Library Lovers’ Month

Everybody Wants a Free Public Library, Music and Art, and Can Have Easily a Fine Exhibit of Minerals and Curios; The Cordova Daily Times (Member of the Associated Press) Vol. 7 No. 91; Cordova, Alaska, Tuesday, March 21, 1922; Price Ten Cents
Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 21 March 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

February marks Library Appreciation Month, an appropriate designation given that this project is based out of the Alaska State Library!

Although it’s easy to take public libraries for granted, several news items from the Cordova Daily Times point to the general public’s desire for not only books, but music and art and “a Fine Exhibit of Minerals and Curios” to establish a municipal art museum.

All Seem To Want Library: Proposal Evokes Many Ideas for Good of the Community. All Cordovans seem to want action immediately by the Literacy Club, which meets tomorrow night, toward establishing the nucleus of a free public library. One of the Club members said today the proposal would be given attention. If the Club backs the movement, as expected, donations of books will be in order, likewise paintings for decoration-- as a start for the city's museum of fine arts. A commodious room downtown can be obtained, it is said, well adapted to the purpose. No definite plans have been attempted, this being left for the Literary Club, but it has been suggested that the librarian at first be a volunteer, who would attend and give out books at certain hours, daily. After awhile a regular librarian could be employed and open house be kept continually. Another suggestion is that a phonograph be obtained, together with the best grand opera and other music records, so that musical entertainments could be given in the evenings, free to everybody. The idea is to announce the program of these entertainments in The Times. In this way everybody could have the pleasure of hearing the best music and at the same time look over the book supply. Several prominent citizens already have said they know of many persons who would be glad to donate books for such a purpose; others know where paintings and other works of art might be found, for the asking.
Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 20 March 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Even today with a steadfast Interlibrary Loan system to connect libraries within the state of Alaska, materials can take several weeks to arrive based on the sheer distance needed to travel. Imagine not even having an established collection of books to browse through on cold, dark, winter nights- or having any means of obtaining books.

For many citizens of Cordova, a library represented a cultural outlet missing from their town. A library also represented the comforts of home and a gathering place for friends. The Cordova public school library was the only library in town, and its borrowing privileges were reserved for school children only.

Notice: The Cordova public school library will be open Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. for the children of the school who wish to take out library books. Leona Churchill, Librarian.
Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 13 June 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

This lack of a larger institution is laid bare in this article for an upcoming “tag sale” to benefit the Cordova public school library:

Tag Sale For Library Fund On Saturday: Next Saturday is the annual tag day for the Cordova public school library, when the public will be asked to play a game of tag with the children. In this particular kind of tag game it is proper for the participants to allow themselves to be tagged just as soon and as often as possible. It is to be hoped that everyone plays the game as well as it was played last year. This tag day sale is for the benefit of the school library, which needs to be built up to a higher point of efficiency, since it must serve in a double capacity, due to the fact that Cordova can boast of no public library at present. Some time, not too far away, let us hope, Cordova will have a public library, but until that time is it not wise to increase the scope and general usefulness of our school library, so that it may in a measure stone for the lack of a larger institution? "Have a heart" is in this case a genuine appeal for each to help by buying one of the heart-shaped tags-- no slang intended. Tag! You're it!
Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 19 Feb. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

By 1920, however, the Cordova public school library opened its doors to the general public:

Notice to the Public: As Cordova has no public library, it has been decided to open the school library for general use. Hereafter anyone who cares to take out books will be welcome to do so on Wednesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. Books must be returned the following Wednesday or the borrower will be subject to a fine of 5 cents a day until they are returned. To cover possible loss or damage, a deposit of $1 will be required from those having no connection with the school, the same to be returned at the close of the school year. Our library has grown from 264 volumes to over a thousand in number, and while many of our books are juvenile, there are also many that will interest adults. Alice Daggett will have charge of this branch of the loan work, and borrowers will see her when wishing to borrow or return books.
Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 31 Jan. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Newspapers all throughout Alaska picked up on the public outcry for a library in Cordova and spread the word to readers near and far.

Cordova Wants Museum of Fine Arts and Also a Good Public Library: There is a lively local sentiment in favor of the establishment of a public library in Cordova this year-- at least the beginning of one Rev. Eustance P. Ziegler, in reply to an inquiry, said he believed the people were earnestly desirous of having not only a good public library, together with all the leading magazines, but also a museum of fine arts to which he would be pleased to contribute. It is also believed that Sydney Laurence and other artists would be glad to contribute. Some constructive action along this line many be expected soon. Mr. Ziegler said these questions which probably would be taken up by the Literary Club, through the initiative of one of its live-wire members. A little further inquiry elicited the apparent consensus of opinion that the Alaska Pioneer Spirit, which is very active here, would not favor obtaining a library by endowment, or Carnegie fund, nor by charitable donation of any kind. To the contrary, it was said, the modest beginning could be made this year and additions be provided as fast as means allow. The idea seems to be to keep the city independent in this respect, free from debt and self-reliant.--Cordova Times.
Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 08 April 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.<>

In June of 1925, women’s guild of St. George’s Episcopal Church opened the reading room of the Red Dragon, a historical building, as the very first location of the Cordova Public Library. Books donated by Episcopalian churches throughout the Lower 48 formed the collection- which formed an eclectic mix of titles!

Library in Red Dragon to be Thrown Open to Public: Launching a movement to eventually secure an adequate library for Cordova, The Women's Guild of St. George's Episcopal Church has arranged to throw open to the public the book collection now housed in the Red Dragon. Beginning Saturday the club building will be open from 1 to 7 p.m. and people may call there to read or borrow books. It will continue open between these hours each Wednesday and Saturday. Under the supervision of Mrs. F. A. Hansen and Miss Elsie Waltz, the books have been arranged in alphabetical order and can be readily located on the shelves. About 700 volumes are now in the building, as well as a number which have been borrowed from the Red Dragon in the past. It has been requested that all persons having books from there return them as soon as possible, so that the shelves may not be too rapidly depleted. The books now on hand have been sent here from Episcopalian churches all over the United States. The range of materials is large, for the contributors seem to be in doubt as to just what the taste of Alaskans runs to. In the same book case you may find treaties on "Success with Small fruits," "Intestinal Ills" and "Manhood Wrecked and Rescued." Fiction is relatively scarce, although there are several set including works of George Eliot, Bret Harte and the like. There are recent volumes by Kathleen Norris, Rex Besch, Harold Bell Wright, Booth Tarkington, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Jeffrey Faruol, Ralph Connor, William Allen White, Somerset Maugham and many others. Even the old-time paper-backed novel is there and you may take your choice of "The Fatal Marriage," "'Twas Love's Fault" or "Vivian, the Beauty," the first chapter of which opens with the line: "'He loves me,' murmured Jeanne." Another enticing and much thumbed book is entitled "The Romance of a Poor Young Man." If you have some books you don't know what to do with, the library can find a use for them. An appeal is to be sent out to those in the States who have hitherto contributed, telling how much entertaining books of fiction and on modern progress mean when people live so far from book stores and municipal libraries. A reading table will be arranged with late issues of current magazines. A number of sets of these best magazines, covering twelve month periods are also to be found there. Another book case is devoted to a quantity of juvenile books.
Image credit: From the June 11, 1925 issue of the Cordova Daily Times, Alaska State Library Historical Collections.
More Books Given to Red Dragon Library: With the increasing interest being shown in the library recently opened at the Red Dragon by the Women's Guild of St. George's Church, several books have just been donated by local residents. The gifts are from Mrs. Brady Howard, Mrs. Lew Smith, Mrs. C. P. Mickelson and Mrs. D. F. Cook. Persons who have had volumes from the Red Dragon in their homes for a long time are urgently requested to return them, as the demand for the books is growing constantly and it is also desired that the stray property of the library be cataloged. Among the new fiction recently placed on the shelves are the following: "Scaramouche," by Rafael Sabatini. "The Desert of Wheat," by Zane Grey. "Cap'n Dan's Daughter," by Joseph C. Lincoln. "Back Home," by Irvin S. Cobb. "Galusha the Magnificent," by Joseph C. Lincoln. The library will be open again on Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m.
Image credit: From the June 25, 1925 issue of the Cordova Daily Times, Alaska State Library Historical Collections.

Today, the Cordova Public Library has found a permanent home at the Cordova Center, after having its collection housed in the Adams Building and the Windsor Hotel. We are fortunate to have had this journey toward a free public library documented in the Cordova Daily Times.

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