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The Niles Public Library
was started as a civic project. On April 8, 1908 the Niles Library
Association was incorporated and a board of nine trustees was elected.
Tax levies of .3 of a mill each were made by the City Council and
the Board of Education were first paid into the Library treasury
in March, 1909. A large room in the W. A. Thomas building
on Furnace St. was offered rent free by Mr. W.A. Thomas.
In this room the library was housed until 1916.
Old public library on Furnace Street
was founded in 1908 with 2882 volumes.P01.646
History of the Library,
Niles Public Library Was Started In 1908
As A Civic Project.
On the evening of March 18, 1908 there was held
in the First Presbyterian Church of Niles a meeting which proved
to be of vast importance in the history of Niles. This was a meeting
called for the purpose of planning for a public library.
A group of public-spirited women, members of
the women’s Lyceum, literary club of Niles, feeling the
need of a library and craving its advantages for the residents
of their city, had formed what was known as the Niles Library
and Reading Room Association, with Kate H. Strock as
president. They had been active in arousing a similar ambition
among others of the community. And now the time had come for definite
Accordingly, on this stormy March evening an
interested group had come together to consider means by which
a public library might be organized. In this they had the presence
and counsel of Miss Anna L. Morse, at that time the librarian
of the Youngstown Public Library. Miss Morse advised that of various
types of library organizations permitted by Ohio laws, a tax-supported
free public library should be their goal.
The interior of the Niles Library
when it was in a rent free room owned by W. A. Thomas on the bend
of Furnace Street (East State Street). It contained a total of 2,882
books and operated during the hours of 9-5, 6:30-8:30 daily.P01.649
On April 8th, 1908, the Niles Library Association
was incorporated, ‘For the purpose of raising the intellectual
and moral life of the community through a public library and reading
room,’ with the following persons signing as subscribers:
J.B. Claypool, Chas E. Rose, Elizabeth F. Bentley, Myrtle
E. Gilbert, E. Thayer Ward, R. Herbert Wilkinson, F.J. Roller,
Minnie A. Claypool, Kate H. Strock, Ella M. Leitch, W.A. Thomas,
D.J. Finney and A.J. Bentley.
A board of nine trustees was elected, consisting
of Mrs. Kate H. Strock, Mrs. A.J. Leitch, D.J. Finney, George
B. Robbins, W.A. Thomas, A.J. Bentley, J.N. Cowdery, Fred W. Stillwagon
and F.J. Roller, with D.J. Finney as president;
W.A. Thomas, vice-president; F.W. Stillwagon,
treasurer; and Mrs. K.H. Strock, secretary pro-tem, pending
the appointment of a librarian who should act as secretary.
Story Hour at the old library on Furnace
Street in Niles. Furnace Street is now part of State Street.P01.647
Appeals for subscriptions to the library fund
met with generous response, some one hundred early contributors
being enrolled as charter members. Clubs, lodges, church organizations
and individuals co-operated, some giving benefit entertainments,
others contributing money and books.
Two hundred volumes were given by the Knights
of Pythias, and the libraries of the Union Library Association
and the Board of Education were contributed. Tax levies of three
tenths of a mill each were made by the City Council and the Board
of Education, first paid into the library treasury in March, 1909.
Left: 1909 Sandborn Fire insurance map showing
location of libary on Furnace Street (State Street).
Middle: Poster showing circulation comparison
between the old and new library. PO1.648.
A view of the curve on Furnace Street
that shows the Public Library(bottom left corner).
A Large room in the W.A. Thomas building on Furnace
Street, now State Street, was offered for a time rent free by
Mr. Thomas. In this room the library was housed for several years.
On October 8th, 1908, with Miss Mary
P. Wilde, a trained librarian, in charge, the first books
were circulated, the library then having 600 volumes on its shelves.
At the end of September 1909, there were 2555 volumes on the shelves,
with a circulation for the year of 22,124.
On Miss Wilde’s resignation in December,
1909, to enter work in a larger field, Miss Emily S. Glezen
was elected librarian, assuming this post on January 1st, 1910.
When in late October, 1911, Miss Glezen resigned to become librarian
of the Oil City, PA library, she was succeeded by Miss Ida
E. Sloan, the present librarian.
Left: Ida Sloan, librarian 1911-1953.
Miss Sloan was Niles' third librarian and remained so for 42 years.
She was a very dedicated person and to the people of Niles she
WAS the library.
This oil painting of her hangs in the library
of the Thomas House. It was painted by Dorothy Dennison,
Mrs. Joseph Butler III.
Reading room in the new library with
the bust of Joseph G. Butler on the left. PO1.1672
A momentous event in the history of the library was the building
of the McKinley Birthplace Memorial, a part of which was happily
planned to house the library. This beautiful building, whose erection
was the conception of President McKinley’s boyhood friend,
the late Joseph G. Butler, Jr., stands as a symbol of service
and is a stimulus to the community in its very effort to achieve
the highest good. To it Mr. Butler gave much time and thought as
well as money, visiting it frequently as long as his health would
permit, and on the library’s shelves are many books from his
This postcard shows the McKinley Memorial
whose left wing houses the new library. The erection of the library
wing of the Memorial was made possible largely through the gift
of $50,000.00 by Henry C. Frick, his gift being specifically
for the library.
Nationally charted and built by public subscription,
the McKinley Memorial Building was dedicated on October 5th, 1917.
The erection of the library wing of the Memorial was made possible
largely through the gift of $50,000 to the building fund by the
late Henry Clay Frick, this gift being specified for
The library was honored by a visit from Mr. Frick
a few weeks before his death in 1921. Mr. Frick expressed himself
as much pleased with the library, and planned at that time to
purchase for it one thousand books, selection to be made by trustees
and librarian. This plan was carried out by Miss Helen C. Frick
following her father’s death.
The Thomas building having changed hands, the
library was moved in May of 1916 to the Guanieri block on the
McKinley Memorial site, since torn down. In the summer of 1917,
the library was transferred to its present location in the south
wing of the McKinley Memorial building, planned especially to
meet the needs of a modern library.
A view of the new library wing featuring the
circulation desk and a bronze bust of Henry C. Frick .
Photograph of the original check from Henry C.
Frick to the Memorial Library in the amount of $50,000.00.
Henry Clay Frick (December 19, 1849 – December
2, 1919) was an American industrialist, financier, union-buster,
and art patron. He founded the H. C. Frick & Company
coke manufacturing company, was chairman of the Carnegie Steel
Company, and played a major role in the formation of the giant
U.S. Steel steel manufacturing concern.
He also financed the construction of the Pennsylvania
Railroad and the Reading Company and owned extensive real estate
holdings in Pittsburgh and throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
He later built the historic neo-classical Frick Mansion
(now a landmark building in Manhattan) and at his death donated
his extensive collection of old master paintings and fine furniture
to create the celebrated Frick Collection and Art Museum.
this link to learn more about Henry Clay Frick.