History

The Odessa Public Library was envisioned by a group of twelve women who called themselves "The Readers' Club". On February 29, 1939, at a regular meeting of the Readers' Club plans were made and committees appointed. The ladies then met with the Town Council and outlined their plan. The council agreed to let them use an upstairs room, rent free, in the city hall. At night this room would still be used for police court, but during the day it could be used as a library.

Readers' Club gave of their private libraries as a nucleus, but this wasn't enough. Letters were then sent to fraternal social and church organizations asking for cash donations. The response was generous. Not only money was given, but books were donated. The Lion's Club gave a subscription to the Book-of-the-Month Club.

Lumber was purchased and two book shelves were made by the high school manual training class. These were fancy shelves with doors to keep the books clean. Then, on Feburary 3, 1940, the library was opened for business. The combined furnishings for the police court and the library consisted of two books shelves, one large table, one roll top desk, a coal burning stove and one spitoon.

There wasn't enough money to hire a librarian, so each member of the Readers' Club took her turn. The library board was appointed by the Town Council, with three members from Readers' Club, Mrs. Lloyd Williams, Mr. L.J. Bonney and Mrs. C.C. Heimbigner and two members from the community, Mrs. George Schiewe and Mrs. L.C. Weik.

In December 1940, the council voted to establish and maintain a free library, and submitted the question to the voters of Odessa. The question passed by a vote of 96 to 10. This enabled the council to hire the first librarian, Dorothy Gies, (Mrs. R.L. Tanck), who was paid $5 a month. She recalls with humor the interest that was shown in the Odessa library during the war by the F.B.I., when pretty close track was kept of the residents of this Russian-German community.

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Made possible with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
through the Washington State Library, Office of the Secretary of State.