Monday, October 17, 2016

Mary Louisa Mitchell Binckley, First Librarian in Santa Rosa, California, 1884

[Sonoma Democrat, Number 37, June 28, 1884]: 

Library Trustees
The Board of Library Trustees met at the City Hall on Friday at 4 p.m. The Committee appointed to communicate with other libraries, reported, presenting copies of rules and regulations from San Francisco and Petaluma. A committee consisting of Messrs Dozier and Riley was appointed to draw up rules and regulations for the government of this library, to report at the next meeting of the Board. The Secretary was instructed to report to the City Council on or before the first Monday in July, setting forth the financial condition of the Library. Upon motion, Messrs. Thompson, McDonald and Johnson were appointed a standing Committee on Literature, to whom shall be assigned the duty of purchasing books, papers and periodicals. A Ways and Means Committee, consisting of Messrs. Dozier, Johnson and Riley, was appointed. On motion, Messrs. Thompson and Dozier were appointed to secure a seal for the Library. Mrs. Binckley was elected Librarian, at a salary of $25 per month, subject to ratification by the City Council, as to the salary, to enter upon the duties July 1st. M. L. McDonald is President, and M. Dozier Secretary of the Library. The Board adjourned to 7:30 p. m., the first Tuesday in July.

[Sonoma Democrat, Number 39, July 12, 1884]: 

Common Council 
A resolution from the Library Trustees, appointing Mrs. Binckley as Librarian, at a salary of $25 per month, subject to confirmation by the Council, was read. Some objection was made to the amount of the salary, and the number of hours not being stated, it was taken under consideration until the next meeting. 

[Sonoma Democrat, Number 40, July 19, 1884]:

Our Public Library
The books of the old Santa Rosa Library Association are now arranged on the shelves of the rooms of the Public Library at the City Hall, and Mrs. Binckley the Librarian, will be found at her post every day, except Sundays, from 2 to 5 p. m., and 7:30 to 9:30 p. m. For the present, no books can be taken from the Library, but in a few days the rules and regulations will be adopted, and then they will be at the service of all who desire to use them. The rooms are neatly furnished, and will make an excellent place of resort.

[Sonoma Democrat, Number 44, August 16, 1884]:

Our Public Library
Although our Free Public Library has only been in operation two weeks, the rooms are thronged nightly, and the need of such an institution in our midst is plainly demonstrated. On Saturday the loan of books had been in operation two weeks, and about a hundred volumes had been taken out and read, besides the numbers who have visited the rooms to spend some time examining books of reference and perusing the periodicals which fill the table in the main room. 

No funds have been expended in the purchase of books, all that has been spent has been applied to the fitting up of the rooms. They are a credit to our city, and when provision is made for obtaining a supply of books, the usefulness of the institution will be much more than doubled. Everything about the library is absolutely free, the only requirement asked of those who desire the use of books, is that, they prove themselves responsible for the volumes they take away. 

Mrs. Binckley, the Librarian is just qualified for the position, being well read and familiar with the writings of most of the standard authors. Call and visit our Public Library at the City Hall.

[Mary Louisa Mitchell/Mitchell Binckley (1838-1930)
$25 in 1884 = about $600 in 2016
Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California, had a population nearing 5,000 at the time; in 2016, it is closer to 175,000]

Many thanks to Katherine J. Rinehart, M.A., Manager, History & Genealogy, Sonoma County Library, 211 E Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95404 for help with initial local research, the California Digital Newspaper Collection project, and also 
William Myers, Mary Davy and Sally Young for their assistance.  

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