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Lodi Library celebrates 100 years of serving the community

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Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2010 12:00 am

On Feb. 12, Carnegie Forum will be decorated with American flags and a picture of Abraham Lincoln to celebrate the former library's 100th birthday.

The building was dedicated as the library in 1910 on the same day as Lincoln's birthday, which explains the former president's face being included in the dedication.

Before it had an actual library building, Lodi had a reading room that a person could rent for free to look at books, said Ralph Lea, a local historian.

"It was to get the kids out of the pool hall," Lea said. "I don't think it worked." Around the turn of the century, a group of people started petitioning for money from Andrew Carnegie, who was making donations to construct libraries throughout the country. He required that there was someone who would be responsible for the money.

Two of the factors that helped lead to the Carnegie donation were the city's incorporation in 1906 and the Rev. W.P. Grant's decision to step forward. He was the first library board president and led the effort to construct a building.

The Board of Trustees, which is the equivalent of the today's City Council, established the library on Feb. 25, 1907, after receiving 157 signatures from residents. Because there was no money to construct an actual building or run a library, Rev. Grant assembled 10 people who pledged a total of $109.90 to run the library from March to December 1907.

The city then received $9,000 from Carnegie for the $10,000 project to construct the library. At the dedication ceremony, Feb. 12, 1910, Library Services Director Nancy Martinez said it was a family affair because baby strollers are visible in the pictures.

Martinez said about half of the Carnegie libraries have been bulldozed, and very few have remained libraries.

"The library community really appreciates that that building is still being used," she said.

Besides the decorations at Carnegie Forum, residents can receive a commemorative library card for free at the library while supplies last. Martinez said they made them for the anniversary of the library's founding in 2007, but still had some left over.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com or read her blog at www.lodi-news.com/blogs/citybuzz.

Fun facts about the library

— 171,545 items are in the library's collection.

— About 300,000 items, which includes books, CDs, DVDs, and other items, are checked out every year.

— When you see your librarians on the street, they are not eyeing you suspiciously about those overdue books.

"I don't know or care," Library Services Director Nancy Martinez said.

She said the librarians just want to see the books returned. Even librarians are sometimes overdue.

"We are the worst culprits," she said.

— Book drops sometimes receive interesting items. In other cities, there have been snow, bombs and ice cream cones.

In Lodi, there was a Lodi High School student who took some type of paging or walkie talkie device, Martinez said. The school asked simply for its return, no questions asked. The student decided the library book drop would be the perfect place to return it.

Three things you might have missed in the current library

— John Muir's autograph: The library has several autographed books from John Muir. Celia Crocker Thompson donated the books to the library. She knew John Muir when she grew up at Crocker Station, which was a stagecoach stop in Yosemite Valley. She moved to Lodi with her husband, Henry Thompson, who was a library trustee for 50 years.

Celia Crocker Thompson donated books Muir signed for both her and her mother, and a book Galen Clark wrote and signed called "Indians of the Yosemite."

The Muir books include "The Mountains of California and Our National Parks," which is autographed "To Miss Celia Crocker with best wishes — John Muir."

She also donated family photos that included Muir. The library has been looking for a home for the historic pieces in a museum, Martinez said.

— Lodi, the horse: There are many legends about how Lodi received its name, Martinez said. One of them involves a painting of a racehorse named Lodi that hangs high on one of the walls in the library. Both the artist and date are unknown.

— Old microfilm: The library has microfilm records of several newspapers and magazines. The library has the Lodi News-Sentinel since July 1881, Time since 1923, U.S. News and World Report since May 1933, Life since 1950 and Newsweek since 1933.

Five ways the library has changed over the years

1. Technology replacing technology: As technology has increased, the library has had to constantly be updating material. For example, records to eight-tracks to cassettes to CDs to DVDs to digital. As technology has changed, they have had to get rid of old items to make room. Librarian Sandy Smith said people still ask for records, but the library does not have them anymore.

"The only thing that lasts is if it is set in stone," Supervising Librarian Andrea Woodruff said.

2. Card catalogs, no more: Librarians no longer have to spend at least an hour in the morning filing cards into the catalogs. Every time a book was returned, they had to replace five cards for the books based on author, title, usually three subject headings, and a master card for each book.

The work decreased when librarians could type the cards on a typewriter and no longer had to write them. Then, with the introduction of computers, they were nixed completely.

And where did those big card catalog cabinets go? Most were sold as surplus, and some found a home in the Public Works department, Martinez said. They use them to store a variety of nuts, bolts, screws and other small items.

3. More intellectual freedom: While intellectual freedom has always been a cornerstone of the library, it has grown throughout the years. The collection is much more diverse and must carry topics on a variety of subjects.

4. No longer knowing what your neighbor reads: Gone are the days of looking in a library book and seeing who in the community has read it previously. The record of what people check out is highly guarded and requires a court order, Martinez said.

The self-check out machines add another layer of privacy because people can check out books without ever interacting with a librarian.

5. Not a stuffy, silent place: To be clear, the library is still a quieter than your local coffee shop. But it is also a meeting place where people can gather for events or study in groups. The children's area allows kids to read out loud to their brothers or sisters while sitting on cushy book-shaped furniture.

"We have to give them some reason to come," Woodruff said.

A letter from Carnegie

On Dec. 19, 1907, Andrew Carnegie's secretary wrote to the Rev. W.P. Grant, who was working to construct the library:

Dear Sir,

Responding to your communications on behalf of Lodi. If the city agrees by resolution of Council to maintain a Free Public Library at a cost of not less than Nine Hundred Dollars a year, and provides a suitable site for the building, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to give Nine Thousand Dollars to erect a free Public Library Building for Lodi.

Respectfully yours,

P. Secretary

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1 comment:

  • posted at 7:35 am on Mon, Feb 8, 2010.


    Dude thinks it is sad that in a few years there will no longer be any Public Libraries....the electronic age has made them as obsolete as printed newspapers and magazines....



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