from the Archives

While digging around in the archives today I stumbled on a catalog for the library from 1875 (way before Evergreen!).  The cover reads “(No. 2.) Catalogue of the Public School Library of Grand Rapids, Michigan.”  You may wonder why it’s called the Public School Library.  A free public library for the general public was formed in 1871.  Before this, there were several small libraries with limited public use at two of the schools in town, a library with the Ladies Library Association (later called Ladies Literary Club), and one with the YMCA.  On November 13, 1871, the three libraries merged to form what is today called the Grand Rapids Public Library.  However, in the early years it was governed by the Grand Rapids Board of Education, hence the name Public School Library.  A look at this early catalog gives us a unique glimpse at at the library’s early collection.  Some titles of note:  The Nimrod of the Sea: An Account of American Whale-Fishing by Davis;  A Year in China, with an Account of our Capture by the Rebel Pirate Florida on our Return to America by Mrs. Williams;  Suburban Home-Grounds by F. J. Scott (I had no idea there were suburbs in the 1870’s);  Instructions for Collecting and Preserving Bird’s Nests and Eggs by Anon.; The Mystery of Metropolisville by Edward Eggleston; and many more.  For more info on the history of GRPL, checkout A Free Library for Everyone by Gordon Olson.

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