For an audio version, pick either the Hile version (also shown below in written format)
or the Glock version.
In the early part of 1910 the need for a library became apparent. Several prominent women from the community of Roanoke decided to take the initial steps towards forming the first library. They began by composing a committee from various women’s organizations in Roanoke. An invitation was issued to all women of the town who were interested in this project and as a result thirty-one names were secured for charter membership. Florence DeLong, Chairman Pro-Tem, appointed a committee of five to draft a constitution and by-laws and on February 5, 1910 the idea of a library for the town of Roanoke became a reality.
In the beginning, the method used to obtain books was a “gift day”. The first such day was held in March, 1910 and netted forty-two books. The only other means of support was the Library Club’s annual dues of one dollar per member and gifts from generous Roanoke merchants. Lecture courses, suppers and bake sales were also used to raise money.
The original home of the Library Club was a rented room upstairs in the E.E. Richards building on North Main Street. Rent was four dollars a month and Mr. Richards donated the electricity.
The Library Club, in the following years, occupied rooms in the Wasmuth, Grimm, I.O.O.F., and S. B. Dinius buildings as well as Roanoke State Bank when it was located on the corner of Second and Main Street. During the early fifties the Board of Trustees of Roanoke constructed an addition to the fire station located on Third Street to house the town hall and library.
In November of 1920 after the selection of a seven member board of trustees, the Library Club was turned over to the town of Roanoke. Original board members were: Mr. D. A. Wasmuth, Arden McCoy, Mrs. Faye Davidson, Miss Mino DeLong, Mrs. Addie Koontz, Mrs. Cora Wilson and Mr. L.D. Ward.
Funding for the now public library came from taxes paid by the residents of Roanoke. The first budget approved was for five hundred twenty eight dollars and an annual fee of one dollar per year was assessed township residents for use of the library.
The first librarian appointed was Mrs. Faye Davidson. She was paid a salary of twelve dollars a month. Her successors included Miss Mino Delong, Elizabeth DeLong and Edith Glock. Mildred Winchester became the first certified librarian of the Roanoke Public Library. Wilma Pence was appointed librarian after Mildred’s retirement and served in that position until it became mandetory to hire a certified librarian. Joan Hile agreed to become certified and was hired on August 1, 1973. She was Director of the Roanoke Public Library until her retirement on December 31, 1997.
In September of 1975, bonds were issued by the Roanoke Town Board to purchase a building that would provide updated facilities for the fire department, town marshal, town hall, clerk treasurer and the library.
The winter of 1978-79 saw many hours of volunteer labor by the library trustees’ families and friends who donated their time to paint wall and stain book stacks.
Eight thousand volumes were moved from the Third Street to its present home on Main Street in April of 1979.
The Friends of the Roanoke Public Library was organized to assist with fund-raising projects for the benefits of the library. They support such programs as the summer reading program. Through their many fund-raisers, they were able to purchase a new copier, magazine rack and additional book stacks.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s the library became computerized. The first computer was purchased with assistance from the Friend of the Roanoke Public Library. Grants were written by Denis Wilson and Joan Hile to secure three additional computers and a fax machine. One of the grants allowed the library to convert the Roanoke newspapers to CDs for preservation. Also, it is now possible to put the card catalog on computer.
Because of the dedication of the librarians and trustees, past and present; countless individuals and businesses; the commitment of the community to its people, young and old, is reflected in the Roanoke Public Library.
This was written by Joan Hile, Retired Roanoke Public Librarian who granted permission for this to be reprinted here on March 25, 2008.
Library History Cont’d
Celia Bandelier’s speech in 2012
I have been library director at the Roanoke Public Library for 6 years and during that time there has been constant talk of moving the library to a larger location. It was mentioned to me repeatedly that Pete Eshelman had offered the library/town space in the old coil factory building but nothing had ever come of it. I was told at one point that the reason that nothing ever came of it was because the library never presented Mr. Eshelman with a plan. One day, I was talking with one of my new assistants, Toni Fudge and she was telling me how she plotted out cemeteries. I asked her if you can plot out cemeteries can you help me draw up a floor plan for what I want our future library to look like? After a few drafts we came up with a plan and showed it to the library board at a one of their meetings. The board liked the plan and it got them thinking about ways to make the plan come to fruition. Jerry Anderson talked to John Stoeckley who at the time was still on town council about the land on the corner of Main and Vine, the C&M Planting Co. land. The Library Board approached the Town Council about going together and building on that upper section of land with the bottom being a parking lot. The building was to be 2-story with the library on the main floor and the town hall on the second. This idea was tossed around and all parties were agreeable if we could figure out a way to fund it.
It was then pointed out that before we go ahead and try to build, we should make sure that the deal with Pete Eshelman was a no deal. Preliminary discussion with him had the library paying $8 a square foot in rent or approximately $24,000 a year which is simply not possible with our approximately $80,000 budget. In late November/early December, Jerry Anderson was assigned to set up a meeting with Pete and our then acting president, Lee Weiss. When Jerry approached Pete, Pete told Jerry, let’s go talk with Celia and see what she wants. I showed Pete the drawing we had done; told him the library is now paying the town of $300 in rent and utilities; and the basics of our budget. He said how about if I lease you 3,000 square feet, you pay $1 in rent a year and $300 in utilities a month in exchange for the library renovating the space to fit the library’s needs. Jerry and I thought this was great, but we had to get the Library Board to agree and Pete had to get his brother to agree. Tim Eshelman quickly agreed and Pete sent Jerry a preliminary copy of the deal we had talked about.
Pete gave the library till Christmas when Jerry was leaving for Florida to accept the deal or Pete would offer the space to someone else. The Library Board called a special meeting to discuss the offer and at their December meeting agreed to pursue a lease with Pete. This decision was reached to go with the Eshelman deal as the deal with the town to develop the C&M property would have been a longer term project with more ongoing expenses for such things as restroom maintenance, building maintenance, landscape, snow removal, mowing, etc., although it would have resulted in the library co-owning a building that would be a more permanent home.
Since that time, the library has hired Nate Williams to handle the legal details of this transaction. We have recently been presented a lease that we find very favorable to the library. The route the library has chosen to take for this project is to set up a 501(c)3 corporation that will take care of the fundraising for the project and allow us to avoid some of the legal technicalities that the library as a local government entity would encounter.
At the March 21 meeting, the board decided to hire KRM Architecture out of Anderson, IN to assist in this venture. They were chosen because of their vast experience in libraries and historical renovations. The plan is start construction of the renovation in June with move in date of late August or September.
With this move the library will be going from a 1300 square foot space to almost 3000 square foot space. The plan is to include a meeting room for outside organization such as the Lions and quiet studying, which can be used to expand our new programming room for when we have our big summer reading programs. We are also adding a bigger reading area for people to hang out; storage space so my office can be an actual office; more shelving to add to the collection and make the collection we have now more accessible; add up-to-date equipment as in a projector with screen for movie nights; flat screen TV for advertising up-coming events and showing educational videos and an IT room to safe guard our Internet equipment so the library will be able to continue to offer free wi-fi and computer access to those in the community that cannot afford this service at home. Of course all these wonderful improvements to the library and renovating the space do not come cheap. At this point I will turn this over to Perry Collins, our head fund raiser….
On March 2, 2013, the Roanoke Public Library held a book brigade where books were passed from person to person from the old address of 126 N. Main Street to the new location at 314 N. Main Street. Sesame Street’s Elmo made an appearance at the book brigade thanks to PNC Bank. From that start through March 17th, the library was closed to the public and the move was completed thanks to the hard work of the staff and some volunteers. On March 18th, the library re-opened to the public. On Thursday May 2, 2013, a Grand Opening Celebration was held for the big donors to the project. Food and drink were provided by Joseph Decuis. The invitees were given classic books to bring to this celebration which they donated to the Library’s collection. Many of the donors were given a present of a local author’s signed book. On May 4, the library hosted a grand opening celebration for the public. 19 local authors were at this celebration signing books and many of them donating a book to the library. Snacks and drinks were provided by the Board President’s restuarant, The Country Post. The authors’ visit was planned and organized by library patron and local author, PeggySue Well and her daughter Estee Wells. Alice Eshelman then invited each author to dine on her at the Emporium.