1897 – 1935

The library’s beginnings were about 1897 when Dr. George M. MacGregor, a physician and Superintendent of schools, put a bookcase in the post office and moved some school library books there for public use. The books were locked up except for certain hours on Saturday which was known as “circulation day.” The meager stock of books was augmented by an appeal to the public for reading material; in this way, additional volumes and used magazines were added.

A library board of directors was formed in 1902 with Dr. MacGregor as president and his wife, Charlotte, as unpaid librarian. Other board members were pioneer professionals and merchants who were interested in the cultural aspects of this growing community. In short order, $300 was raised for establishment of a library, $200 of which was appropriated for the annual maintenance of it. Miss Cornelia Marvin, state Library Commission organizer, came to the December, 1902 board meeting to give help and advice. Three dusty rooms in the back of the old city building were decided on for the fledgling library; with much work at renovation, suitable accommodations were made. The first librarian was Charlotte MacGregor who was paid $20 for the period from December, 1903 to July, 1904. One day a week was circulation day and the janitor was allowed 25 cents for cleaning. Subsequent librarians were Irma Hebard, Nellie Lee, Grace Allen, Jennie Lovejoy and Amy Humphrey. Salaries had climbed from $40.00 a year to $288 by 1911, but often there was no 25 cents for a janitor so there is a history of board members doing the work.

In 1912, Mabel Farrington became librarian and stayed at the post until 1935. Throughout those years, she carried in the firewood that heated the rooms in the winter, built the fire and on cold days sat bundled behind the desk with her feet on a warm soapstone. Her dedication to the library resulted in a circulation increase from 1000 books a year when she began to nearly 2000 a month by 1921. As the city and its budget grew, Miss Farrington and the board members worked hard to make sure the library had a proportional share. The vision of Mabel Farrington and the board always was for ever larger quarters and inventory. This was realized in a small way in 1930 when the jail was moved from the city building to the new pump house on East Main Street, and the library expanded into the vacated space. The hope for a new library was realized because of the depression; in 1935, Federal money became available for W.P.A. projects and the City of Mondovi received a grant for a new city building contingent on the inclusion of new library facilities. After 23 years of hard work and expectations, Miss Farrington’s dream began to take shape. But, reminiscent of Moses, she did not live to see the culmination of her work. Several months before the completion of the building, she was in a car accident while on vacation and died of the injuries. The present library was dedicated with many thanks to her and all the others who worded to make it possible