Clare County Review & Marion Press

Postcard from the Pines: More Library Noise

Unbelievably, November came in like a lamb, but hang on to your mittens because much like unpredictable March, it could very well go raging into December like a lion in search of holiday mayhem. That scenario doesn’t even seem possible on this lovely late fall day. Granted, most of the leaves have fallen and early morning temperatures aren’t very pleasant, but we can’t complain about cloudless sixty degree afternoons. The weather could be so very different. We could be shoveling snow instead of blowing leaves. Count your blessings. It’s the little things.
So, it’s time to make some Library Noise. If you recall, I promised that there would be more informational noise on behalf of the M. Alice Chapin Memorial Library, a.k.a., Marion Public Library. Perhaps I should have said that in reverse, as today the library is better known as the Marion Public. As far as I know, there has not been an official move to change the name to the mundane. Marion Public Library is far less lettering on a sign than M. Alice Chapin Memorial Library. But in fact, the public library in Marion, Michigan would not be what we know and have today without M. Alice Chapin. It was she who gave the generous donation of her home, belongings and her estate for the use and support of a public library for the folks in her adopted home town.
Not everyone knows the history of our library, and so we’ll refresh minds with a brief update. Folks have always read books in our town, and generously lent books to one another. In the early 1930’s Kathryn Sible Willet (Dr. Harry Willet’s wife) began the first lending library from her home on the corner of Water and Clark Streets. She was always more than willing to lend one of her ‘literary friends’ to a friend. At the same time a “lending shelf” was established at the drug store. Folks were welcome to take books and donate books.
In the summer of 1939 the first public library was set up in the old Village Hall. This bookshelf held 417 books and was so successful that the library received its first state aid in just four years. The first Village millage dedicated to the growing library came six years later in 1949.
In 1954, after more than 60 years as a resident, Alice Chapin gave her home, situated on a large lot on Pickard Street, and most of its furnishings to the Library Association for use as a public library for our town. At her passing three years later, she further endowed Marion with the bulk of her estate. The M. Alice Chapin Library was born and she flourished.
Mrs. Chapin’s gift truly allowed the library to grow and expand for the next twenty-five plus years, until it became clear that more and better space was needed. The Alice Chapin Library was like the old woman in the shoe…she had so many books she didn’t know what to do. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of the Library and the Village, the library moved into its present home in 1985. For almost forty years Marionites have enjoyed the library on Main Street and it has served us well.
As winter approaches it’s time to think of the warm and cozy things we like to do. Don’t forget the Alice Chapin/Marion Public Library. They have something for everyone, be it the latest best seller, movies, or talking books and video games. If you’re in the mood for one of the classics from another day, check out the newest section, Vintage Favorites. If that peaks your attention, stop by, say hello to Librarian Sarah, and ask her to show you the Favorites. We guarantee they will put a smile on your face. And for a moment they may just take you back to Mrs. Chapin’s little house library.
This week’s photo was taken on the porch of the Pickard Street library, perhaps at the time of the Bicentennial. Members of the Ladies VFW Auxiliary are presenting the librarian with a flag to fly from the porch. Note the sign. That’s certainly a new twist on an old name. Left to Right, Susie Wyman, Rhoda Chamberlain, Librarian Mary Downing and Irene Wheeler.

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