ST. PARIS – The beginning of the St. Paris Public Library was put into motion by Mrs. Thyrza Furrow Kiser in 1936, when she donated the building, books from her personal collection, and $1,000 to purchase additional materials. Mrs. Kiser’s vision for the library was to extend the cultural and spiritual values of life to the citizens of the village.
Upon presenting Mrs. Kiser’s proposal to the St. Paris Lions Club, a committee was formed to investigate the possibility of creating and maintaining a library. The State Library approved the formation of the library and appropriation of funds from intangible taxes for operating expenses. After suggestion by the committee that the library fall under the local public school board’s jurisdiction, they in turn appointed a seven-member Board of Trustees on June 15, 1936.
Seven days later, a resolution was adopted that extended services of the Johnson-St. Paris Village School District Library to citizens of Champaign County.
Election of a head librarian resulted in Miss Lucile Frazier becoming the first librarian. In November, the County Tax Commission informed the Board of Trustees the library would be appropriated $2500 for the year of 1937.
With the library becoming a reality, the community responded by donating books from their personal collections to add to the library. On February 1, 1937, the St. Paris Public Library was dedicated and officially opened its doors to an enthusiastic and thankful community.
In the dedication’s pamphlet was a brief description of how the library came to be, finishing with this statement: “Vastly more than a mere collection of books, the library is a vital force from which emulates an influence for the uplift and progress of our people.” Eighty years later, the library continues to be a vital force in the community, offering a wide variety of services for patrons of all ages. It is hoped that Mrs. Kiser would be proud of the way her legacy continues in the library’s positive impact on the community.
The Board of Trustees of the St. Paris Public Library would like to invite the community to celebrate our 80th anniversary on Friday, Oct. 13, with an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, and refreshments will be provided.
Nicole Rush is the director of the St. Paris Public Library.