History of the Bay City Library Association
Early History of Bay County Public Library by Isabele A. Ballou (about 1946)
Contributed by Tom Birch who transcribed this document into digital format. (July 2003)
Source Note: The author of this document is unknown. However, there is reason to believe it was prepared in part, if not whole, by Isabele A. Ballou, a librarian at the Bay City Public Library for 27 years, from 1919 to 1946. Portions of the original document are handwritten, and sometime later, a more complete document was typed. Therefore, it is possible that more than one author may have contributed to the final version.
Isabele was born to Dexter A. and Moly (Fitzhough) Ballou on August 8, 1871, in Kawkawlin. In 1874, her family moved to Bay City. She graduated from the University of Michigan, taught school in Bay City and was librarian there for 27 years. She was a member of the Emeritus Club and of the Trinity Episcopal Church. She died on December 12, 1953 in her home at 2222 Groveland Road and is buried at Elm Lawn Cemetery. (Source: Obit, 12 Dec 1943, Bay City Times)
This writing is presented over 9 pages which can be navigated using the menu box in upper right corner or the arrows at the bottom of each page. A link to a "Map/Directory" reference is provided to identify the locations mentioned.
Toward the close of the year 1869, a number of young men met in the office of the Saginaw Salt and Lumber Company on Water Street and decided to form a circulating library for the citizens of Bay City. A recent state law had provided for the incorporation of literary and scientific associations and they found they could take advantage of its provisions. For some reason they wanted to complete the organization before the end of the year. They lost no time. They drew up and signed the articles of association and by-laws of association preliminary to being incorporated. Twenty-six citizens were associated together as the incorporators. They sent their articles of association and their petition to be incorporated to Lansing before the end of December and the Secretary of State for Michigan certified that the articles of incorporation had been filed in his office on December 29, 1869.
The enthusiastic organizers soon held a meeting of all members of the Association and elected officers, appointed a librarian or custodian, and adopted rules for the government of the Institution. The first thing to do was to get money. To do this, they provided for three classes of members – perpetual members, life members and annual members. The perpetual members paid in $100.00 and the life members $50.00 if they were men, but only $25.00 if they were women. These two classes did not have to pay annual dues. The annual members, if men, paid $5.00 a year to be members and $5.00 a year as dues. Female persons were charged only three dollars a year as a membership fee and $2.00 as annual dues. The by-laws provided for a finance committee, which was at once appointed and went to work. Within two weeks it had collected enough money to warrant buying books. Mr. Aaron J. Cooke, the chairman of the recently appointed executive committee, put a notice in the newspaper inviting all members of the Association to submit a list of titles of books they would like to have in the Library. The members showed great interest, and from the titles submitted, the first list of standard books was selected. The list was approved by the Association and the first books were ordered.