Library of Hawaii, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii

Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings

Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings (front)
Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings (back)

Library of Hawaii

The Library of Hawaii, had its official beginning in 1909, when on April 17th of that year, the Territorial Governor of Hawaii, Walter Francis Frear (1863-1948), signed House Bill No. 143, Act 83, entitled “An Act to provide for the establishment and maintenance of the Library of Hawaii.” 1

Prior to the passing of the Bill, Governor Frear met with Andrew “Andy” Carnegie to discuss Carnegie’s offer of $100,000 to build a new public library building. By selling the property at the corner of Alakea and Hotel Streets, which was occupied by the The Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association (a membership library established in 1879), the proceeds  of the sale would aid in the establishment of the proposed public circulating library. In addition, the Association’s 20,000 volume inventory would be transferred to the proposed public library.2

The Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association at Alakea and Hotel Streets. Pre-1910. Photo by Ray Jerome Baker from the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, R. J. Baker Collection of the Kamehameha Preparatory Department. (Public Domain)

The Carnegie Library

In May 1910, it was announced that New York architect, Henry Davis Whitfield, Andrew Carnegie’s brother-in-law, was chosen to design the new library, and Honolulu architect, Henry Livingstone Kerr, would supervise the construction of the building.3 Whitfield, who also designed Eaton Hall at Tufts University (1908) and the Federal Building in Hilo, Hawaii (1915), was considered at the time to be the world’s foremost expert on library design, having already designed many of the larger Carnegie libraries. Kerr designed over 900 buildings in Hawaii, including Honolulu’s historic McCandless Building (1906) and the Yokohama Specie Bank Building (1910).

Construction of the new Library building began on Saturday, October 21, 1911, when a two by three foot by twenty inch ironstone cornerstore, inscribed “Library of Hawaii, 1911,”4 was laid by members of the Hawaiian Lodge during an elaborate ceremony officiated by the Masons. 

The Library Opens

On February 1, 1913, the Library of Hawaii opened to the public with much enthusiasm. Governor Frear, the recipient of Card No. 1, was issued the first book, “The Government of Our Cities,” by W. B. Munro, by the Librarian,Miss Allyn. A free concert by the Hawaiian Band, and speeches by Chairman A. Lewis, Jr., of the Library Board, and Prof. M. M. Scott of the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association proceeded the official opening of the doors to the public.5

The Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2, 1913, page 10;

The two-story Mediterranean Revival style building located at 478 South King Street in Honolulu, was fronted by the signature Carnegie columns. Inside, patrons were greeted by an airy and spacious front delivery area, separate children’s area, catalogue, reading and reference rooms. A lanai reading room, and separate lecture, study, and children’s story rooms were located on the second floor In addition to the new library building, a traveling library was instituted to ensure citizens on islands other than O’ahu would have access to the new public service.6

Pre-1923 photograph by Rice and Perkins.(Public Domain)

In 1927, much needed renovations to expand the building were approved by the territory legislature. Two wings were added to the original building, as well as an open-air courtyard in the middle.

In 1978, the building was designated a historic site and was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Library of Hawaii is now part of the Hawaii State Public Library System, which is comprised of fifty-one libraries on all of the major islands. The library system contains over 3 million books and reference materials.

Margaret B. Jennings

Margaret Bronson Jennings (1924-2018) born February 15, 1924 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was an LSU fan and a member and officer of the Krewe of Attakapas.

Sources: [1] The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 17, 1909, page 2; [2] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 26, 1909, page 4; [3] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 21, 1910, page 5; [4] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, October 16, 1911, page 8; [5] The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 1, 1913, page 10; [6] The Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2, 1913, page 10.

The Fletcher Public Library, Fletcher, Vermont

1896 Fletcher Public Library Card No. 53 issued to James Fitzgerald

1896 Fletcher Public Library Card No. 53 issued to James Fitzgerald (front)
1896 Fletcher Public Library Card No. 53 issued to James Fitzgerald (back)

The Fletcher Public Library

The Fletcher Public Library opened on August 8, 1896, with an inventory of 110 volumes provided by the state of Vermont.   The library was located in the Fletcher Post Office and Mrs. C. Carpenter was the librarian.

Chartered in 1781, Fletcher, Vermont, is located in Franklin County in northwestern Vermont and currently has population of about 1,400 residents.

Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown, New York

Pre-1974 Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library Borrower’s Card

Pre-1974 Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library Borrower’s Card (front)
Pre-1974 Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library Borrower’s Card (back)

Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library

Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library (Photo from “An Illustrated Souvenir of the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library,” Watertown, New York, July 11, 1903, Dedication Pamphlet)(Public Domain)

The Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library was funded by Mrs. Emma Flower Taylor in memory of her father and designed by Orchard, Lansing & Joralemon of Niagara Falls. The library was dedicated on November 10, 1904.

Roswell Pettibone Flower

Cigarette trade card from the “Presidential Possibilities” series, issued in 1888 by W. Duke Sons & Co. (public domain) 

Roswell P. Flower (1835–1899), was a New York State Congressman from 1881 to 1890, and the 30th Governor of New York from 1891 to 1894.

Howard Ray Ferguson

Howard Ray Ferguson (1926–2001) was born in Watertown and worked for the Black-Clawson Co. in Watertown. 


The Forbes Library, Northampton, Massachusetts

Forbes Library, Northampton, MA (pre-1923 postcard – public domain)

The Forbes Library, also known as “the castle on the hill,” due to its solitary location, opened on October 23, 1894 at 20 West St, Northampton, Massachusetts.  Judge Charles Edward Forbes (1795-1881), a desiring a public library for the citizens of Northampton, left in his will a large sum for “purchase of a site and erection of a building for the accommodation of a public library, and for the purchase of books etc. to be placed therein for the use of the inhabitants of the said town of Northampton and their successors forever.”

William C. Brocklesby (1841-1910), who had designed a number of buildings at nearby Smith College, was commissioned to design and build a “fireproof building” to house the new library.  Brocklesby designed a Richardsonian Romanesque, three-story stone building with an all steel frame and a stone, slate and copper exterior. The large building could accommodate over 400,000 volumes.  The library underwent a complete renovation between 1998 and 2001 and is listed on the Register of Historic Buildings.  The Forbes Library is also home to the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum.