This is the first in a series of articles that will discuss the history of the Pawhuska Public Library and upcoming events to celebrate the Library’s 100th anniversary.
Current library staff includes Lu King, Library Director; Yvonne Rose, Assistant Librarian; Lenna Hayes, Kathleen Auschwitz, Nancysu Herron, and Georgia Christian.
According to King, the library plans to have monthly events throughout the year as part of their celebration.
"I spoke to the Rotary in January about the Library’s 100th anniversary celebration," said King. "In February, we hosted a book signing for Dr. Joe (Bob) Surber’s newest book ‘Today’s Tomorrow.’"
In March, the Library will be hosting the Bartlesville Tallgrass Tellers.
"These entertaining story tellers will present historic stories during the period the Library was established," said King. "The stories will be contemporary with those times and events."
This free program will be open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
The Pawhuska Public Library began as a private library for the forerunner of the GFWC Heeko Club, the Pawhuska Women’s Club. Heeko was one of 25 departments of the Pawhuska Women’s Club which was formed on June 2, 1911. Heeko is a Native American word that means "Learning." The early days of Heeko were devoted to the study of books and their authors. This was a time when women were not allowed to vote and had little voice in community affairs.
Initially, Women’s Club members shared books from their personal collections. As the collection grew, one member offered to store them in her home.
"Because books were not generally available, club members began to share their books with friends outside of the Women’s Club. Word quickly spread about their small collection. Interest grew. It was phenomenal," said King.
The Women’s Club began purchasing books to increase their inventory and began loaning their collection to even more people in the community.
"By May of 1913, the Women’s Club had raised $4.35 in fines to use for new books," she said. "By fall, the Club had almost $20 for their book fund which was a lot of money at the time. Presumably, these monies were the beginning of funds for the ensuing library."
On October 2, 1916, the Women’s Club Library Committee stated books were being catalogued and readied for distribution at the library’s new location, the Rider’s Music Store in downtown Pawhuska.
Four years later, in the fall of 1920, the Women’s Club Library opened to the general public. Mrs. Frank Beaumann, a trained librarian, volunteered her services for two afternoons a week, on a non-compensation basis. Her husband, Frank Beaumann, was Pawhuska’s City Manager at the time.
The City’s first Library Board consisted of Women’s Club members Mrs. T. J. Leahy, Mrs. Vernon L. Whiting and Mrs. Beaumann. Their task was to submit a workable plan which revealed there were 395 books on the shelves and that more were pouring in daily. These gifts were from club members and other civic-minded individuals. They also reported that, through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Whiting, a room in the Whiting Building on Kihekah Avenue had been donated for the library’s use. The new library would be open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and would prove to be of inestimable value to the Pawhuska community and fill a long-felt need.
(Editor’s Note: Research has not been able to determine the exact location of the Rider’s Music Store. Anyone with such information is encouraged to contact the Journal Capital.)