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Tuesday Evening Club

March 2, 2001

On December 6, 1906, the Salida Mail published a list of new books expected to arrive at the public library that very week. You can see this list on display in the library lobby as part of a celebration of the joint history of the Tuesday Evening Club and the public library, courtesy of Judy Micklich and the T.E.C.

Judy Micklich, longtime volunteer/administrator of the Salida Museum, dug through museum, library, and Tuesday Evening Club archives for several months with the help of her son Shawn and put together a history of the club for its centennial celebration.

A big part of that history includes the library and is documented in the display panels. The Tuesday Evening Club started the first public library in Salida and was instrumental in getting a Carnegie grant to build the library at 4th and E Streets.

As for the books mentioned above, none are still with us. We have “The Call of the Wild” and “The Sea Wolf” by Jack London, but in newer editions. I wish we still had “How the Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis, which caused a sensation at the time of its publication and brought the misery of tenement life into the news. We’ve ordered a Dover reprint edition.

I smiled to read a 1911 letter from the Tuesday Evening Club to the library board asking that the librarian have authority to loan Reference Books at her discretion. Even ninety years ago, people wanted to take reference books home. As the letter said, “Unless they can be carried home, they are not of much use.”

Procuring the building lots was a challenge, as you can see for yourself in the letters displayed. Even after making the deal, the Salida Library Association wasn’t done. After selling the lots, the previous owners “absolutely refused” to pay the taxes on the property for that year, 1906, and so supplication was made to the City of Salida to forgive and refund those taxes in support of the effort to build the library.

My favorite headline is: “Club women throw first dirt.” I can’t help but picture a circle of hatted ladies with their ceremonial shovels suddenly spinning and flinging dirt into the crowd and starting a melee. To tell the truth, I believe there must have been a few ladies that feisty in the club at the time. We have a particularly well-built Carnegie library, and I’ve always imagined at least one of those hatted ladies peering critically into the construction site and pointing with her folded parasol.

Stereotypes are fun, right down the old library rules. The last one says, “Silence is the rule.” Many wish it still were.

Of course, our tendency to stereotype can prove odious. The formal separation of blacks and whites in our society a century ago can be seen in a letter to the library board. Henry Stroup made application for the position of janitor, and below his signature, in lieu of a title, is typed “Colored.”

You had to be a “respectable resident of the City” and vouched for by a property owner to get a library card. In light of the recent changes in our check-out periods, I might mention that the library at the time had “Eight-day books.” I’m not sure of the rationale, but I like it. It is completely out of sync with our weekly lives. However, I’ll file that one; we’ve made enough changes for now.


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