Column: History repeats itself at museum
September 04. 2013 1:22PM
The Dell Rapids Carnegie Public Library exists today because of the efforts of a group of forward thinking residents.
From early on, these residents felt the need for a public library; however, funds were not readily available, and it took almost 10 years before a dream became reality. The library was housed in rooms downtown, where most of the books and magazines were donated.
Bake sales, socials, recitals, musicals, lectures, books showers and rummage sales were held in an attempt to procure enough money to build a modern library. The residents of the Dell Rapids fell short of the demand to acquire enough financial support to build.
Several of the ladies looked for financial support of philanthropists and others who conceivably would donate toward the fund. For some, there was no response, no support and no money.
Gratefully, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, who grew up in a family that believed in the importance of books and learning, and was a steel tycoon, donated $6,000 toward the fund to build a new, modern-day library.
The committee was close, but not quite there. The women canvased the wards with petitions that a tax issue be voted on to help support a city library. Thankfully, the residents believed in their efforts and the importance of a public library and voted yes to the tax on April 21, 1903.
Plans were designed and work began. It took a while — a long while.
Finally, on March 16, 1910, the library was dedicated. School Superintendent Upton Earls presented the keys to Mayor Homer Krause on behalf of the city. A new contemporary library finally was here.
Thanks to the vision and hard work of a group of early pioneer women, a dream had become a reality not just for them, but for the Community of Dell Rapids.
That same solid quartzite building has became an irrevocable part of our history. On Feb. 13, 1986, because of the efforts of a local scout, Joe Hollis, the Dell Rapids Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the past 10 or more years, a group of citizens has stepped up to fill in the role of their early pioneer predecessors.
Should the community add on to the existing library or build new? Should we incur a new tax to help support that effort? Who will pay for those efforts? How to we accomplish a goal?
These are all the same questions asked more than a hundred years ago. These are not new questions, concerns or ideas.
It makes me wonder: “Does history really just repeat itself?”