Gas City-Mill Township Public Library

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Only a few years short of a century old, the Gas City-Mill Township Public Library has been an indispensable part of the Gas City and other surrounding communities. Finished in 1914, the library has served to the community. During the past years, the library has fit itself to the community to satisfy the locals of Gas City and surrounding areas. People on the library board and the librarians of the library have and will continue to help the people of the Gas City community when in need of assistance at the library. Looking at the construction of the building itself, the shaping of the library, both physically and intellectually, and the employees who have came and gone over the years it has been here provide a better understanding of the history of the Gas City-Mill Township Public Library.

Built during a period of war and poverty, the Gas City-Mill Township Public Library continues to stand on strong ground in Gas City, Indiana. The idea for building the library arose in a letter to Mr. Isaac Cripe, superintendent of Gas City school, dated April 25, 1911, which said that there were, at that point in time, 125 public libraries in Indiana, and recommended that such a building should be built in the Gas City area. In 1912, a request for Carnegie funds was sent to New York to request assistance for building the library in Gas City. The appointment was recorded and stated that John L. Thompson, O. Gordon, S. Alice Jay, Isaac Cripe, Mrs. L. C. Frank, John F. Linn, and Mary B. Swope were the members of the very first library board, to take affect on January 1, 1913, for the Gas City Public Library. The first hurdle in building the library was getting the appropriate funds needed to serve the board with enough money to have the Gas City library built. The Carnegie Corporation agreed to allow $12,500. for the building to be built, on condition that the tax units pledge $1,250.00 yearly for the library to have sufficient care that it needed to stay up. Mr. Hiram Elder, resident of Marion, Indiana, was chosen to plan the project for building the library. Having been started in 1913, the building was finished in October, 1914. The final cost of the library after it was finished in October was listed as $12,934.77.

Modeling of the Gas City-Mill Township Public Library building was done over a long period of time and is reflected off of what the community wants with the building and its connection with the community. New sidewalks were paved around the building soon after the completion of the project. At the September 20, 1916 board meeting, the president of the library board was instructed to buy the winter supply of coal. The committee had to supply a grate for the fireplace. At the November 1917 board meeting, a decision was made to get a loan from the First State Bank to pay for the Ford Book Wagon. Chasis, which were Burke Williams Co., were $345 in Marion, IN. A cab was $50.00 and the book case was $55.00. At the May 31, 1918 board meeting, a decision was made to say that the recorder of the library needed a typewriter. A typewriter was purchased for the library. Also, arrangements were made to photograph and publish the pictures. Cupboards were installed in the basement for storage of periodicals and other things. Many children’s parents in the community wanted the children to be musicians, so Miss Thomas, a music teacher from Marion High School, was authorized to use the piano for lessons. She payed the library to do so; they did not pay her. Many other things were done over the years to improve the building and the likeliness of the people to the library. (Griffith)

People that have worked at the Gas City-Mill Township Public Library deserve great recognition for the things some of them have done. Miss Maud Fields was selected as the library’s first librarian. Her salary was $4.00 per week. Bessie Griffith, a high school student, was the be the library assistant to Miss Fields. In February, 1914, the librarian received an increase in pay to $5.00 weekly. After the March, 1916 meeting, Miss Fields received a leave of absence for personal reasons. Her assistant, Miss Bessie Hoff, was to take over. Miss Madge McClary was hired to replace Miss Bessie Hoff as librarian assistant. These are just a few of the many people that have served in the great Gas City-Mill Township Public Library since it was built. Many others that worked there made many great things happen at the library. (Griffith)

The construction of the building, the molding of the library as a community and its ability to please the community of Gas City, and the employees who have came and gone over the years it has been here have made an impact on the outlook of the history of the Gas City-Mill Township Public Library. Since it was built so long ago, the library has had much time to heal faults in its building and employees.

Works Cited

Griffith, Deloris. A Write-up of the library. 14 March 1994.


Submitted by Eric Martin on January 1, 2004 for Mr. Munn's AP U.S. History class at Marion High School