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FOSTORIA'S FIRST LIBRARY BUILT 1892
Thursday May 28, 1981

 


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#1 - Ruth Brenner was librarian for 19 years

Pix #2 - McClean Public Library 1914-1967

Pix #3 - Fostoria's first library in the original Foster Block at Main and Tiffin Streets.

Pix #4 - Louisa McClean

Pix #5 - Annie Foster and Jessie Foster Myers

Kaubisch Memorial Public Library is one of Fostoria's finest public institutions. As such, it offers and provides service of inestimable value to the residents of Fostoria and the surrounding area.

Twenty-five years have passed since the story about Fostoria's public library system, and how it came into existence was published. In that time-span the library has been rebuilt and expanded and named after its latest benefactor, Arthur Kaubisch.

So, its time to revise and update the information about the library, so that the younger generation and newcomers to town will have this valuable and historical data, and thus appreciate the heritage which is theirs today.

THE FIRST LIBRARY

The McClean Public Library, as it was known until 1967, was the outgrowth of the interest, efforts and contributions of civic minded individuals and groups in Fostoria who saw the need for a public library.

Its origin goes back too the Alumni Association of the Fostoria High School, at a time when Dr. and Mrs. Park Myers were the leaders in organizing a group create the first library. Mrs. Myers was Jessie Foster, of the pioneer family in Fostoria, her father being Gov. Charles Foster. It was initially called The Fostoria Alumni Public Library, and was opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1892, in a suite of rooms on the second floor of the first Foster Block at 107 1/2 W. Tiffin St. The arrow shows the exact location in the photo.

To verify the location of that first library, I conferred with Edna Hatfield. She recalls very vividly climbing the stairs to visit the library when she was young to borrow books. She also recalls that her membership for the library was $1 per year.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars once had headquarters there in more recent years with a bar on the first floor. Earlier, the first floor room was used by various commercial establishments.

REORGANIZED 1900

On December 10, 1900, the group which started the first library, re-organized was The Fostoria Public Library Association and incorporated, enabling it to obtain appropriations from city funds. The incorporators were Mary Caples Brown, Ella Ickes Robbins, Charles A. Strauch, H.O. Tremaine, Mahlon M. Carr, Dr. T.T. Rosendale, Mrs. M.C. Briggs, Mrs. John C. Davis, Mrs. Nicholas Portz Mrs. P.M. Hendershott - all prominent citizens in Fostoria at that time. Although the new corporation was private, it was organized for public purpose which entitled it to receive financial support from the city, according to state law.

An annual appropriation of $900 was granted by the city. The resources of the Fostoria Alumni Library were turned over to the new corporation, and through purchases and gifts the new library boasted 4,246 volumes.

The library continued at the West Tiffin Street location, having free rent through the generosity of Charles Foster, as long as he owned the building.

THIRD HISTORICAL EPOCH

In 1910, Louisa McClean, one of the stockholders and trustees for the original library group, passed away. Her will provided that the residue of her estate should be entrusted to the proper city officials to be invested in a public library. Settlement of the will bequeathed to the city $21,343.42 with a separate amount of $2,000 for the McClean Public Fountain.

Mayor J.R. Bradner, in conformity with law and the will, appointed a board of library trustees as a department of the city government. It consisted of Annie Foster, Dr. R.W. Hale, Jeannette C. Ash, Roscoe Carle, Clarence W. Latshaw, Nellie Bevard. The will dictated that David Cole, Frank Lindsey and attorney John Bender be named as trustees of the McClean Library fund. John Bender, another attorney who practiced here in more recent years, now living in Florida.

Eventually, the trustees acting on the advice of the library board purchased at a cost of $10,000 the tract of land bounded by Perry, Fremont, and Wood Streets for the sire of the new building.

McLaughlin and Hulskin were the archiechts and local contractors were M.C. Daub and Howard Kimes for the new building.

On March 16, 1914, the Fostoria Library Association surrendered its charter and turned its resources over the City Library Board of Trustees for the McClean Public Library.

The new library was completed and opened to the public in October 1914. One month earlier, the Fostoria Board of Education turned over to the new library approximately 400 volumes from its library.

YEARS OF SERVICE

Fostoria's McClean Library, a fine institution for that era, served the city for 53 years.

The first librarian, Annie Foster, daughter of Gov. Charles Foster, was a member of the original City Board of Library Trustees. She served in that capacity without renumberation from March 1914 until March 1917 at the time of her death.

Ella Ickes Robbins, who had served as librarian for the Fostoria Alumni Society Library, and later for th Fostoria Public Library Association, was appointed assistant librarian at the death of Annie Foster, holding that position until retirement in 1939.

Elizabeth Hausman succeeded Robbins from 1939 to 1944. Then followed Louise Dunford from 1944 to 1951, at which time she died.

Ruth M. Brenner, was appointed librarian in 1951, and held that position officially until 1970, but continued for several months after the appointment of Dan McGinnis to complete some of her unfinished business.

Mrs. Brenner, previous to her appointment as librarian, here and already served on the Toledo Library staff for two years, then 10 1/2 years at the Rossford, Ohio Library. She brought to McClean Library much expertise as a librarian, and helped guide it through the period leading up to the building and facilities expansion and the institution Fostoria now has. Her services extended over a period of nearly 32 years.

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