History of the Library


Award granted to the Roanoke Public Library in 1979 for being "Library of the Year" by the Indiana State Library

In the early part of 1910 the need for a library became apparent. Several prominent women from the community of Roanoke decided to take the initial steps towards forming the first library. They began by composing a committee from various women's organizations in Roanoke. An invitation was issued to all women of the town who were interested in this project and as a result thirty-one names were secured for charter membership. Florence DeLong, Chairman Pro-Tem, appointed a committee of five to draft a constitution and by-laws and on February 5, 1910 the idea of a library for the town of Roanoke became a reality.

in the beginning, the method used to obtain books was a "gift day". The first such day was held in March, 1910 and netted forty-two books. The only other means of support was the Library Club's annual dues of one dollar per member and gifts from generous Roanoke merchants. Lecture courses, suppers and bake sales were also used to raise money.

The original home of the Library Club was a rented room upstairs in the E.E. Richards building on North Main Street. Rent was four dollars a month and Mr. Richards donated the electricity.

The Library Club, in the following years, occupied rooms in the Wasmuth, Grimm, I.O.O.F., and S. B. Dinius buildings as well as Roanoke State Bank when it was located on the corner of Second and Main Street. During the early fifties the Board of Trustees of Roanoke constructed an addition to the fire station located on Third Street to house the town hall and library.

In November of 1920 after the selection of a seven member board of trustees, the Library Club was turned over to the town of Roanoke. Original board members were: Mr. D. A. Wasmuth, Arden McCoy, Mrs. Faye Davidson, Miss Mino DeLong, Mrs. Addie Koontz, Mrs. Cora Wilson and Mr. L.D. Ward.

Funding for the now public library came from taxes paid by the residents of Roanoke. The first budget approved was for five hundred twenty eight dollars and an annual fee of one dollar per year was assessed township residents for use of the library.

The first librarian appointed was Mrs. Faye Davidson. She was paid a salary of twelve dollars a month. Her successors included Miss Mino Delong, Elizabeth DeLong and Edith Glock. Mildred Winchester became the first certified librarian of the Roanoke Public Library. Wilma Pence was appointed librarian after Mildred's retirement and served in that position until it became mandetory to hire a certified librarian. Joan Hile agreed to become certified and was hired on August 1, 1973. She was Director of the Roanoke Public Library until her retirement on December 31, 1997.

In September of 1975, bonds were issued by the Roanoke Town Board to purchase a building that would provide updated facilities for the fire department, town marshal, town hall, clerk treasurer and the library.

The winter of 1978-79 saw many hours of volunteer labor by the library trustees' families and friends who donated their time to paint wall and stain book stacks.

Eight thousand volumes were moved from the Third Street to its present home on Main Street in April of 1979. The same year the library was awarded the 1979 Library of the year award from the Indiana State Library.

The Friends of the Roanoke Public Library was organized to assist with fund-raising projects for the benefits of the library. They support such programs as the summer reading program. Through their many fund-raisers, they were able to purchase a new copier, magazine rack and additional book stacks.

In the late 80's and early 90's the library became computerized. The first computer was purchased with assistance from the Friend of the Roanoke Public Library. Grants were written by Denis Wilson and Joan Hile to secure three additional computers and a fax machine. One of the grants allowed the library to convert the Roanoke newspapers to CDs for preservation. Also, it is now possible to put the card catalog on computer.

Because of the dedication of the librarians and trustees, past and present; countless individuals and businesses; the commitment of the community to its people, young and old, is reflected in the Roanoke Public Library.

This was written by Joan Hile, Retired Roanoke Public Librarian who granted permission for this to be reprinted here on March 25, 2008.

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