Thursday, April 26, 2012

Minutiae in MPL Board Minutes Means a Historical Feast

We continue perusing the MPL Board of Trustees meeting minutes through the  mid-1970s to see what historical gems we might discover.

Mildred Forbes, MPL Board Secretary during the time in question, reported (July 1, 1974) that the Library’s summer story times were to be linked to the Old Settlers Picnic/Festival, and local historical bus tours were slated.  These tours were particularly popular and informative, given that Mooresville’s Historian, Wanda Potts, furnished a rich, lively narrative of local history and lore.  (Wanda was MPL Assistant Director and Indiana Room Librarian.)  Community artist and teacher Helen Cook provided watercolor painting classes, and craft classes began on July 5.  Summer reading ended in August, as it usually does still.

Take a look at the MPL online calendar, or click the various hyperlinks in this (and other) paragraphs, to see if you recognize any of the modern counterparts to these popular programs.  Since 2006 the Library has conducted downtown walking and bus driving tours of historic Mooresville sites.  Grace Cole teaches watercolor painting classes now, and Janet Buckley offers basket-weaving classes.  MPL Early Literacy Specialist Jaymi Edwards offers reading programs to preschoolers.  The Library has a booth annually at Old Settlers.  Summer reading remains huge at MPL, as it is at most public libraries.  (See last year's blog posting about the Library's summer reading launch party.)

It was at this same Board meeting (July 1, 1974) that the Library decided, as a public taxing unit, it was subject to the federal minimum wage laws, and, accordingly, the pay scales of the Library’s teenage pages were raised to $1.90/hour as a starting base.  Similarly, Myrtle Keller’s salary was increased to $150/month to comply with minimum wage requirements.  Myrtle worked four days per week as Head of Circulation.

In a previous blog posting, we examined the Library’s early conversations about facility expansion.  A careful reading of the Board minutes (January 6, 1975) disclosed that “discussion on [a] new addition to the Library was tabled until a later meeting" (emphasis added).  This is the earliest record in the Board minutes indicating that new construction was being considered.  Perhaps anticipating the need for fundraising and financial planning for a new addition (or even an entirely new building), the Library created its Board of Finance (January 20, 1975) pursuant to Indiana Acts of 1937.

By early 1975, newspaper storage had outgrown available space, and temporary solutions were introduced until more shelving could be secured.  A February 1978 photo from the Mooresville Times showed that shelf space scarcity was a continuing challenge to Library staff.  Additional shelving throughout the Library was ordered in September 1975, which eased shelf overcrowding for serials and monographs (i.e., magazines and books).  This afforded some breathing space (about three years’ worth) for Library collections.  To save money during 1975, the Library secured new books through gifts twice as often as it purchased them.  It was a donation campaign that garnered huge support from many town residents.

Library shelf space becomes a scarcity by February, 1978,
despite multiple augmentations of shelving

The Board minutes throughout the past century are filled with basic wear-and-tear expenditures—replacing furnaces and other fixtures, worn-out furniture, and structural components—which makes for less than riveting reading.  Still, such minutiae is significant to understanding the Library’s daily operations and conditions.

The 1980s are looming in the Library’s history, at least as far as this blog is concerned, but there are still many fascinating facts to be gleaned from the late 1970s Board minutes.  We’ll consider more of these next time.

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