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As It Was: Women Campaign for Grants Pass Library

They’d been talking for at least 10 years about the need for a free public library before the 11 women appeared before the Grants Pass City Council in May 1913.

They presented a carefully crafted ordinance that prompted the Rogue River Courier to report, “Any who may have feared Grants Pass women were unprepared for the duties of citizenship would have had their minds freed from that doubt had they been present at the meeting.” 

The women also announced they had already raised $1,000 to help fund the library. 

Their plan was to stock a small room at city hall with books and magazines, and raise more money through subscription.  The ordinance provided for a 13-member library commission, including the 11 women present and two men.  One man at the meeting expressed fear that the commission might have too much censoring power.  The women countered by saying they would be faithful to the city’s trust. 

The Courier said further debate followed, with the councilmen ending up “a good lap behind the women at the finish.”  They voted 7 to 1 to approve the ordinance.

Finally, Grants Pass had a public library.

Source: "Provide for Free Public Library." Rogue River Courier, 23 May 1913 [Grants Pass OR], p. 1+ Historic Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088281/1913-05-23/ed-1/seq-1/. Accessed 17 May 2017

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.