On this date in 1908, the Dickinson Press announced that plans for a Carnegie library were moving forward. It would not be long before Dickinson would be blessed with a fine library – a worthy addition for the growing town.
The library board consisted of five men. Anxious to build Dickinson into a cultured and thriving community, they had applied to the Carnegie Foundation, originally seeking $15,000, but upon further reflection, reduced the request to $12,500. That same year the residents of Dickinson had passed a library tax by a vote of 576 to 140.
When the Carnegie Foundation approved the request, the project moved forward at top speed. $10,600 of the funds were set aside for construction. The remainder money was earmarked for the interior furnishings and for books. Joseph DeRemer of Grand Forks accepted the position of architect. Josephine Hargrave was hired as the first librarian at $60 per month.
The Board requested plans for a one-story building. The design would be based on the Carnegie Library in Grafton. Double doors would lead to a vestibule with a cloak room. There would be an adult reading room on the right and a children’s reading room on the left. The semi-circular desk of the librarian was in the rear, where the librarian could look out onto the full interior. The center of the building featured a rotunda. A large and ornate fireplace would provide a cozy feel during the winter. And, of course, there would be wall-to-wall shelves for books. The librarian’s office and a meeting room were located in the basement along with public restrooms and the boiler room.
The library was designed to be stately, but not elaborate. On the exterior, a flight of stairs led to the main doors, which were flanked by two stone pillars. The Dickinson Press article acknowledged that the plans were not as impressive as the Carnegie Library at Grand Forks, but it would be a worthy addition to Dickinson.
The library opened on January 3, 1910, with about 1,000 books. These were donated by the Commercial Club and other community organizations. A 1938 expansion was a project of the Works Progress Administration. Renovations and expansions continued over the years, and in 2008, the library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dakota Datebook by Carole Butcher
Dickinson Press. “Plans Are Accepted.” 13 June 1908. Dickinson ND. Page 1.
Dickinson Library. “History.” http://www.dickinsonlibrary.org/index_files/Page431.html Accessed 17 June 2018.