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Pacific Northwest libraries; history of their early development in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.… Pacific Northwest Library Association; American Library Association 1926

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Pacific Northwest Libraries
History of their Early Development
in Washington, Oregon and
British Columbia
Papers Prepared for the Seventeenth Annual Conference of the
Pacific Northwest Library Association, 1926,
Contributing to the
(Reprinted from the Washington Historical Quarterly for October, 1926)
u  H
Everyone who is interested in the history of the Pacific
Northwest is aware of the unselfish work and the indispensable
cooperation of the librarians. In these swift years of our complex
civilization, the people in general have learned to lean with childlike confidence upon the public libraries and their trained staffs.
Even a more intensive form of dependence has evolved among
students and writers of history, especially in the American area
known as the Pacific Northwest.
This condition as a whole has been quickened and, perhaps,
completely developed within the half-century of life of the American Library Association. There were great public libraries, of
course, before that Association was called into being at the American Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 1876, and there were
also many significant private libraries. Some of the most important changes wrought since the organization of the Association
are rather easily discerned. In the first place, the librarians themselves awakened to the fact that their work was worthy of being
classed as a profession. Training schools were established and,
although they probably do not yet realize it, they became one of
the first American groups to lend a glory to the slogan of "service" now so dominant in business and professional circles. Many
improvements were also devised for the better classification, shelving and cataloguing of books, pamphlets and manuscripts. Precious
time was saved for helper and user. People who could benefit by
books and reading, it was thought, should not be handicapped by
reasons of residence. Smaller communities were aided in organizing libraries and finally rural districts were served. The whole-
someness of the growth has been admirable from whatever angle
it be viewed. Who would dare to complain about the consistent-
modesty of the profession! What group can match its alertness to
help or its watchfulness to eliminate waste in time, money or materials ! It ought not to surprise us to observe the streams of public
funds and the millions of surplus wealth attracted to this constructive element of American life.
While the Pacific Northwest was one of the latest portions of
North America to be populated and developed, it passed through
the same experiences of log-cabin, rude trail and savage conflict-
The greatest difference from experiences on the Atlantic shores
(3) Pacific Northwest Libraries
is the rapidity with which obstacles were overcome. A great momentum of progress had been acquired. That momentum was revealed by the far-western pioneer in his every act, in the implements he brought or soon acquired, in his quick efforts for ships,
wagon roads and railroads, in his immediate ambition for towns,
newspapers, schools, churches and libraries.
The pioneer efforts to secure libraries and reading rooms comprise one of the fascinating chapters of Pacific Northwestern history. Its compilation has remained for the professional librarians.
Following the fine spirit of their colleagues in other regions of
North America, they have been maintaining the Pacific Northwest
Library Association. This organization held its Seventeenth Annual Conference at Big Four, near Everett, Washington, on June
14-17, 1926. At that meeting three historical papers were read as
follows: "Early Library Development in Washington/' by Charles
W. Smith, Associate Librarian of the University of Washington;
"Some Early Libraries of Oregon," by Mirpah G. Blair, of the
Oregon State Library, Salem, Oregon; "The Library Movement
in British Columbia," by J. Forsyth, Librarian and Archivist of the
Provincial Library, Victoria, British Columbia. It is a privilege to
publish in full these three papers in the Washington Historical
Quarterly as a symposium on an important phase of Pacific Northwestern history.
Readers of these papers will be pleased with the aggregate
of public spirit shown by the pioneers in their struggling villages
and towns.
This brief tribute to the librarians of the Pacific Northwest
should be prolonged sufficiently to justify a statement in the opening paragraph. In the early days, before the arrival of the professional librarians, students and writers of local history had to
depend upon the memories of surviving pioneers and upon the private libraries of books, newspapers, manuscripts and diaries. Many
of the pioneers have passed away and the private libraries have
likewise almost entirely ceased to exist. These numerous collections have been merged, by gift or purchase, into the public or institutional libraries where they are scrupulously cared for and scientifically managed by the professional librarians. The change
from the older condition was pointedly manifested by the publication of a remarkable working-tool for the Northwestern historian.
Reference is here made to a check-list called Pacific Northwest
Americana, published (as a second and enlarged edition) in New Pacific Northwest Libraries 5
York by The H. W. Wilson Company in 1921. The work was
sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Library Association. Fifteen
of the most important libraries participated and three others also
furnished some of the items. Four thousand, five hundred and
one items are listed with full bibliographical information and giving the location of each item. In this undertaking the Pacific
Northwest is interpreted as all of that area north of California
and between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. These
libraries cooperate with each other. In this way the students and
historians of the Pacific Northwest are served with books and
documents more adequately than is probably the case in any other
portion of North America. One of the historians desires here to
lift his voice in praise of the devoted service of those unselfish
Edmond S. Meany. V*
Fifty years ago at the Philadelphia Centennial, the American
Library Association was founded. In that year the United States
| Bureau of Education published a most important report upon the
Public Libraries in ■ the United States, Their History, Condition
and Management. This report gave statistics of all public libraries
having three hundred volumes and over. According to this report
the Pacific Coast had 103 libraries located as follows: California
86, Oregon 14, Washington 2, Alaska 1.
In the fifty years that have elapsed since 1876, great progress
in Washington has been inevitable. That progress has been almost
wholly confined, however, to the period since Statehood. The first
law making possible the levying of a tax for the support of public
libraries was not passed until 1890, the year after Washington became a State. Since that time there has been a development of
libraries within the State keeping a fair pace with its growth in
population and wealth.
The notes prepared for this paper have been purposely confined to the Territorial period, 1853-1889. In 1853, when the territory north of the Columbia was cut off from Oregon the white
population of the entire Territory was but 3,965 white people, or
about one-half of the present yearly attendance of the University
of Washington. The growth in numbers moreover was very slow
until the coming of the railroads beginning with the later 80's. It
is small wonder that a survey of Territorial libraries reveals the
number to be few and the size to be small.
Washington Territorial Library
The first library to be established in Washington Territory
was the Territorial Library. The Organic Act of March 2, 1853,
appropriated $5,000 for the purchase of books and this money was
expended by Isaac I. Stevens before he left the East to take up his
post as first Governor. In Governor Stevens' first Message to the
Legislature, he reported that 1,850 volumes had already arrived
and that the remainder on the way would bring the number to
about 2,000 volumes. These books were carefully chosen and
made an excellent beginning to what became the most important
library during the entire Territorial period. In passing it may be
noted that Congress had made  similar appropriations  for other
<7) 8 Pacific Northwest Libraries
Territories. Wisconsin was given $5,000 in 1836 "for the use of
the legislature and the Supreme Court". An equal sum was
granted to Oregon in 1848 and to New Mexico in 1850.
An excellent short account of the history of the State Library
has been compiled by Mr. J. M. Hitt, the present State Librarian,
and is available in printed form in the Report on a Survey of
State Supported Library Activities (Olympia, 1917) pages 43-45.
There is also much documentary material relating to the history
of this Library in the Legislative Journals and official reports of
the State. In October, 1889, the number of volumes had grown
to 10,448 and the Library was in charge of Eleanor Sharp Stevenson.
Steilacoom  Library Association
The next library established was that of the Steilacoom Library Association. This was incorporated on February 3, 1858,
and is in many ways the most interesting of the subscription libraries of the Territory. A Constitution and By-Laws (Steilacoom, Puget Sound Herald Office, I860,) was printed in a 12-
page pamphlet. The duties of the officers were here set forth in
detail. Dues were 25 cents per month and admission was $5.00.
The purpose of the Association is thus stated: "The object of the
Association shall be the diffusion of useful knowledge and sound
morality: First, by establishing a library; Secondly, a Reading
Room; Thirdly, by procuring Public Lectures, Essays, and establishing Debates".
This Library flourished successfully for several years. At the
end of the first nine months $300.00 had already been expended
for books and an equal amount of money was in the hands of the
treasurer. Money was raised by balls and other entertainments.
Many public lectures and debates were given.
As the importance of Steilacoom dwindled, interest in the Library waned. An effort was made in 1895 to revive the Association and a new constitution and by-laws was framed. Papers
were prepared placing the books in the custody of the Principal
of the Steilacoom Academy.
A permanent revival of the Association failed and in February
1908, the property of the Association was deeded to Thomas WT.
Prosch, of Seattle, in accordance with a bill of sale now in possession of the University of Washington Library. This instrument recites that:
"We Chas. Prosch, of Seattle, and Ezra Meeker, also of Se- Pacific Northwest Libraries 9
attle, the only members of the Steilacoom Library Association, organized in March, 1858, in accordance with an Act of the Territorial Legislature of February 3, 1858, as the parties of the first
part, for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar lawful
money of the United States of America, to them in hand paid by
Thomas W. Prosch of Seattle, and for other considerations of a
proper character, he being the party of the second part ... do
by these presents grant, bargain, sell and convey, unto the party
of the second part ... all of the books, papers, pamphlets,
case, furniture, records, and other things pertaining to the Steilacoom Library and the Steilacoom Library Association, now stored
in the town of Steilacoom, unused by the public they were intended to serve and consequently of lessened and constantly lessening
value ... to have and to hold the same to the party of the second part his executors, administrators and assigns forever.
Charles Prosch
Ezra Meeker"
Affidavit attested by C. B. Bagley, Notary Public, on Feb. 24,
The document just cited was turned over to the University
of Washington Library in a collection of manuscripts donated by
Edith Prosch after the death of her father, Thomas W. Prosch.
I have been unable to learn what volumes formerly belonging to
the Steilacoom Library Association were acquired by Mr. Prosch,
or where any of them may be at this time.
Next in chronological order comes the shadowy beginning of
the University of Washington Library.
University of Washington Library
The history of the University of Washington Library dates
from November 11, 1862. On that date the first regular meeting
of the first Board of Regents was held and SamuelF. Coombs of
Seatle was elected Librarian.1
As the first Librarian of the University of Washington, a few
words regarding Mr. Coombs may not be out of place. He came
to Puget Sound in 1859 and taught school at Port Madison, having among his pupils Cornelius and Clarence Hanford. The next
year, 1860, he came to Seattle where for many years he was
1 Journal of the House of Representatives 10th Session,  (Olympia, 1863.)  Appendix 10 Pacific Northwest Libraries
chiefly, employed as a clerk in Yesler's store. At the time of his
appointment as librarian, Mr. Coombs was Postmaster of Seattle,
having been appointed March 25, 1862, and holding the office until relieved by Gardner Kellogg, in the following year. In 1863,
Mr. Coombs became Secretary of the King County Agricultural
Society. In 1864, he was awarded a prize at the King County
Fair for beer and porter which he exhibited. In 1865, Seattle
got its first charter and Mr. Coombs was made Committing Magistrate. For several years during the sixties he ran the New Terminus Hotel. In 1873, he was one of the incorporators of the
Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad and Transportation Company,
avnd, from 1884-1888, he was Warden of the United States Penitentiary at McNeil's Island. He was a good penman and proved
al handy man in many clerical capacities. He was justice of the
peace and a student of Indian languages and customs. He compiled the Dictionary of the Chinook Jargon issued by Lowman
and Hanford in 1891, and furnished the information regarding
Chief Seattle which appears in Costello's The Siwash. His term
of office as Librarian of the University was for one year only, but
I have been unable to gather any information in regard to his services in that capacity.
The first record I have been able to find in regard to books
appears in the House Journal for 1865 where a Committee appointed to investigate the University has this to say: "The library
is very small and of little value; but on account of the low state
of funds of the University and the high price of books at present,
we are of the opinion the interest of the University would not be
advanced by a further expenditure for books."2
Two years later, on April 1, 1867, Mr. Whitworth as President of the University, presented a list of University property;
also a report in relation to the library, cook stove, etc. He also
made a statement of crockery taken away from the University
boarding house.
"On motion it was ordered that the President cause the books
in the library to be properly marked and numbered, and to allow
no books to be taken out hereafter, except by the students or
teachers in actual attendance, and that the President take such
steps as he may deem necessary to recover all the books which
are now missing, and to charge all books hereafter to the parties
who may take them."   Evidence that the President made an effort
2 Washington House Journal,  1865, p.  151. Pacific Northwest Libraries
to secure the return of books is shown by the approval by the
Board at the meeting of October 12, 1867, of a bill of $3.00 to
cover an advertisement in the Seattle Gazette asking for the return
of "books missing from the Library".3
The first mention that I have discovered of the actual number
of volumes is that to be found in the Report of the Board of Regents for 1871 in which President Hall estimates the number at
about three hundred and fifty volumes.4 The University grew but
slowly. It was not until 1876, fifteen years after founding, that
the first graduate received her diploma.
The library likewise grew slowly. President Anderson in
1881 reported to his Board: "In September, 1877, when the writer
took charge, the library consisted of 162 bound volumes and no
pamphlets; but now contains 436 bound volumes and 308 pamphlets. The increase has arisen from the following sources: Lost
books found, books donated by friends, books purchased with
money arising from a small library fee and fines, books published
by the general government and obtained through Delegates Jacobs
and Brents, and also reference books purchased with money appropriated by the Legislature in 1879. In addition to the University
Library, students have access to some 1350 bound volumes and
500 pamphlets, placed in the keeping of the authorities of the University by the Seattle Library Association."5
The catalogue of the University for 1880 states that "Since
the issue of the last Catalogue, there have been added to the Library one hundred and fifty volumes, including fifty valuable reference books." A sidelight to the character of the University and
its standard of teaching may be seen in the following paragraph
drawn from the same Catalogue (1880, p. 16) "The Institution
aims to be parental in government, to insist upon a high standard
of character and scholarship, and to teach simply the true and the
right without bias for sect, party or infidel."
In the next year's Catalogue6 published in 1881, the following
statement is made: "Until early in the last college year, one room
sufficed to hold both Library and Cabinet. Now two rooms are
necessary. Including the Seattle City Library, which has been
given in charge to the University, students have access to 1800
bound volumes and 800 pamphlets.    The Librarian, Mr. L. F. An-
3 Washington House Journal, 1867, pp.  104, 107.
4 Washington House Journal, 1871, p .188.
5 Report of the  Board  of Regents of  the Territorial  University  of  the  Territory  of
Washington,   (Olympia:   Bagley,   1881,)   p.   11.
6 The Register for 1880-1881. 12 Pacific Northwest Libraries
derson, will always be ready to gratefully acknowledge the receipt
of any good book or pamphlet donated to the University Library."
(Page 13) It is indicated in the same catalogue that a library fee
of 25 cents per term was being charged.
Two years later, it is stated that "The shelving capacity of
the Library has been largely increased during the present year and
the books classified and systematically arranged. Several volumes
have been added, so that now the students have access to about
2,000 volumes and 800 pamphlets and periodicals."7
The catalogue for 1885 gives the number of volumes as 2,500
and states that $140 had been raised for the Library during the
past year by means of a lecture course given in the University
chapel. "Hereafter students and teachers will have access to the
Library free of charge."8
The Report of the Board of Regents for 1887 gives the size
of the library as 2500 bound volumes and 800 pamphlets and its
value as $3,200. The librarian was Emma Clark, and her annual
salary was $300.
In 1889, at the end of the territorial period, the size of the
Library had grown to about 3,000 bound volumes and 1,000 pamphlets. We find that the Library had been receiving for several
years an annual appropriation from the State of $150.00. The
Librarian in that year was Miss Claire Gatch, also a teacher of
art.   The salary of the office was $100.00 per year.
Vancouver Catholic Library Association
The Report upon Public Libraries in the United States issued
by the United States Bureau of Education in 1876 records but
two libraries in Washington Territory having upwards of 300 volumes. The first of these was the Washington Territorial Library.
The other library mentioned was that of the Holy Angels College
which was established in 1865 by the Vancouver Catholic Library
Association. Mrs. Marion M. Pirkey, Librarian of the Vancouver Public Library, has secured from Mr. James P. Clancy the
following historical sketch. Mr. Clancy, who is still a resident of
Vancouver, was the acting Librarian of Holy Angels College Library at the time of its closing in 1886.   His account follows:
"With the passing of the grim recorder Time, and taking along
most of those who may have had a hand in any of the activities
7 Catalogue,  1882-1883, p.  9.
8. Catalogue, 1884-1885, p.  18. Pacific Northwest Libraries 13
connected therewith, it is difficult for one of the present day to
give exact data in regard to the organization and works of the
above mentioned Library Association.
"With the starting of the Catholic Missionaries in their work
in the early Northwest from the Hudson Bay days of 1825, came
the call for education and literature, and activities were taken up
by such historic characters as Bishop F. N. Blanchet, Rev. Fathers
Manns, Brouillet, G. F. Fierens, and later Bishop E. Junger,
Fathers L. DG. Schram, P. Poaps, F. Flohar and others, and the
Association was duly organized, recognition of the same being
officially made by the National Librarian at Washington, D. C,
at that time, about the year 1865. Among the citizens assisting in
the organization at the time may be found such pioneer business
men and parishioners as Dr. D. Wall, P. O'Keane, Jno. O'Keane,
P. Buckley, N. Du Puis, Jos. Brant, L. Burgey, M. O'Connell,
J. D. Geoghegan, Jno. Walsh, Jos. Healey, Judge J. M. Denny,
John McMullen, Jos. Petrain and many others.
"From the remnants of the old books now on hand and scant
records left for investigation it appears that the library was a
going concern and active about the years 1870 to its close in 1886,
containing over 1000 volumes of current literature of the time,
with a trend of course to religious writers and historical matters
as well.   The library was housed in a large two-room building im-
s mediately in the rear of the Bishop's residence on the grounds of
the St. James Mission property, (the site today being on East 5th
Street as it passes through the Post, Vancouver Barracks, about
two blocks from Reserve Street, in Vancouver, Washington).
"Librarians in charge during the early years were chosen
from among the school teachers and educators of the time; Rev.
Father P. Poaps as instructor at the Holy Angels Academy Col-
f lege about 1875, and later the names of Benj. Wall and Jas. P.
[ Clancy appear as acting librarians, up to the time of the closing
of the library in 1886.
"Today there are about 350 volumes of the early library still
^intact and in good state of preservation stored away at the St.
James Parish residence at Vancouver, Washington. These books
are all properly labeled and numbered, and from lists of names
found in records in some of them, show that the library had a
igood sized patronage among the citizens, who took much pride
in the upkeep and interest in the Association. An inspection of the
old volumes by authorities on the  subject of libraries  will, no 14 Pacific Northwest Libraries
doubt,  prove  interesting  and much  historical   data  might  prove
Walla Walla Library
Library service in Walla Walla began with the incorporation
of the Walla Walla Library Association, which was organized in
the same year as the Vancouver Association. The following
statement is drawn from Frank T. Gilbert's Historic Sketches of
Walla Walla:
"In 1865 the Walla Walla Library Association was incorporated, for the purpose of maintaining a library in this city; $250
were subscribed for such purpose by those interested in the matter, and the membership fee was fixed at $5.00. The officers were
A. J. Thibodo, J. D. Cook, R. Jacobs, J. H. Lasater, L. J. Rector,
and W. W. Johnson. They started in with 150 volumes, and held
together for some time, but finally interest in the matter died out.
It was revived in April, 1874, by organization of the Walla Walla
Lyceum and Library Association, and a library was maintained
for use of members of the society for several years. In December,
1877, a society was formed for the purpose of establishing a free
reading room and library, an institution that had long been needed
in the city. An exhibition of works of art, curios, and relics of
interest kindly furnished by citizens was opened. In this way,
and by means of sociables and various entertainments, considerable
money was procured, and the library fully established. The ladies
deserve special credit for their generous efforts in this work. The
old association donated its books for a nucleus, to which many additions have from time to time been made. The library and reading room are open to the free use of the public."9
Seattle Library Association
In August of 1868, the Seattle Library Association was
formed with Mr. James McNaught as President, Mr. L. S. Smith,
Secretary and Mrs. H. L. Yesler, Librarian. This organization,
like the ones at Steilacoom and Walla Walla, assumed an important place in the social and intellectual life of the community.
Meetings were held frequently, many important lectures were given and literary entertainments were common. "Adult education"
seems to have been the unwritten motto of this organization. Newspaper publicity was given in generous fashion.    Fourteen news
9 Gilbert's Historic  Sketches  of  Walla  Walla   (Portland:   Walling,   1882,)   page   340. Pacific Northwest Libraries
items regarding the work of the Association appear in the Seattle
Intelligencer between the dates of August 10, 1868, and December
21, 1869.
In 1873, Dexter Horton gave $500 conditional upon the securing of $1000 in addition. The total income for that year thus
amounted to over $1800. There were 169 members, 278 volumes
in the library and at one time $1,515 cash on hand. A reading
room was maintained well supplied with the magazines and newspapers of the time. Interest finally flagged, the membership ran
down and in 1881 the Association suspended. The books were at
that time "given to the University."10
In 1888, a newly organized Ladies Library Assoication was
formed due to the backing of Leigh S. J. Hunt, then owner and
editor of the Post-Intelligencer. Mr. Hunt subscribed $1,000 and
the ladies set to work with enthusiasm to raise funds. Mr. H. L.
Yesler presented instead of a subscription a lot at third and Jefferson. This was deeded with the stipulation that the Association be
known as the Yesler Public Library. Eight hundred dollars was
raised by a ball, $300 by a baseball game, and another large amount,
by an excursion to Victoria. The Library was established, though
not upon the Yesler Triangle, and the way was thus paved for the
tax supported public library made possible by the state law of
1890 and suitable provisions in the freeholders Charter of 1890.
The later history of the Seattle Public Library is to be found in
the Annual Report of the Seattle Public Library for 1915, pp. 6-
10. Excellent accounts of the two Library Associations are to be
found in an eight-page manuscript account written by Mr. M. J.
Carkeek and deposited in the Seattle Public Library and the University of Washington Library, and in the unpublished history of
Seattle by Thomas W. Prosch to be consulted in typewritten form
: in the libraries just mentioned.
An account of the development of library service in Seattle
is not complete without reference to the
Reading Room of Mrs. Maynard
Mr. Thomas W. Prosch in his biography of Dr. and Mrs.
Maynard11 gives this record: "The home of the Maynards was in
10 Mr. Thomas W. Prosch in his Chronological History of Seattle, Part 1, page 190,
j says they were "given outright to the University". From snch evidence as is available
r at this time, it would appear however that the books were turned over as a deposit with
i some thought of recalling them at a latter date. Mrs. Carkeek states that when the
; newly organized Ladies Library Association visited the University- in 1888, few traces of
I them could be found.
11 T. W. Prosch's David S. Maynard and Catherine T. Maynard (Seattle, 1906), page
' 78. 16 Pacific Northwest Libraries
the middle of the block on the east side of First Avenue South between Main and Jackson streets. There they lived until his death
in 1873, and there she lived a number of years longer. The last
thing she did there was to start a free reading room. In a large,
light apartment, opening on the street, she placed tables and chairs,
procured books, magazines and newspapers, and invited the public
to use them. For a year or more, in 1875-6, Mrs. Maynard kept
the place open, clean, warm and pleasant. Her example had effect
with others, the result being the establishment of the Young Men's
Christian Association by Dexter Horton and associates, who took
from Mrs. Maynard the burden she had carried so long. The
magnificent tree and fine fruit that have come from the seed thus
planted by this poor woman are known to all. 'The widow's
mite' was greater for good than the proud wealth of many of her
The first public meeting which led to the establishment of the
Y.M.C.A. was held at Mrs. Maynard's home on June 28, 1876.
Several conferences were later held and on August 7, 1876, the
Y.M.C.A. of Seattle was organized with Dexter Horton as its
first President. At the end of the year new quarters were occupied
but from the first a reading room and library has been one of its
<(The Tacoma Library"  of Olympia
Another Association Library antedating 1876 was the "Tacoma Library" of Olympia. This was a library and reading room
of very considerable importance in its day but I have little data
regarding it. The following news item in regard to its first opening is quoted from the Olympia Standard in the Seattle Intelligencer of August 2, 1869:
"The New Library rooms were formally dedicated last Saturday evening. The library is open to the public every evening and
Sundays. Visitors in town will find this an agreeable place to
while away an hour".
The Dayton Library
One of the earliest libraries in Eastern Washington was located at Dayton. Mr. J. Orin Oliphant of Cheney, Washington,
has supplied the following data in regard to this library:
"Another educational advantage here of which the people
were justly proud was the free library and reading room, estab- Pacific Northwest Libraries
lished in the winter of 1876-7 by the Rev. E. A. McAllister and a
few other liberal minded citizens. This little institution did not
endure, though, and a more permanent one was founded in 1882
by the A.O.U.W. and the Ladies Educational Aid Society and several other organizations. Monthly dues of 50 cents were charged
and the library flourished for years. Dr. S. B. L. Penrose of
Whitman College, one of the early pastors of the Congregational
Church here, chose many of the books and the remnants of this
little library now preserved on the shelves of the reading room at
the Dayton Commercial club show the distinctive taste used in the
selection of those volumes."12
"Having no further use for the money, the balance of Dayton's smallpox fund, amounting to $150.00, has been donated to
the library of that place."13
The Spokane Public Library
Like other cities of Territorial days, Spokane made an early
start toward an association library. The population of the town
was but 350 in 1880, yet we find in the Spokan Times for January
1 of that year the following news note: "The Necktie Sociable
given tonight, in Glover's Hall, promises to be a remarkably pleasant affair . . . The object of the entertainment is to make a beginning, with the funds raised, of a public library, a thing much
needed in our midst. It would be a place where the young men
and older ones about town could spend a pleasant evening, as often
as they might choose, improving themselves. It is decidedly a
praiseworthy object."
Progress is shown by the following news items, all taken from
the Spokan Times :14
May 22, 1880: "An amateur entertainment will be given June
1, at Cornelius & Davis* Hall, for the benefit of the Spokan Li-
Nov. 27, 1880: "We are informed by Mr. Rima, secretary of
the association, that at the last meeting Mr. and Mrs. Cook, of
the Times office, were elected honorary members; also, that a
committee was appointed to make necessary arrangements to give
an entertainment on New Year's Eve, for the benefit of the school
12 From  an  article  on pioneer days   at Dayton,   written  by Ernestine   Peabody,   and
published in the Spokane  Spokesman-Review of November  20,   1921.
13 From the Palovse Gazette of November 24, 1882.
14 As  referred  to   under  the   Dayton   Library,   assistance   has   been   rendered   by   Mr.
Oliphant in this case also by searching the rare files of this earliest newspaper of Spokane. 18
Pacific Northwest Libraries
fund. Miss Muzzy was elected librarian. About fifty dollars
worth of new books have been ordered for the association."
March 3, 1881: "The Spokan Library has just received forty
volumes of new books. Thirty additional volumes have been sent
The subsequent history of this library is to be found in outline form in the Annual Report of the Spokane Public Library for
the year 1913, p. 23-24.
Colfax Academy Library Association
An example of cooperation between school and library is
shown in the history of the Colfax Academy Library Association.
Colfax Academy was established in 1878 and had an important
influence in Eastern Washington as one of the first high schools
north of the Snake River. In 1882, the school and the community
united in establishing public library service. Again Mr. Oliphant's
assistance is acknowledged as having supplied the following records of the time:
"Pursuant to a call issued by the principal of Colfax Academy, a goodly number of our citizens met in the Baptist Church
on Monday evening last to perfect the organization of a library
association. Mr. E. N. Beach was unanimously chosen President
of the meeting, and W. J. Davenport Secretary, after which the
body proceeded to adopt a suitable constitution and rules of order. Officers were elected as follows for the ensuing year: President, Dr. W. W. Beach; Vice President, Miss L. H West; Secretary, W. J. Davenport; Treasurer, J. A. Perkins, Librarian, Miss
L- L. West; Executive Committee of Three, W. A. Inman and F.
W. Bunnell, the third supplied by the academy board of trustees,
Rev. Geo. Campbell. Arrangements are being made to present a
lecture and other varied exercises on the occasion of opening the
library. Everything is propitious for a successful termination of
the project thus started, and out of the $312, previously subscribed for the purchase of books, $112 was collected at this meeting. The object of this association is to furnish to those desiring
good books to read an opportunity to secure them at a trifling
cost. Any person may become a life member by paying into the
treasury the sum of $5, and an annual membership costs but $2,
thus enabling all to avail themselves of advantages to be had in
no other way. The sum of $300 has already been expended for
books,  and as  soon  as possible a public  reading  room will be Pacific Northwest Libraries 19
opened in connection with the library. The name of this body
is the "Colfax Academy Library Association," and we say success to the undertaking, for it supplies a want long felt in this
community. Everyone should lend a hand in forwarding this enterprise. Membership fees, either subscribed or otherwise, will
be received by J. A. Perkins, treasurer."15
"The public library will be opened this afternoon for the first
time. Hours from three until six o'clock. There are over three
hundred volumes in the library."16
The  Tacoma Public Library
The Tacoma Public Library dates its history from 1886.
From a "Historical Statement," to be found in the official reports,17 the following information is gleaned:
"In the summer of 1886, Mrs. Grace R. Moore established in
her home a subscription circulating library, the first public circulating library on Puget Sound, though the Steilacoom Library Association, organized in March 1858, had provided library facilities
almost as public. It met a very definite need, even though Tacoma was in those days—to use her own words—"little more than a
frontier town, with ungraded streets, uncleared lots and a small
business district."
This library soon outgrew its original home, and by 1889 had
won public favor to the point of warranting incorporation and a
change of title from the "Mercantile Library of Tacoma" to "The
Public Library." Partial public support was also then received.
It occupied successively quarters in the Wilkeson, Gross and Uhl-
man buildings, Ball Block, and in 1893, the City Hall. In December of that year its trustees voted to present the library to the
City of Tacoma, formal transfer being made in January, 1894."
Charles W. Smith.
15 Palouse Gazette of December 1, 1882.
16 Palouse Gazette of February 16, 1883.
17 Tacoma Public Library Annual Reports, 1919, 1920, page 4. SOME EARLY LIBRARIES OF OREGON
The Oregon State Library has in its possession the original
schedules of the federal census for 1850, 1860 and 1870 which
give most valuable and interesting information concerning early libraries in Oregon. In 1850, Clackamas County reported two libraries, the Territorial Library with 1,500 volumes, and the Mult-
noma (Multnomah Circulating Library) number of volumes not
given; Clatsop County reported one Presbyterian Sunday School
library of 200 volumes, and Clark and Lewis Counties reported
that there were no libraries within their boundaries. ) In 1860,
Clackamas County had none to report; Clatsop had two church
libraries, a Presbyterian and a Methodist; Jackson had one of 100
volumes belonging to a Methodist Sunday School and a Masonic
library of 100 volumes; Linn reported three private libraries, of
200, 350 and 1,000 volumes; Multnomah had three Sunday school
libraries, the Episcopal and Congregational with 300 volumes each,
the Methodist with 1,200 volumes, and also had 250 volumes belonging to a Female Seminary; Washington County reported one
college library (Pacific University) with 1,500 volumes. The
enumerator for Columbia County wrote "There are no public or
private libraries in this county".
By 1870, libraries of all kinds had increased very materially.
Nearly all counties had Sunday School and Church or Pastor's
[libraries. Grant and Marion counties reported Odd Fellows libraries, the former having 178 volumes, the latter, 800. Clatsop
had a Masonic library with 118 volumes.    There were Collegejj-
Jararies—in-JBenton County (Corvallis College) with 300 volumes;
Clackamas County (probably Oregon City University), 100 volumes; Linn County (Albany College) with 1,000 volumes; and
Washington County (Padfic^Umyersity^^J^QOO. There were cir-
culatjiigjibraries in Benton County,  which had two_subscription
<librajdes_jadlh--a total of 550 books; Clackamas, one subscription,
with 50 books; Clatsop, one city library, with 1,161; Coos, 1 subscription, with 50; Multnomah, two subscription, with a total of
6,000 volumes, and Yam Hill with a subscription library of 400
When the United States Bureau of Education published its
Public Libraries in the United States of America in 1876, it gave
the following for Oregon:
i : Pacific Northwest Libraries 21
"Albany, Albany Collegiate Institute, 1,250 volumes and
Young Ladies' and Gentlemen's Society, 300 volumes; Astoria,
Pioneer and Historical Society of Oregon, founded 1871, 600 volumes; Corvallis, Library Association,_iounded 1873, 350_j&olumes ;
Forest Grove, Pacific University and Tualatin Academy, founded
1853, 5,500 volumes; Portland, Bishop Scott Grammar and Divinity School, founded 1870, 3,500 volumes, Library Association,
founded 1864, 7,785 volumes, St. Helen's Hail," founded 1869, 400
volumes7~Salem, Oregon Natural History and Library Association,
founded 1874, 400 volumes, ^_^J:_ibr^, founded 1850^^57
volumes, State Prison, 600 volumes, Willamette University, founded 1844, 2,000 volumes, and Willamette University Society libraries, 500 volumes."
There were many private libraries and the size of these was
surprisingly large; Benton had 400, with a total of 50,000 volumes; Douglas, 12 and 3,000 volumes; Linn 60 and 8,000 volumes; Marion 60 and 10,000 volumes; Multnomah 1200 and 150,-
00()_xolumesj Polk, 19 and 10,000 Umafffla 12 and 4,000 volumes;
Wasco, 8 and 2,505 volumes} Washington 16 and 7,400 volumes;
Yam Hill, 300 and 15,000 volumes.
But there were libraries in Oregon before the census of 1850
and they were circulating libraries too, for the use of the community.
Hudson's Bay Company Library
The first circulating library on the Pacific coast was that of
the Hudson's Bay Company officers at Vancouver. Dr. Tolmie,
in a letter published in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions
for 1884, says: "By 1836, a circulating library of papers, magazines, and some books, set on foot by the officers, was in 'full
blast'." He also says that books were bought from the Boston
merchant captains who were buying furs on the coast.
Mention of this library is also made by T. C. Elliott in his
"Peter Skene Ogden, Fur Trader" which appeared in the Oregon
Historical Society Quarterly, September, 1910:
"One further item regarding the three and one-half years on
the coast is worth mentioning. It was then that the first circulating library of the Pacific coast was started. The record is that
the Gentlemen of the coasting trade contributed to a fund and had
brought from England the later books and magazines and circulated them from one post to another.    In his journal Dr. Tolmie 22
Pacific Northwest Libraries
speaks of receiving from Mr. Ogden the Life of Edmund Burke
and Franklin's First Journey to the North."
Multnomah Circulating Library
The organization, about 1840T of the Multnomah Circulating
Library at Willamette Falls (Oregon City) was an important
event.   Gray, in his History of Oregon, says of this:
"A consultation was held at the house of Gray to consider
the expediency of organizing a provisional government. In it the
whole condition of the settlement, the missions, and Hudson's Bay
Company, were carefully looked at, and all the influences combined
against the organization of a settler's government were fully canvassed. The conclusion was that no direct effort could succeed,
as it had already been tried and failed . . . Two plans were
suggested . . . The first was to get up a circulating library, and
by that means draw attention and discussion to subjects of interest
to the settlement and secure the influence of the Methodist Mission, as education was a subject they had commenced. We found
no difficulty in the library movement from them, only they seemed
anxious to keep from the library a certain class of light reading,
which they appeared tenacious about. This was not the vital point
with the original movers, so they yielded it. The library prospered finely; one hundred shares were taken at five dollars a
share; three hundred volumes of old books collected and placed
in this institution which was called the Multnomah Circulating Library ; one hundred dollars were &ent to New York for new books
which arrived the following year.'j
The Multnomah Circulating Library, "a very good circulating
library" as J. W. Nesmith called it in one of his letters, was incorporated by Act of the House of Representatives of the Provisional government, August 19, 1845, being the second corporation
authorized in Oregon.
Senafor Nesmith in an address before the Oregon Pioneer
Association in 1875 gives the following interesting anecdote:
"In the small collection of books at the Falls known as the
Multnomah Library, I found what I had never heard of before,
a copy of Jefferson's Manual, and after giving it an evening's
perusal by the light of an armful of pitch knots, I found that there
was such a thing in parliamentary usage as 'the previous question/
"I had a bill then pending to cut off the southern end of Yamhill, and to establish the county of Polk, which measure had vio- Pacific Northwest Libraries 23
lent opposition in the body. One morning while most of the opponents of my bill were amusing themselves at 'horse billiards' in
Lee's ten-pin alley, I called up my bill, and, after making the best
argument I could, I concluded with: 'And now, Mr. Speaker,
upon this bill I move the previous question.' Newell looked confused, and I was satisfied that he had no conception of what I
meant; but he rallied, and, looking wise and severe (I have since
seen presiding officers in Washington do the same thing) said:
'Sit down, sir! Resume your seat! Do you intend to trifle with
the Chair! When you know that we passed the previous question
two weeks ago? It was the first thing we done!' I got a vote,
however, before the return of the 'horse billiard' players, and Polk
County has a legal existence today, notwithstanding the adverse
ruling upon a question of parliamentary usage."
This probably was the library mentioned by Thornton in Oregon and California in 1848 when he gave as one of the attractions
of Oregon City "a public library containing three hundred well-
selected volumes."
The Pioneer Lyceum and Literary Club formed in the winter
of 1842-3 at Willamette Falls gave opportunity for its members to j
meet for discussion of topics of general interest.
Sunday School Libraries
The early missionaries soon developed a system of Sunday
School libraries which helped in a way to meet the constant demand for books. Walling's Illustrated History of Lane County
says of the First Baptist Church of Eugene:
"On April 16, 1864, we have the first mention of a Sabbath}
School when a committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions for j
the purpose of forming a library."
The "Letters of the Reverend William M. Roberts, Third
Superintendent of the Oregon Missions" frequently mention this
subject. March 18, 1848, he wrote from Oregon City to the Rev.|
D. P. Kidder, Corresponding Secretary of the Sunday School
Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as follows:
"At this time there are but two Sabbath schools really organ-|
ised in this country under the care of our Church. One at this cityl
with one Sup. 8 Teach. 48 Scholars & 150 volumes in the Library . . . There were a few vol. of Books in the Library when
we arrived in the country but those reported above are the set furnished by the kindness of the board in the autumn of 1846. The
^r- 24
Pacific Northwest Libraries
other school is at Salem and is held in the Oregon Institute. It
has 2 Superintendents, 10 Teach., 40 Scholars, and upwards of
159 volumes in the Library . . . The donation of Books which
we brought to this country were I think judicially selected and
will be of great advantage . . . The 10 sets of Library Books
placed in my hands I have disposed of as follows, Sabbath School
at San Francisco uper [sic] California, 1 Set of 150 vols, another
at this place in the School and another at the school at Salem. It
is possible that we may break one or two of the sets for the sake
of getting Books to place in the hands of Children in various parts
of the country where as yet we can have no school. The rest will
be reserved for new schools as they may be formed in various
parts of the country."
A year later, February 14, 1849, he again wrote to the Corresponding Secretary:
"Many persons enquire of us for books. They hear of the libraries of the A. T. Soc. [American Tract Society] and of the
Harper & C and they wish to send money by us to buy some of
these Libraries. Now we tell them we have libraries and books of
the very best kind, and cheap too and moreover that we will have
some brought out to this country as soon as possible."
Library Association of Portland^
The Library Association of Portland was organized, in 1864,
largely through the efforts of L. H. Wakefield. Seeing the need
of such an organization, Mr. Wakefield began a canvass for subscriptions, and having secured $2,500.00 in a few days, a call was
issued for a meeting of the subscribers. This meeting was held
in the U. S. District Courtroom January 12, 1864, and Honorable
Matthew P. Deady was made* president of the temporary organization. It was decided to call the organization the Mercantile Li-
Ibrary Association; but this was later changed to the Library Association of Portland. On February 20, another meeting was held,
and directors chosen, who at a meeting on March 3 elected W. S.
Ladd, president, and William Strong vice-president. Dues were
placed at $3.00 a quarter and there was an initiation fee of $5.00
which was reduced to $2.00 in 1867 and abolished in 1869.
Having secured rooms on the second floor of the Stark building and having money available for equipment, the officers ordered
a long list of periodicals and forwarded $2,000.00 to Judge Nelson
and J. A. Hatt of New York City for the purchase of books. Pacific Northwest Libraries
They selected 1400 volumes and forwarded them by way of the
Isthmus. They arrived in November and were placed on the
shelves by Harvey W. Scott, the first librarian, who served until
the following May when he resigned to begin his connection of
many years with the Oregonian.
In 1869, through the generosity of Mr. Ladd and Mr. Tilton
the association was able to occupy rooms over the bank at the
Southwest corner of First and Stark streets, and through renewals
of the offer continued to occupy the same quarters, free of rent,
until June 1893, a gift of great importance to a struggling institution.
Judge Deady early suggested a plan for the sale of forty or
more perpetual memberships to be sold at $250.00 apiece and succeeded in procuring signatures of 101 subscribers and in raising a
fund of $25,250.00.
The early history of the Association was filled with financial
difficulties. At the end of the first year, it owed for current expenses $684.25, but through special effort most of this was raised
between the end of the year and the first of March. The membership increased gradually but it was not unusual for members to
give their names but never pay any money.
By 1867, the Association owned about 2,000 volumes, many
of them public documents, the gifts of Oregon's representatives in
Congress. An inventory taken February 22, 1867, showed sixty
or seventy volumes missing, probably stolen.
The report for 1869 stated that through an arrangement with
. the Council, the librarian was about to assume the duties of
meteorological observer for the city, forf which he was to receive
$15.00 a month. The reports of the librarian for 1870 and 1874
also contain his report as meteorological observer and give the
readings of the barometer, and the records of snow, rain and temperature for the year. Judge Deady thought it extremely important to keep and publish an authentic weather record of our
"wholesome, temperate, and agreeable climate".
Pacific University, Forest Grove
One of the most interesting of the early libraries is that of
Pacific University at Forest Grove.    In 1852, when Sidney Har-1
per Marsh was offered the presidency of the new institution, he
was given a year in which to make special preparation for his
work and gather books. for the library.    The library had been | 26
Pacific Northwest Libraries
started before his arrival in Oregon, and when the charter was
granted giving full collegiate privileges to "Tualatin Academy and
Pacific University", one thousand volumes were in the library, the
result of the efforts of Dr. Atkinson, who had been sent out by
the Home Missionary Society of the Congregational Church. The
first book, a History of Harvard College, was given in 1859 by
Rev. C. S. Damon, seaman's chaplain at Hawaii.
The Souvenir Bulletin, Articles Exhibited by Pacific University at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909 has this to say
of their valuable collection:
"Many authors gave of their works, Longfellow, Rufus
Choate, Edward Everett Hale. The most interesting collection
came from the family of Rev. Jedidiah Morse, for thirty years a
leader in geographical knowledge, who gave his extensive collection of works of geography and travels. From this family came
Ptolemy's Universal Geography printed in 1542, and for the physical laboratory the sounder, receiver and key used by S. F. B.
Morse in developing the electric telegraph."
This library also contained important works from the printing
press of the Oregon Mission, and some of the choice works of the
early printers—Aldus, Elzevir, and Plantin.
Albany College
The Library of Albany College was founded at the annual
(meeting held on January 24, 1868. Books belonging to the Albany
Library and Literary Institute were donated, and a room in the
College building chosen as a library, which was to be free to all
the donors, members of the Institute. By the time the decennial
census was taken in 1870, Albany was able to report 1,000 volumes
in its college library.
j Corvallis
Articles of incorporation for the Corvallis Library Association^
were filed in the office of the County Clerk, December 24, 1872./
The articles state the Association "shall endure fifty years" and
that its purpose and object "is to purchase and possess a library of
a miscellaneous character for general reading on all subjects of a
literary, scientific and entertaining description, to have and possess
a room suitable for the same." The capital stock was five thousand dollars gold coin and the shares were "fifty dollars gold
coin."     How   long  this   Association   lasted   is   not   known—the Pacific Northwest Libraries
Articles of Incorporation gave fifty years as the duration of the
corporation but some time before 1880, probably in the late 1870's ,
the books were given to the Adelphian Literary Society of Cor- |
vallis   College,  which  in   1885  became  the  Oregon  Agricultural \
The present Corvallis Public Library is. an outgrowth of the
work of the "Coffee-Club" which was started some years later.
University of Oregon
When the University of Oregon opened in 1876^ it was entirely without library facilities, but during the second year students
of the institution through their two literary societies purchased a
collection of about 500 volumes from the Eugene Library Association, and arranged to care for them. The Eugene Library Association had been formed on February 7, 1874, and opened its doors
to the public April 23 of the same year. While it had an auspicious start, it lasted only a short time.
The University collection increased very slowly and was inadequate to meet the needs of the school. Finally Henry Villard
came to the rescue and his offer of help is given in a letter to the
Board of Regents, dated October 25, 1881, and printed in Waiting's Illustrated History of Lane County in which Mr. Villard
"2nd. That I will give one thousand dollars for the foundation of a Library for the University. I will personally undertake to have the most suitable works of references selected by
competent eperts."
In 1883, Mr. Villard gave property valued at $50,000 to constitute a perpetual endowment fund for the University and stipulated that from the annual income not less than four hundred
dollars was to be expended regularly for building up the library.
For eighteen years this four hundred dollars was the main source i
of funds as the State made no appropriation.
Territorial Library
Oregonians early realized the importance of a collection of
books for official use. The minutes of the public meeting of the
inhabitants of Oregon Territory held on July 5th, 1843, printed in
the Oregon Archives, contains the following, "Moved and carried,
to purchase several law books, of Jas. O'Neill, to be the property
of this community" but the amount paid and the titles of the books
are not given. 28 Pacific Northwest Libraries
In the enabling act of August 14, 1848, Congress appropriated
/ $5,000 for a library to be maintained at the seat of government.
J. Quinn Thornton in his memorial to Congress, writes:
"Your memorialist prays that the sum of ten thousand dollars
may be appropriated, to be expended in the purchase of a library,
to be kept at the seat of government for the use of the governor,
secretary, legislature, judges, marshal, district attorney, and such
other persons, and under such regulations as may be prescribed by
law. The fact that the inhabitable part of the Territory is so remote from the seat of the national government, and that access
cannot be had to any books or libraries, is a circumstance rendering it expedient to make this appropriation much larger than might,
under other circumstances, be necessary. The necessary books of
reports in the departments of law alone would cost a large sum, to
say nothing of books upon the science of government, general
politics, history, education, agriculture, horticulture, &c."
Samuel Royal Thurston, first delegate to Congress from
Oregon Territory, was much interested in the library and in the
diary kept while in Washington frequently mentions the documents which he has secured for the Territorial Library—charts
of the battlefields in Mexico, patent reports, publications of the
Wilkes Exploring Expedition, narrative and scientific works of
the Coast Survey being among the publications. His diary for
June 24, 1850, has the following item: "Also wrote a letter to
J. McBride suggesting to him the idea of circulating libraries in
Oregon.   Wrote to Linn City on the same subject."
F. G. Young in his "Financial History of Oregon" which
appeared in the Oregon Historical Society Quarterly, 1907, gives
the following account of the money appropriated:
"The five-thousand dollar appropriation for a territorial library
incorporated in the act organizing the Territory was quite naturally
placed at the command of the newly appointed governors as soon
as they qualified, and while yet in the East, so that they could
more conveniently make suitable purchases of books. The record
of the disbursement of this library fund is found in communications by Governors Lane and Gaines, respectively, in response to
resolutions by the Territorial House of Representatives enquiring
as to what disposition had been made of this money.
"On July 26, 1849^ Governor Lane, in reply to the request
i made on the fifth day of the first session of the first House, said,
'that books to the amount of two thousand dollars have been purchased in New York, and shipped for Oregon last winter, and Pacific Northwest Libraries 29
that the balance of the appropriation will be applied, as provided
by law of Congress.' On December 8, 1852, Governor Gaines had
a similar inquiry made of him to which he responded as follows:
" 'I received from the treasury of the United States $3,000.00,
which was [in]vested in books and maps, and placed in a room
fitted up for the purpose in Oregon City, and delivered nearly two
years since to Mr. J. Turner, the librarian elected by the Legislative Assembly, together with a catalogue of the entire purchase,
since which time, I have exercised no control whatever over the
library.' A voucher from the comptroller of the Treasury accompanied this statement.
"In the quarrel between Gov. Gaines and the territorial legislature over the validity of the act of the latter locating the seat
of government, the penitentiary, and the territorial university, the
retention of the library at Oregon City—the original seat of government—it made a subject of complaint by the legislature in its
memorial to Congress in December 1851. In this memorial the
legislature asked for permission for themselves to elect their
Governor, Secretary and judges."
The Biennial Report of the Oregon State Library for 1880
contains a brief history of the library and its librarians, who usu- j
ally were students using this means of paying their expenses
while studying law. Several of these later became prominent in
the State. The first Librarian was Aaron E. Wait, afterwards
Chief Justice of Oregon, who served two years. Others who held
the position for terms, usually brief, were James D. Turner,
Ludlow Rector, Chester N. Terry, Milton Shannon, F. S. Hoyt
and B. F. Bonham during territorial times, and J. C. Peebles, Geo.
J. Ryan, and S. C. Simpson, brother of Sam Simpson, during the
early days of statehood.
The Territorial Library originally was located at Oregon City, I
then the seat of government, but the Legislative Assembly of
1851-52 ordered the librarian to move the library from Oregon
City to Salem, on or before January 1, 1852. That this was not
done before this date is shown in the report of the librarian for
1852, which contains a letter from Adams & Co., dated September
27, 1852, stating that they had been holding in their office for
two months a shipment of books for the Territorial Library which
had been delivered to the librarian at Oregon City who refused to
pay the freight charges amounting to $39.00.
The Report of the Librarian for 1854 shows "1,735 volumes
of miscellaneous and law books in the library."    In 1855, between 30 Pacific Northwest Libraries
Christmas and New Year, the capitol building was burned and
most of the library destroyed, the only books saved being the few
in circulation. The Legislature which convened in the fall of 1856
passed a joint memorial asking Congress for an appropriation of
$20,000 but Congress granted only $500.
After the first the small collection of books which grew very
slowly was moved from one place to another, occupying in turn
the Old Court House, the Rector House, the Opera House and
► the Grover Building, until in  1878  it was removed to  the new
S capital building.
During Territorial days Congress had complete control of the
library. A salary of $250.00 a year was paid until 1855, when it
was raised to $500.00 but when Oregon had been admitted to
statehood and the State Legislature assumed control, the salary was
fixed at $150.00 a year. From the fire in 1855 until 1880, only
$4,100 had been appropriated for the purchase of books, but the
librarian in 1880 reported 9,283 volumes in the library, mostly
law books and public documents, with the American Encyclopedia,
Zells Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica. By 1878 it
had assumed such importance that there were twenty-two applicants for the position of librarian.
The "Report of the Librarian and a Catalogue of the Territorial Library" are published as appendices to the Journals of
the Legislature in 1852-54. It is interesting to note the character
of the books, and to see that from the beginning it was thought
necessary to have in the State a good collection of books of various
\subjects. Some of the titles contained m~trie catalogue for 1852
in addition to the law texts and reports, are Goldsmith's Works,
U.S. Dispensatory, Vicar of Wakefield, Gulliver's Travels, Schiller's
Thirty Year's War, Darwin's Voyages, American Ornithology,
Geography of the Heavens and American Architect. The catalogue
for 1854 contains several books on medicine, several astronomies,
the American Rifle, by Chapman, Manual of Practical Assaying,
Angler's Guide, Angler Complete, by Walton, Bible and Gipsies in
Spain, by Barrow [Borrow], Birds of America (105 pamphlets),
Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture, many
books of poems, the works of Scott and Cooper, and some other
fiction—on the whole a well selected general library.
During the early days of Statehood, the librarians usually
emphasized the need of larger and more regular appropriations to
fill the many gaps in the collection. In 1872, the Librarian S. C.
Simpson, in closing his report says: Pacific Northwest Libraries
"In conclusion, permit me to suggest that the State Library is
deserving of more attention at the hands of the Legislature than
it has yet received. The foundation of a good Library ought to
be one of the first concerns of a young state. . . . But Oregon
hasn't even the nucleus of such a Library. This is, in fact, one of
the most constantly and consistently neglected institutions of the
State. . . . It is inferior to the library of many a respectable
village in the Eastern States. . . . There is no reason in the
world why Oregon should occupy the bad eminence of having the
poorest Library of any State in the Union. The Library has no
value at all except as a Law Library. Yet even that department is
scantily furnished. . . . There are only three full sets of Reports in it—those of New York, Mass. & Ky." Mr. Simpson then
suggested that regular biennial appropriations be made and after
the Law Library had been adequately equipped that "the appropriation might then be continued and applied to the purchase of
books for a miscellaneous department."
In reviewing this history of the early State and Territorial
Libraries, it is most interesting to note the emphasis that, from
the start, has been placed on the desirability of a circulating library
for the people of the State: in 1843, through the purchase of books
from Jas. O'Neill; in 1848, by Thornton in his memorial to Congress ; in 1850, by Thurston in his letter to J. McBride; by those
who selected the books for the Territorial Library, and by the
librarians who heard the call from the people and did their best
to bring it to the attention of the Legislature.
Mirpah G. Blair.
In reviewing the earliest library movement in British Columbia
one must cast his mind back to the days when the western portion
of British North America was little more than a huge fur reserve,
and the only contact with civilization was through the fur trading
posts scattered at great distances throughout this vast territory.
The fur trading companies realised, just as we do today, that
the supply of reading matter was an essential part of the equipment of these small communities.
The Hudson's Bay Company had so-called libraries at all their
district offices, the size of the library depending largely on the
situation of the district office. For instance, York Factory, Norway House, Fort Vancouver and Victoria had quite large libraries
because each ship carrying settlers or servants was suplied with a
library and was instructed to turn the library over to the fur trade
on arrival at its destination. After these books had all been read
they were passed on to other districts; for instance, those coming
on ships to York Factory went to Norway House, Winnipeg, thence
up the big Saskatchewan and down the McKenzie River. Those
landed from ships arriving at this coast, after being read at Victoria, went on to Port Simpson and Fort St. James, after which
they were distributed to smaller posts, a few here and a few there.
The classes of books suplied covered all branches of knowledge, the largest percentage being fiction. In addition to books
the Hudson's Bay Company sent out the London Times and other
leading journals for circulation among its servants, but as can be
readily understood, owing to the limited means of communication,
these papers were often a year old before they were received at
some of the distant posts.
According to W. F. Tolmie the first circulating library oil the
Pacific Slope had its inception at Fort Vancouver in 1833. The
idea of establishing a circulating library among the officers of the
Hudson's Bay Company having been conceived by Mr. Anderson
and Chief-trader Donald Manson, the suggestion was readily approved by Dr. McLaughlin and James Douglas. A subscription
library was formed and successfully operated for ten years or
until the year of founding Fort Victoria in 1843, the field of operations of the Hudson's Bay Company having been removed owing
to the uncertainty of the outcome of the Oregon boundary dispute.
(32) Pacific Northwest Libraries 33
The British Government made a grant of exclusive privilege
on Vancouver Island upon condition that settlement would be encouraged, but although the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island
was created in 1849, there were very few inhabitants until 1858
when gold was discovered on the Fraser River, bringing about a
great influx of miners and others. With this sudden rush of
population and for the purpose of maintaining law and order a
separate Colony was formed on the mainland. The two Colonies
united under the name of Colony of British Columbia in 1866.
During all this time, or until 1860, the inhabitants of the
Colony were very little better off for library facilities, than the
fur traders; in fact, the first newspaper in British Columbia was
not published until June 1858.
As in most places the Mechanics or Literary Institutes became the forerunner of the Public Library movement. In Victoria
a Mechanics Literary Institute was opened on December 15, 1864,
with about 250 volumes, the subscription being $1 per month, $10
per annum and $50 life membership. As indicating the benefits
to be derived from this Institute the following is quoted from an
advertisement in a local paper:—
"An Institution tending to the advantage both of the individual and of the community at large to diminish crime and
to diffuse a healthy moral tone among those who are the bone
and muscle, the sinew and fibre of the infant Colony."
It may be mentioned that one of the first visitors to the Institute was Charles Kean, the noted English actor, who happpened
to be playing in Victoria at the time.
The collection was removed to the City Hall about 1880 where
it remained until the new Carnegie Library was opened in 1904.
Another Literary Institute on Vancouver Island was one
located at Nanaimo, the center of the coal mining industry. It was
founded in 1862 in connection with St. Paul's Church and was
commonly known as "St. Paul's Literary Institute," and the constitution called for its supervision by its officiating minister. The
members considered this too denominational, and had it moved to
Messrs. Gordon and Blessing's Building on Commercial Street, the
name being changed to the Nanaimo Literary Institute. In November 1864, Governor Kennedy laid the foundation stone of a new
building. It was a two-storied structure and was erected by money
raised at concerts, lectures, etc., and by voluntary contributions
of the inhabitants. It contained Reading and Committee Rooms,
Public Hall for concerts, etc.    Mr. Mark Bate, an early pioneer 34
Pacific Northwest Libraries
of the district, and to whom I am indebted for much of this information, served as President for a lengthy period. Samuel
Gough, late City Clerk of Nanaimo was Secretary for nearly
twenty years. The Institute Building was acquired by the Corporation for Muncipal purposes in 1886 and with the addition of
about 20 feet to its length the building still serves as the City
In regard to the Mainland of British Columbia, the New
Westminster Library has an interesting history insofar that what
formed the nucleus of that library was brought out by the main
body of the Royal Engineers who sailed from England on the
Thames City in 1858. The books were selected by Sir E.Bulwer
Lytton and purchased by the officers and men. Several books were
donated by Queen Victoria, Lady Franklin and the Duke of Westminster. The Queen gave a handsome volume of the speeches of
the Prince Consort. Lord Lytton gave a cash contribution. The
collection which was valued at £500 was housed at the Club of the
Royal Engineers Camp, and when this famous corps was disbanded in November, 1863, the library was handed over to the citizens
of New Westminster and transferred to the old Mint Building
where a Mechanics Institute was established. About 1890, the
books were removed to enable the wooden building to be torn
down and replaced by a brick one, where the City Hall now stands.
The building had several stores on the ground floor and the library
upstairs. The library continued its usefulness until the great fire
of September 10, 1898, swept this building and library out of exis-
tance. Only the books in the hands of readers whose homes escaped the flames and the "Queen's Book" which Alderman Johnston
rescued at some personal risk were saved. In 1899, a library committee was formed and an appeal made to start a new library.
Provision was made for this when the new City Hall was built and
here it was housed until the new Carnegie Building was erected.
The mining activities in the Cariboo district in the sixties
attracted quite a large number of miners and others and in the
natural trend of development the want of a library was soon felt.
In June, 1865, a reading room and circulating library was established at Camerontown, one of the three camps on Williams Creek
in the Cariboo Mining district. John Bowron was Librarian.
Apparently with the intention of distinguishing this learned institution from the establishment carried on by Ben Lichtenstein who
not only ran a circulating library but made public the fact that
he was also the vendor of choice Havanna cigars, pen knives, per- >JP>r
Pacific Northwest Libraries 35
fumery and wax matches at 75 cents per dozen, the circulating
library changed its name to Cariboo Literary Institute. At the first
of October, 1866, the Library contained 437 volumes and numbered
104 subscribers. The average circulation being 60 volumes per
week. The reading room was supplied with 14 weekly and 2 semi-
weekly newspapers, also the following magazines: and reviews:—
Blackwoods, Harpers, London Quarterly, North British, Westminster and Edinburgh Review. The Government presented Black's
Atlas of the World, Lewis' American Sportsman and Burton's
Cyclopaedia of Wit and Humor. (Probably the latter volume inspired Sawney to write his Cariboo rhymes).
We are informed that the Library consisted of works on Religion, Science, History, Poetry in addition to fiction and the
reference section contained Worcester's Large Pictorial Dictionary,
Ure's Dictionary of the Arts, Manufactures and Mines, Lippin-
cott's Pronouncing • Gazetteer of the World and Homan's Cyclopaedia of Commerce. The terms of subscription were $2 per
month or $5 per quarter. Single volumes were loaned at 50 cents
per volume with $1 deposit. Persons not subscribers who visited
the reading room and made use of books or papers were charged
25 cents for each visit. The Institute was open from 10 A.M. to
10 P.M.
In order to give some idea of the district and condition of
the Community served by this mental outfit it may be mentioned
that Williams Creek is two miles long with a population in 1865
of 2,000 men, divided into three camps, Richfield, Barkerville and
Camerontown. The population was housed in stately dwellings
ranging in size from seven feet by nine feet to eight feet by ten
feet, and from eight to ten feet high, in many of which half a
dozen of hardy, honest miners were domiciled. Camerontown
where the Institute was located obtained its name from the well
known miner "Cariboo" Cameron, who struck it rich at this point
in 1862, the mine yielding $1,000 to the foot.
In regard to the establishment of Public Libraries in Vancouver, I cannot do better than quote the account as given by Mr.
Harry Cotton, who says:
"Credit for the establishment of a public library in Vancouver
is mainly due to the late Father Clinton, for many years the devoted
rector of St. James Church. Realizing that the young men, who, in
the early days, constituted the greater portion of Vancouver's inhabitants, had no place in which to spend their leisure time, outside the numerous saloons, Father Clinton, in 1887, conceived the
m 36 Pacific Northwest Libraries
idea of starting a public readingroom and library. He broached
the subject to some of the leading citizens of the time, all of
whom promised the movement hearty support. 1
"Quarters were secured on the upper floor of a two story
brick building, known as 136 Cordova street west, which was then
in the centre of the business section. This building, erected soon
after the Great Fire of '86, was demolished last year.
"It was proposed that the library should be supported by public
donations and a monthly subscription of 50 cents. At the start the
institution was fortunate in securing some 400 or 500 books from
the Hastings Literary Institute, whose origin dated from the early
days when the only settlements on Burrard Inlet were around the
old Moodyville and Hastings mills. For the benefit of the employees, each of these mills provided a reading-room.
"With the springing up of Vancouver many employees left
the vicinity of the mill and usefulness of the reading-room became
a thing of the past. It was accordingly agreed that the library
should be donated to the new Vancouver institution.
"The opening of the library and reading-room took place early
in December, 1887, and at a meeting held in that month the following officers were appointed: President, Rev. H.G.F. Clinton;
Treasurer, E.V. Bodwell; Secretary, Dr. Bodington; Librarian,
George Pollay; Executive Committee, J.C. Keith, M. H. Hirsch-
berg, J. Calister, H. P. McCarney, Father Fay and Ainslie J.
Mouat; Trustees H. Abbott, R.H. Alexander and F.C. Cotton.
"After a year's trial it was found that owing to the small fee
the library was not patronized by those for whom it was founded.
So in April, 1889, application was made to the Council for a grant
and $250 was donated, this being the first civic appropriation for
library purposes.
"In 1890, Mr. George Pollay, who had gratuitously acted as
Librarian from the start, resigned that position owing to business
engagements, although he continued to take a deep interest in the
Library and was for many years a member of the Board. Mr.
Pollay died at Discovery, Atlin, in 1912. His widow is still a
resident of Vancouver, and lives at 743 Eighteenth avenue east.
"The Council of this period was induced to assist the Library
more liberally and an annual grant of $2,000 was authorized. It
was decided to engage a regular Librarian and the choice fortunately fell on the late Mr. Edwin Machin, an English lawyer, who
had just arrived in the city with his wife and daughter, the latter
being now the wife of Mr. Herbert Beeman, Assistant Secretary Pacific Northwest Libraries
of the Board of Trade. The Council also from this date appointed
a library committee from citizens interested in its work.
"Too much credit cannot be given to Mr. and Mrs. Machin
for their work in the early and struggling days of the library.
Although the salary for several years was only a miserable pittance
of $65 per month, the Library was kept open morning, noon and
night, Mr. Machin being relieved by his wife and daughter. When
they assumed charge the Library shelves were almost bare and
the civic appropriation was too small to permit of any extensive
purchases. But by begging books from friends in this country and
in England, Mr. and Mrs. Machin obtained sufficient to make the
institution something more than just a library in name.
"In 1893 the City Council appointed two Aldermen to the
Board, Aldermen Salsbury and Towler, which probably accounted
for the increased appropration of $3,600. The library quarters
had for some time been too small, so in June, 1893, a move was
made to 169 Hastings Street west. This building is now occupied
by a beer parlor and the Astor Hotel, but was originally intended
for a very different purpose, having been erected by the Y.M.C.A.
which, however, lost it a short time later.
"The purchase of a central site and erection of a modern
library were frequently discussed. For some years the late Andrew Carnegie had been building libraries in the United States and
made that Vancouver should approach the wealthy iron-master and
in 1901 this was done.
"Who first made the suggestion was never really settled despite a somewhat heated newspaper controversy, but the general
opinion was that Mr. A. Allayne Jones, who is still a resident
here, deserved the credit. Anyway a formal request for a grant
was addressed to Mr. Carnegie on February 28, 1901, to which he
replied on March 6, as follows: If the city of Vancouver will
furnish a suitable site and agree to spend $5,000 a year to maintain a library, I shall be glad to give $50,000 towards the erection
of a building.
"The offer having been accepted, the next move was to secure
a site and on this point a wide diversity of opinion existed. Many
today, especiallly residents of the West End and Kitsilano, complain that the site is not central, but the matter was settled by the
vote of the citizens. Two sites were voted on, the present location
and lots 11, 12 and 13, blocks 26 of 541. The latter lots are at
the southwest corner of Pender and Hamilton Streets and are now 38 Pacific Northwest Libraries
occupied by the I.O.O.F. Hall and Board of Trade rooms. On
election day, August 5, 1901, the East End and Mount Pleasant
voters turned out in force and piled up 746 votes for the present
site, while only 407 votes were mustered for the Pender street
location. The plans of G.W. Grant, a well-known architect, whose
death was recently recorded, were accepted and the foundation
stone laid under Masonic auspices. But as everything had to be
submitted to Mr. Carnegie, progress was slow and it was not until
late in 1903 that the building was opened.
"Mr. Machin continued to act as Librarian until January 5,
1910, when illness resulting from a fall from a street car caused
his resignation, which was received with the greatest regret. Mrs.
Machin continued to hold office as Assistant Librarian for some
years until ill-health compelled her to give up a task in which she
had taken such a great interest. Mr. Machin was succeeded as
librarian by A. E. Goodman, who held the position for a few months
and he in turn by R.W. Douglas, who resigned about eighteen
months ago, at which time Mr. E.S. Robinson the present librarian
was appointed."
While I am only dealing with the older libraries of the Province, mention might be made of the finely equipped library housed
at the University of British Columbia, and under the energetic
supervision of its Librarian, Mr. John Ridington, it is destined to
become a large factor in library service in the Province.
To return to the capital city, Victoria, we have the Provincial
Library which really antedates all other libraries in the Province
of British Columbia. We find that as far back as 1863 the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island voted $1,000 for the formation of a Parliamentary Library. But as early as 1849 the first
Governor of the Colony, Mr. Richard Blanshard, had brought a
small library out with him from England, and the records show
that it cost £51.8.6.
At first there was no regular Librarian for the Legislative
Library. The books were kept in a small room adjoining the
Assembly Hall and Members of the Legislature helped themselves.
Such a system of course could only result in confusion and. the
loss of many volumes.
From 1886-1888, Mr. Wm. Atkins had charge of the Library
during the Session, and from thence till 1893 Mr. Joseph Bridgman
held the position. The first permanent appointment was made in 1893
when Mr. R. E. Gosnell became Provincial Librarian. The Library
at this time only contained about three  thousand volumes,  and Pacific Northwest Libraries 39
these were principally Parlimentary papers. Mr. Gosnell extended
the scope of the Library very much, paying particular attention
to the collection of material relating to the history of the Province,
and thus laying the foundation of what was destined to become
later a very important department of the Government.
Mr. E.O.S. Scholefield was appointed assistant to Mr. Gosnell
in 1894, and in 1898 to the chief position, which he held until his
death in 1919, and was succeeeded by J. Forsyth. During Mr.
Scholefield's tenure of office the votes by the Legislature were
larger than the early days, and he was able to add over 50,000
volumes. Like his predecessor, he also specialized in books and
other material bearing on the early history of British Columbia and
the Pacific Northwest, and it has been asserted by experts that this
great mass of materials is perhaps ,the finest collection extant insofar
as this region is concerned.
The Library is primarily a reference; institution for the use
and benefit of the Legislative Assembly and Government Departments, but during recess it is thrown open to the public from 9
till 5, with the exception of Saturday, when it is closed at 1 o'clock.
The resources of the Library cover a wide range of subjects
embracing over 177,000 volumes covering all departments of knowledge. In addition to books there are several thousands of pamphlets and unbound material. Of book rarities mention might be
made of the Shakespeariana collection, which includes a copy of
the rare original second Folio of Shakespeare, but as already stated
it is in books and pamphlets relating to the history of British
Columbia and the Pacific Northwest that we have specialized.
So heavy have been the demands for information on points
of legislative interest that it has been found necessary to appoint
a special assistant in order to facilitate (the gathering together and
digesting of documents, papers and other materials dealings with
the experiences of other governments and states with regard to
legislation already in force or about to be introduced.
For several years there has been a steady increase in the
number of people making use of the Library. The total number of
books issued at the enquiry desk during the past year was 48,343
volumes, as compared with 44, 181 in the previous year, an increase of 4,162 volumes. These figures of course do not take into
account the extensive use made of the open shelf collection.
The first Libraries Act in British Columbia was passed in 1891.
It was entitled "The Free Libraries Act" and made provision for
the establishment of a library in any incorporated municipality 40
Pacific Northwest Libraries
upon petition of 100 city electors and the passing of a By-law with
the assent of the electors.
The control of the library was vested in a Board of Management consisting of the Mayor or Reeve, three city councillors and
three appointed by the School Board,or Board of Education.- The
rate not to exceed one half of a mill in the dollar upon assessed
value of all rateable real property.
The foregoing act as will be noted made no provision for starting libraries in the smaller districts because of the want of  an ~\
organization to aid those willing and anxious to undertake such
work, no library commission or organiser.
This defect was remedied by the passing of the Public
Libraries Act in 1919 which provided for the appointment by the
Government of a Public Libraries Commission consisting of three
persons in addition to the Secretary or Organiser, who would
co-operate with Library Associations and Library Boards on matters of administration of Public Libraries and operate a system of
Travelling Libraries for unorganized and sparsely populated districts.
Ten or more persons in any locality in the Province may form
a Public Library Association for the purpose of maintaining a
Public Library in that locality. The municipal By-law can be passed upon petition of 100 electors for population over 5,000, th^
Board to consist of the Mayor and two, four or six other persons
elected and appointed by the Municipal Council and the rate to
be levied to be left to the Council.
From 1898 until the passing of the 1919 Act, the Travelling
Libraries formed a department of the Provincial Library. An
amendment in 1920 to the Provincial or as it was called the
"Legislative Library and Bureau of Statistics Act, 1894", power
was given to the Public Libraries Commission to borrow books
from the Provincial Library in order to supplement their service.
A few years ago regret might have been expressed that the
library movement had not been general, throughout the Province
but with the pasing of theKlatest Act rapid progress has been made
in establishing libraries in the smaller towns and the general improvement may be credited in a large degreee to the activities of
the British Columbia Library Association.
J. Forsyth University of British Columbia Library
MAY 1 4 199POT
f V3


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