Moline Public Library
Next to the public schools of Moline as a popular educative agency, is the Carnegie Public Library and reading rooms. Indeed this latter institution, in the design of its founders, is intended to carry up education to a higher plane than that reached by the public schools, and to lead to a broader and more comprehensive intellectual culture. To this end, its plan comprehends not merely a collection of books, newspapers and magazines, but also an art gallery, a place of amusement and social conversation, a collection of rare curiosities and cabinets of natural history and the various sciences. Measures for the establishment of such an institution in the City of Moline were taken in the Summer of 1872, soon after the passage of the law allowing cities and towns to raise money by taxation for library purposes. The mayor, Honorable D. L. Wheelock, on the 21st of September, 1872, appointed the following named persons a board of directors of the Moline Public Library: J. T. Browning, Eugene Lewis, S. H. Velie, J. C. Starr, William H. Russell, H. A. Ainsworth, H. H. Grover and E. Okerberg. Mr. Okerberg declined to serve, and his place was filled by Honorable Charles Atkinson. On the 21st of September, 1872, the board organized by electing the following officers President, J. T. Browning; vice-president, J. T. Starr; secretary and collector, H. H. Grover; executive committee, Merrss. Starr, Velie and Grover; finance committee, Messrs. Browning, Velie and Atkinson. On books in foreign languages, Messrs. Parker, Russell and Ainsworth. On English books, Messrs. Ainsworth, Russell and Lewis. In the Summer of 1872 the City Council appropriated $800. A meeting was called on the 17th of December, and $3,000 were pledged, the ladies organizing into a society and becoming responsible for $500 of the amount. This sum was soon increased to $5,576.24. Rooms were obtained in the post-office building of the Honorable S. W. Wheelock; the first installment of books was purchased, and the library opened to the public January 6, 1873. Mrs. Kate S. Holt was appointed librarian March 29. 1 873. The library found a generous patron in the person of Honorable S. W. Wheelock, whose munificent donation primarily secured a permanent building for the library. Mr. and Mrs. Wheelock contributed $500 toward the original fund of the library. As soon as the plans were completed, they also tendered the board the use of the second floor of the post office building, which was accepted. Mr. Wheelock always manifested great interest in the library, and planned with broad and comprehensive views of its usefulness. On the 10th of March, 1877, he passed over to the board a deed of the post office building, the erection of which cost upwards of $20,000, and which was occupied until the opening of the new building. The new Carnegie library opened to the public January 26, 1904, was erected at a cost of $70,000, of this sum Andrew Carnegie contributed $37,000. The business Men’s Association of Moline constituted the most potent factor in securing this sum from the iron master. At first Mr. Carnegie denied the requests for his aid in erecting a library, but after a time, the matter was again urged upon him by W. A. Jones, who succeeded in his quest, and August 31, 1901, Moline was given notice that Mr. Carnegie had acquiesced, and would donate $37,000. In response to a second request that the contribution be made $50,000 instead of $37,000, Mr. Carnegie raised the sum to $40,000. September 4. 1901, the library board accepted Mr. Carnenegie’s gift, and it was endorsed by the City Council. November 8, 1901, the following were elected a building committee: C. A. Barnard, L. D. Dunn, Honorable W. A. Meese, O. F. Anderson, R. C. J. Meyers. December 3, 1901, the Velie property, corner of Seventeenth Street and Fifth Avenue, was purchased for $10,000. As the $40,000 was contributed solely for building purposes the library board decided to solicit public subscriptions to purchase the site, and on the 16th of December twelve $500 subscriptions had been secured, with other moneys, amounting in all to about $13,000. The corner stone was laid May 2, 1903, and the public exhibiting an exceptional interest and enthusiasm in the progress of the building the library board again appealed for public subscription, to the amount of $5,500, appending to their request an itemized statement of the finances of the library. As the time elapsed more money was received by subscriptions and donations, until the sum amounted to $70,000. December 23, 1903, two bronze memorial tablets were placed in the hallway of the building. They were about two by three feet. The one on the right on entering the library reads: “This building is the gift of Andrew Carnegie. Its furnishings were presented by the citizens of Moline. F. F. Borgolte, Architect.” The one on the left reads: “Board of Directors, 1903-C. A. Barnard, President; O. F. Anderson, vice-president; H. S. Hanson, secretary; W. A. Meese, R. C. J. Meyers, L. D. Dunn, M. J. McEniry, G. W. Vinton, W. J. Davis, J. B. Oakleaf. The building is built of vitrified brick, trimmed with Bedford Blue Stone. It contains 17,000 bound volumes, is equipped with every up-to-date appliance, and is tastily and conviently arranged. The present board of directors comprise: Harry Ainsworth, president; W. R. Moore, vice-president; Dr. E. A. Edlen, secretary; directors, H. F. Vierich, Louis H. R. Karwath, Robert W. Rank, Frank Herbst, Dr. E. A. Edlen, W. R. Moore, H. A. Ainsworth and Edward Coryn. The librarian is Miss Minnie Kohler; assistants, Miss Hattie Skogh and Miss Lilian Owen. The library is open from 9 A. M. to 9 P. M. on week days, and from 2 P. M. to 6 P. M. on Sundays. The board of directors meets the first Tuesday of each month.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908