GENEVA LIBRARY ASSOCIATION — DURING THE 1920's
One of the most active of Geneva civic groups were the ladies that made up the Geneva Library Association. The Geneva Public Library was in fact not public, since it was not supported by any tax money. Many of the books in the library's holdings were there due to donation. The books that were bought came from money raised from subscriptions of $l.00 per year. If you were a subscriber to the library, you were able to take out a certain number of books free. Books over your limit or lent to non-subscribers were rented. Books that were overdue would cost the borrower a fine. In addition to selling subscriptions, the Library Association endeavored various projects to make money. The library was open each Friday for the public's use and the only holiday taken by the Librarian was the Friday before Christmas.
During April of 1923, the Library Ladies sponsored a number of events designed to raise money. One of these was the Advertising Bazaar in which local merchants and some from out of town rented booths to display their wares. In conjunction with this bazaar, the ladies served a variety of food at the Cherry Blossom Tea Room. That same week, the ladies had a Boosters Banquet. However, probably one of the most popular of their fetes that April, was the fashion show and the baby clinic. The baby clinic involved the importation of a state health official to measure, weigh and evaluate each child. The children that most closely fit the textbook dimensions were given prizes and their names listed in the Geneva County Reaper.
The Geneva Public Library, which had been organized since 1904, still did not have a permanent home in 1922. During the early part of the 1920's, the books had been kept in a room whose use had been donated by the County Commissioners. But the dream of Mrs. Emma Knox Kenan and her fellow workers was to have a building for the library.
On May 17, 1925, a mass meeting was called at the courthouse for the purpose of discussing the purchase of a lot for the permanent location of the library. The lot that the ladies wanted was on the corner of Church and Commerce Streets, which had been known as the Peterman lot. It could be acquired for 81,000.00. The various fund-raising activities of the ladies had resulted in their having almost enough money to buy the lot. Donations from various businessmen finished the needed amount. However, before the lot was purchased, a couple of Geneva merchants offered the ladies a free store building downtown. Despite much criticism, the ladies refused, stating that they wanted the Library to be in prime location and the lot desired was the best since it would be passed by most people and it was the dividing line between the commercial and residential sections of Geneva.
Public comments about the ladies' lot did not altogether stop. When rumor got out that the Gulf Refinery was interested in purchasing the lot for almost 33,000.00, the Library Association was once again criticized. It was during 1925, that the Library was moved to a room in the Battery Club house. Work continued by the ladies to raise money for the building fund. A bazaar selling handmade items was held and each Friday, during the warm months, homemade ice cream could be purchased.
Text from The Geneva Women's Club - History of Geneva (page 96)