The Richwood Public Library as we know it was formed on January 26, 1915 with the organization of the first library board. However, you may not know that Richwood did in fact have an association library since 1882. On June 19, 1882, a meeting was called at the Methodist Episcopal Church to discuss the formation of a “library club.” A number of people met and the following minutes of the meeting were furnished by the secretary:
“The Richwood Library Association met to organize. A.J. Blake was called to the chair; P.R. Mills, Secretary. Constitution presented and considered, article by article, and adopted. Rules governing the Librarian were adopted. The Association went into the election of officers, resulting as follows:
President– A.J. Blake, Vice President– Mrs. Lizzie King, Secretary– P.R. Mills, Treasurer– G.B. Hamilton, Librarian– Robert Smith.
P.R. Mills and J.D. Slemmons were appointed a committee to solicit payment of membership fee. On motion, a committee of five was appointed to assist the President in selecting books for the library. Following is the committee: P.R. Mills, A. Watson, J.P. Brookins, J.D. Slemmons, Robert Smith. Adjourned to regular meeting or to call of Secretary.”
The constitution of this Association is as follows:
Article 1. This society shall be known as the Richwood and Vicinity Library Association.
Article 2. The object of the Association shall be to promote the mental and moral culture of its members.
Article 3. Those who have purchased shares in the Richwood Library, or who may hereafter pay the amount of $3 shall become members of the Association.
Article 4. The officers of the Association shall consist of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Librarian, who, together, shall constitute a Board of Managers.
Article 5. It shall be the duty of the Board of Managers to solicit new members, select the books that may be added to the Library, and have general supervision over the business of the Association.
Article 6. The Secretary shall keep a record of the proceedings of each meeting, a list of the names of members, and give due notice of the time and place of holding all meetings.
Article 7. The Librarian shall have charge of the books, and be responsible in caring for the same. He shall keep a separate account with each member drawing books in a register provided for that purpose. He shall collect all fines and enforce strictly the rules of the Association. He shall also, at each meeting, report the number of volumes taken out during the term, and the general condition of the Library.
Article 8. The annual meeting of the Association shall be held on the 1st Friday of September in each year, at which time the officers shall be elected. The semi-annual meetings shall be held on the 1st Friday of March, in each year.
Article 9. On the request of five members, the Secretary shall call special meetings, but the object of such meetings must be stated in a published notice.
Article 10. Ten members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Article 11. The officers shall be elected by ballot, unless otherwise determined by the Association. Members are entitled to one vote for each share they hold.
Article 12. Members may transfer their shares to other parties, by giving notice to the Secretary and Librarian.
Article 13. No alteration or amendment of this Constitution shall be made, except at an annual or semi-annual meeting, and by consent of a majority of the members.
The following rules of the Association include:
- Members are allowed to take from the Library two volumes at a time, for each share they may hold.
- Books may be retained two weeks, and be renewed for the same period.
- No person shall be permitted to lend a Library book to another person not a member of the same household.
- Any member who shall retain a volume longer than the rules permit, shall be fined two cents per day for such unlawful detention.
- All injuries to any book beyond a reasonable wear shall be made good to the satisfaction of the Librarian, by the party liable therefor.
- All books lost or destroyed shall be paid for by the member losing or destroying the same.
- Members shall not be permitted to take books from the Library, or transfer their shares, while any fine against them remains unsettled.
Robert Smith served as Librarian for the Library Association and also served as the chief editor and publisher for the Richwood Gazette. He later served two terms as treasurer for Richwood and two terms as treasurer of Union county. Afterward, he purchased the Marion Transcript newspaper, which changed its name to the Marion Republican. After about a year, he sold the Marion Republican and bought the LaRue News which he edited for about a year before moving back to Richwood and engaged in the fire insurance business. His health became an issue which prompted him to quit this business and served as a rural mail carrier on route 5 out of Richwood. He was married to Miss Minnie Beem on Thanksgiving Day in 1884 until Thanksgiving of 1907 when Minnie passed away due to breast cancer. After her death, he always seemed to be exceedingly sad and rarely left his residence. He devoted most of his time taking care of his sister who stayed with him. Mr. Smith had suffered a stroke of paralysis and passed away on September 12, 1909 at 55 years of age.
Reportedly eighty people had subscribed to the Association at one point. A membership fee of $3.00 was required to join; of which amount $2.50 was expended for the purchase of new books and book cases, and the additional 50 cents allowed for their share of the incidental expenses. It is unknown how long the Association lasted before an official public library was finally established.