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The 1938 Book Drive Collection

Notebook in which are lists of the first books donated to the library
On cold and rainy December evening in 1937, the Hennessey branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) met in the home of Burla Snyder and, after the meeting, lamented that Hennessey did not have a public library. Dr. Violet Sturgeon, club president, commented on how much the children were enjoying the few books she kept in her waiting room. The ladies decided to gather more books for the waiting-room library. The results went far beyond the simple concept originated that night.

Tuesday, March 29th, the newly formed Hennessey Library Association began the book drive that would surprise everyone, both at the community and state level, with its success. A benefit matinee was held at the Ortman Theatre, and downtown merchants gave away haircuts, lunches, shoe repair, quarts of oil, and other items in exchange for a book. On that first day, 361 books were collected. Before summer, 1,300 books were collected. A space was provided in the remodeled town hall, and Hennessey had a library.

List of some of the books originally donated to the library Mrs. Hutoka Ortman was a meticulous record keeper, and the library has her notebook listing donors and books donated. From that list, we have located 112 of the books original to the library and placed them in a special display bookscase in the Snyder Center. It is a tribute to the careful husbandry of the librarians who have served Hennessey that so many of the books have survived in good condition.

In reading the history of those first books collected and repaired under the direction of WPA librarians, we discovered that most of them were repaired in the classrooms under the stage of the 1928 high school building, the building which is now home to the library.

They have come full circle.