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The Articles started December 2007.
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Waterman library exudes history
By Barry Schrader.................................May
I had gone to the history center and looked up Metzgers
paper before going to Waterman so I had some background information
when visiting with Radtke.
Visiting the Clinton Township Public Library in Waterman
recently brought back a flood of memories.
mother used to walk me from our East Grant Street homeb
known as the Drake house the two blocks to the library,
where I got the thrill of checking out my first library books.
This was in the late 1940s, and the librarian was Miss Joyce
Greeley, who held that position for 41 years. I also remember
her sister, Clara Greeley, who was the church organist at Waterman
At the time, I had no idea of
the historical nature of that little Carnegie library. It was
just recently that I got to meet current library Director Nancy
Radtke and learn about its significance. She shared some history
about the library that was researched and published in a paper
by Joan Metzger of the Regional History Center at Northern Illinois
University in 1991.
Library Director Nancy Radtke stands in front of the smallest
Carnegie library in the United States, which is in Waterman. Carnegie
libraries were built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman
and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
In 1902, the Waterman
Womans Club was organized. Early leaders in that club are
well-known local family names, such as the first president Carrie
Fuller, secretary Harriet Brainard and others with the last names
of Roberts, Greeley and Kirkpatrick. By 1904, the club had established
a reading room above the drug store with dues of $1 a year to
help support its purchases.
By the end of 1905,
it took the bold step of writing to Andrew Carnegie, who was
funding libraries all over the country. But that first contact
did not prove fruitful. In 1910, members campaigned for a ballot
initiative, which the township voters passed, and a year later
(exactly 100 years ago) a library board was named. It became
Clinton Township Public Library.
was sent to Carnegie, and after the proper paperwork had been
submitted, club members got the exciting news they would receive
$3,500 to build a library. After three years of work, the new
library opened Dec. 19, 1914. It has two separate distinctions:
Clinton Townships population was the smallest ever to receive
a Carnegie grant, and the building is the smallest Carnegie library
ever built, totaling 2,250 square feet of interior space on two
It has not only served the community as
a source of reading material but twice its lower floor housed
classes from the local school, once because of overcrowding in
1915 and again in 1929 when the Waterman school burned.
building now houses a collection of some 15,855 volumes and 65
periodicals. It boasts 771 card-carrying patrons, and Radtke
reports circulating some 20,000 items in the past year. Helping
her share the workload are three part-time assistants
Pam Rice, Janet Miller and Susan Booker.
up with the latest technology, the library has five computer
stations, a laptop computer for public use and an online database,
replacing the old card catalog files. Radtke also revealed it
is on a shared libraries website where patrons can download e-books
and audio books at no extra charge.
I noted some
artifacts that are worth seeing if you like antiques. Two grandfather
clocks still keep time on the two floors, plus three early American
spinning wheels are displayed on the upper floor. Radtke said
it is a mystery to her when they were donated or where they came
from. If anyone can help her solve that puzzle, she welcomes
In the downstairs childrens reading
room, you will find a large flat-panel monitor with a nice variety
of videos and games to keep the younger population engaged. My
final look at the basement was the genealogy section where my
ancestors and many other Waterman family trees are available
to peruse. Something that really caught my eye were 20 large
scrapbooks kept by all the past and present librarians with news
clippings and other material relevant to the Waterman area. What
a boon for future researchers of local history.
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DeKalb, Ill 60115