souvenir Book
The description of the photograph in the Frostburg Sesquicentennial Souvenir Book reads: Frostburg Public Library, 1962
Erected with money raised by community projects and
private subscription, this colonial brick library was opened on East Main Street in 1961. The library itself was begun in 1955 as a civic enterprise and operated for some time by volunteer librarians and workers in rented quarters provided by the City. Today Frostburg's Library is a part of the County Library System and provides a wide service to countless school students and adults. The basement area is devoted to storage, reserve stacks and a large and attractive meeting room available for public meetings. Librarians are Mrs. Walter E. Mackay and Mrs. J. Bray Thompson.
Public libraries, Maryland, Allegany County; Allegany county Library System (Md.), Anniversaries.
Allegany County (Md,), 1960-2010