Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Monday, February 15, 2010

Moline Public Library

Moline was the first city to name its library
after the benefactor, Carnegie.

Moline invested in a library early in its history, but the old Carnegie library was not the first. Moline was founded in 1848 and incorporated in 1872. Soon after incorporation, Moline passed a library tax and established one of the first libraries in the state at 310 15th Street.

In 1901, W. A. Jones of the Moline Daily News wrote a letter to steel baron Andrew Carnegie, asking for funds for a new library. The first one was overcrowded and forced people to cross railroad tracks for their reading.

Moline was turned down by Carnegie but later received $40,000 from him toward the new library. Our library was the first to have Carnegie's name engraved above the entrance.

I remember being dropped off at the library, where I spent many hours. Downtown Moline was good for many things - the library, Fannie Mae candy, Dr. Paschall's office, and the library.

The basement was reserved for the children's library. As I recall, it was paved with that sheet linoleum so popular in public buildings at the time. The linoleum--and the cleaning compound used--gave those floors a distinctive aroma: practical, easy to maintain. No one worried about a child getting sick or having lower GI problems on that flooring.

The library was magical, from the massive Carnegie entrance to the stereo viewers in boxes. As we grew older, the Carnegie named became associated with history and we were part of that history, if only in a minor way. The Homestead Strike helped pay for the bank-like building where I spent so many mornings.

The stereo viewers were great fun, even if they were only in black and white. A metal frame allowed stiff, curved double-photographs to be mounted in the viewer, where everything took on a 3-D appearance. We had some at home and at Garfield. The cards now sell for $50 and $75. Like the Mickey Mouse watches we made fun of, those cards should have been kept in a safety deposit box for our retirement fund.

I went through the library collection and read every book I could. The most fun was the Freddy the Pig stories, which are being revived to some extent. I read them to our son.

The collections of classic fairy tales were easy to keep track of, by color. I took out each color and read them all.

I loved the Heinlein science fiction books, reading every one.

Later, when my mother wanted to keep me busy during her art classes, she dropped me off at a nearby public library. I found out how much fun it was to go through old magazines. If Life magazine was interesting at home, it was even more so for the WWII years, and the Great Depression. The Depression had to be great, because my parents never stopped talking about it.

New libraries, like new bookstores, lack the fascination of the old.

This stereo photo viewer would have been a better investment
than Enron was.