Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162

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Ida Branch Library
3016 Lewis Ave.
Ida, MI 48140-0056
Phone: (734) 269-2191  
Fax: (734) 269-3315
Suzanne Krueger, Community Librarian

History of the Ida Branch Library

The Ida branch of the Monroe County Library System began about 1930 in a little building on the main street called the Anweiler building (since torn down).

The books were mainly solicited gift books and discarded books from State Library and the University of Michigan.

On April 11, 1934, the Monroe County Library was approved by the Board of Supervisors. On May 26, 1934, Mr. August Bastian, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, approved the county library board and the Ida library began. On May 30, 1934, the county library board was appointed as follows: Mrs. Gordon, chairman, Dr. McMillan, Hall Deland, James A. Kelly, and a fifth member.

About 1935 there was a definite shortage of work and to give employment to more people, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) was formed. This was a federal aid project to provide extra employment. Mrs. Lillian Navarre, library supervisor, had the project authorized at Lansing and a county library system was started. At this time, Dundee had a small library in the rear of a dry goods store. This served as headquarters with Miss Ruth Dancer (a graduate of U. of M. Library School) as librarian. She resigned in 1935 and the library closed from July to December.

All the books throughout the county libraries were gathered and taken to the third floor of the Monroe City Hall and on a very, very cold day and in a very cold room, 17 women sorted and mended the books. Ten cents a book was allowed for mending. This was allowed for supplies, but was not at all adequate. At this time there was a fund donated by Rep. Couzzens and the library was given $1,100 for supplies.

The Ida library was started by the WPA in a small building on the main street. The furnishings were gifts and things supplied by the WPA. Two very sturdy little chairs (with WPA labels) are still in use by the local library. Other chairs also still in use were those discarded from St. Joseph's School. Mrs. Navarre purchased these at twenty-five cents apiece, then had them refinished and re-caned. The drapes were especially attractive with colorful applique work. This was a WPA project for the women. As far as we can determine, Mrs. Elizabeth Cory (recently deceased) was the first branch librarian. At that time the local libraries were called stations rather than branches.

In 1939 Miss Laura Sylvester came to Ida. She had been at the Petersburg station, but Mrs. Navarre decided it would be better if each girl were stationed in her own town, so Laura was moved to Ida. We knew Laura and she was very popular, especially with children. A person who corresponds with her gave us her Detroit address and she sent us valuable information by return mail.

She said she was trained by Mrs. Rolph until 1936 and was sent to Petersburg to open a branch. She spent three years there and was moved to Ida. She remained at Ida until May 27, 1941.

In her letter she states that her work at the "stations" was spent telling children stories on Saturdays, supplying seven schools from the surrounding county with books, and supplying the local high school students with articles for biographies and historical events, plus clippings and pictures taken from magazines. She and the other "station" attendants met once a month in Monroe, learning book repairing and giving book reports. She is especially grateful to the man who was at the time Ida supervisor, Mr. August Bastian. Mrs. Navarre tells us he was chairman of the board and influenced other supervisors to help the libraries. Laura Sylvester was replaced by Mrs. Barret who stayed with the library until June, 1945. During this time the library was turned over to the county and was no longer under WPA. The county libraries were financed by penal fine money, the law having been passed in 1939.

Professor McHale of the U. of M. School of Library Science had chosen a set of books as a guiding list for buying. These were placed in the Ida library, probably because it was centrally located.

From June to September 1945, Miss Kohler took over, but as far as we can determine it was for only one month. There are no records for October or November, 1945; the library had been closed for lack of help.

In December 1945, Mrs. Elmer (Emma) Roswurm took over. The room at this time was completely renovated with new floor covering, a new oil heater, and a complete paint job. The desk table was replaced by a real used desk and new drapes were made.

In the summer of 1946, the library was again closed for six weeks because penal fine money was no longer available. At this time Miss Knudsen was appointed county librarian, but she was not happy, so Mrs. Navarre took over again.

In 1947 Mrs. Navarre was replaced by her assistant, Mrs. Mary Daume, as head librarian. "Station" was replaced by the word "branch" during the year of 1947.

In 1951 the Ida library was moved to its present location in the township building. Before this time the utilities (light and heat) had been furnished by the township.

Now in the nice new room, including a new tile floor, running water, a storeroom, and new venetian blinds, the library was quite adequate. The linoleum, stove, and desk in the old library had been sold and part of the money was used to remake drapes, buy a new wall clock, magazine rack, and a reading table. The main library supplied us with another much nicer desk. The township gave a ceiling projector and the children gave pennies toward a record player, but this has since been replaced.

Some of the handymen in town moved the old shelves to the new storeroom and there was plenty of room. But, with the school consolidation and the new folks moving in, the storeroom door had to be removed and the room used for books before long.

Emma Roswurm remained at the library for more than 16 years. The registration increased from 165 in December 1945 to 956 in 1962. The number of books increased from 1,098 in December 1945 to 4,340 in 1962. The circulation increased from 130 in December 1945 to 736 in December 1962.

Mrs. Roswurm had this to say about her library service: "The 16 years were most enjoyable. Reminiscing, I remember a wooden booth built at homecoming to display books. Another year we had a tent (which blew down during a wind storm) where we made records to be sent to relatives."

"One year we were in the big tent displaying books and inviting people to rest. When the bookmobiles were very new, we borrowed one for the parade and parked it on the grounds afterwards so folks could get acquainted with it. At another time our Mrs. Daume and Marjorie Silver, with other help, made us a large float which we drove in the Ida parade. It was a large book, with two little girls dressed as the Dutch Twins, and a little boy as Boy Blue Asleep on the Hay, riding on the float. Halfway through the parade, which was on a very hot day, our "Boy Blue" said, 'I'm hot--when can I get off?' "

"Also remembered are the many times Ida library had open house and the way the local people cooperated. The Hobby Show was held one summer. One spring the poster display and the summer reading contests were followed by a party and the giving of certificates."

I have many, many pleasant memories of it all; the staff meetings including cold feet at the headquarters on Stewart Road, the picnics, visiting libraries, the many very fine women I was associated with, the fun at St. Mary's Lake workshops, the ride to Walden Woods workshop in the back of the old black panel truck and the poor food there, and exploring the Upper Peninsula at the workshop at Marquette.

Now at this time I am still hoping for a bigger and better room, and a much better way of financing the libraries.

It was with regret that I had to leave, but I will always be willing to help in any way I can."

Signed: Emma Roswurm

March, 1962

Mrs. James (Hilda) Roy of Dundee took over at the beginning of February 1962. She had worked at Dundee every Saturday and as substitute for two years, so she had some knowledge of library work.

The only improvement made from 1962 to 1968 was the addition of a few shelves. The Ida branch is much too small a library for the community and for the amount of service it is called upon to provide its patrons.

Circulation has increased from 736 in December 1962 to 1,651 in December 1967. The number of books in the library increased from 4,340 in December 1962 to 5,213 in December 1967.

Mrs. Wilbert (Juanita) Knapp was added to the staff in September 1961 as a substitute, and around the end of 1964 was called in to help every Wednesday for five hours due to an increase in circulation.

Mrs. Hilda Roy

Ida Branch, 1968

During June 1969, the library was closed for three weeks while carpenters enlarged the present 12 x 16 feet room by adding the township hall, a 14 x 26 feet room. This room is used to house the adult books. The township bought a new table and six gold leather chairs for the adult room. Both rooms were repainted (cool green), white drapes were added, and the ceilings were lowered and new fluorescent lighting put in. In addition to this, a telephone was installed--that's something the Ida branch has not had until this time.

In February 1971, Mrs. Juanita Knapp, substitute librarian, was transferred to Dorsch as one of their regular librarians. Mrs. Jack Parker helped until the fall. Mrs. Marilyn Norden became the new substitute in January 1972.

Carol Kolakowski, age six and a half, read 109 books in the summer of 1971 during the reading program. The Monroe Evening News took her picture along with her sister, Debbie, who had read 89. The girls are still avid library patrons in 1973.

In February 1972, we were told by Mrs. Daume that the state of Michigan wanted all the branches in the library system to be opened thirty hours. Library hours changed to Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12 - 6, Tuesday 2 - 8, Saturday 10 - 4. We are getting a "hot line" call and book delivery every day but Saturday from the Service Center. We have changed our procedure in circulating books: the patron signs the book cards with name, address or phone number. Book cards are now kept at the Service Center. All this is saving us many hours of work.

Mrs. Hilda Roy retired from the Ida Library in December of 1976. Mrs. Marilyn Norden, substitute since 1972, was appointed as the new librarian and started in January of 1977.

After about a year in the process, the Ida Township Board decided to move the library into a portable school room. This was purchased from the Ida School Board, and Wolverine Building moved it to a site in the park, directly back of the fire hall. The moving of books and equipment was completed the last week of July in 1977. The new location has an open room and lends itself far more to a library than the old. An open house was planned and canceled because of bad weather twice.

Mr. Dick Barkequest started the remodeling and Mr. John Gotha completed the job.

Two sets of tables and chairs were purchased for the children's section. A large cork board was also purchased. Judy Krueger painted a Winnie the Pooh mural in the children's area.

Mr. John Gotha built free-standing shelving in January of 1980.

Mr. John Gotha built an inside drop box in 1981. Ted Oberski built a new record rack, paperback rack, and magazine rack in 1983.

In 1983 the Ida Library received a flannel board from the Woman's Association. In 1984 a new sign was painted and hung.

Marilyn Norden retired in 1993.

After Marilyn Norden retired in 1993, Cynthia Green was appointed librarian at the Ida Branch in August of the same year.

The Monroe County Library System became computer automated in 1995 making check-out and material inventory easier and more efficient.

Barb Drodt became the Branch Librarian in 1998 replacing Cindy Green, who became the Dorsch Branch Librarian.

The Friends of the Ida Library group reestablished and became a driving force for a new and permanent library building in the Ida community.  The existing portable classroom building was the smallest branch in the Monroe County Library System, with 738 sq. ft. of usable area. The Ida Township Board allowed access to the park and the meeting room upstairs in the Fire Hall when special events and programs would require more space than the small library could accommodate a new building with adjacent community room was being sought.

The Ida Township Board, The Friends of the Library, and the Ida Civic Club all played a role in rallying support for a new building.  A five year, .5 mill tax was offered to the Ida Township taxpayers on the August 2002 primary election ballot to fund the new library-community room project. The estimated project cost was about $500,000, $100,000 coming from the township’s general fund, $75,000 in private donations and the remainder from the tax. The township voters overwhelmingly passed the tax proposal to generate $325,000 over five years.

David Arthur Consultants designed the new building and ground was broken in late March of 2003.  Significant donations for the project were made by the Ida Civic Club, Friends of the Ida Library, Aid Association for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood, Community Foundation of Monroe, Detroit Edison, Family of Dr. Charles Deland, Ida Elementary PTA, individuals, and La-Z-Boy, Inc. Community members, township officials and library administrators were present for the big event.

The branch closed on July 23, 2003 in order to relocate the books and materials to the new building.  A grand opening was celebrated a month later on August 24th. The beautiful new building was well received by the community.

Due to a rapid increase in library use there was a need for more hours.  In the spring of 2004 hours increased from 28 to 40 hours per week.

In December of 2008 Barbara Drodt retired with nearly 25 years of service to the Monroe County Library System. Suzanne Krueger (a graduate of Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science) replaced Mrs. Drodt and is the current Community Librarian for the Ida Branch.

The Ida Branch Library celebrated 10 years in the new building in August 2013. The community continues to enjoy the library and appreciate the expanded facility. People of all ages enjoy the many wonderful educational programs presented by the Ida Branch Library.

 


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