Robinson Carnegie Public Library

Contributed by Mrs. Vera Carlisle Newlin
Typed by Rita Millis from a history originally done about 1955 - 14 August 2000

The Robinson Public Library was first opened to the public a half century ago. The Library movement was begun early in 1904 when George W. Harper, founder and editor of the Robinson Argus, began a correspondence with Andrew Carnegie to try and get a donation for a library in Robinson. The final letters of this interesting correspondence are on display in the library, loaned by Mr. Harper's heirs. Although Mr. Carnegie thought the population of 1683 (sic) was so small and the Court House so large that a library could be housed in that building, he finally agreed to donate ten thousand dollars for a building if certain conditions were met. One of the conditions was that a site be given and at least the amount of one tenth of the donation be guaranteed annually for the support of the library. In order to get this amount it was decided to make it a township library and so a temporary board of six from town and six from the country was appointed to work out the details. The six from town were: G. W. Harper, chairman; A. H. Jones, J. S. Abbott, C. S. Jones, Ester Walker, and Ed. Baker. The six from the county were J. D. Trimble, J. S. Kirk, M.D., Eaton; G. L. Buchanan, T. F. Taylor and L. B. Griswold. April 6, 1904 at a township election the tax of two mills was voted. The committee at once proceeded to locate a site and adopt plans and specifications and contract the building. September 23, 1904, Mr. Harper received word that the gift of Mr. Carnegie would be paid in sums of two thousand to three thousand on order of the board and certification of the architect, Paul O. Morris of Bloomington. The contract was let December 2, 1904 to Harry Otey, low bidder at seven thousand nine hundred forty dollars. The front and sides were to be Bedford stone and the back concrete blocks. It is interesting to note that there was no insurance carried until 1910, four years later. There were many delays but finally the library was opened to the public for borrowing February 21, 1906. The first librarian was Mona Rutherford who served until 1911 when she resigned and Bess McHatton was employed. Miss McHatton resigned in 1920 and Erma Dunham was employed. She resigned in 1929 and Vera Carlisle was made librarian. Mr. Carnegie later donated (torn page) thousand dollars to fresco the building and finish the basement. In 1923 the Children's Library was moved downstairs where they could have their own private entrance and room. For a number of years the public school kindergarten was held in the library basement.

The members of the first elected board were Dr. T. N. Rafferty, J. S. Abbott, George Walter, G. L. Buchanan, M. D. Eaton and J. S. Kirk. Since that time the following served as Library Board Members:

Dr. I. L. Firebaugh, G. W. Harper (President for 20 years) Dr. C. L. Davis, Mrs. J. C. Maxwell, Mrs. J. B. Crowley, Tom Moore, Dr. F. S. Hamilton, Mrs. J. W. Carlisle, Mrs. Ed. Mattes, E. E. Lindsay, E. O. May, John T. Smith, Vern Littlejohn, Carrol Cox, Metta Cheneweth, E. C. Wesner. The present board is Mrs. Manford Cox, Mrs. A. W. Allen, Mrs. James Wildin, Perry Graves, Richard Firebaugh and L. R. Seligman. The present librarian is Vera Carlisle Newlin and the children's librarian, Virginia Burt.


This page last updated on February 05, 2015.