El Reno Carnegie Library

215 East Wade
El Reno, OK 73036

History :

The history of the El Reno Carnegie Library is a long and rich one. In the 1890s the Athenaeum Club of El Reno organized a small library. In the beginning, members met in each other's homes and held small entertainments to raise money to buy books. In 1902, the club succeeded in gathering enough citizen support to persuade the city council to establish and maintain a public library.

Appointed to the Library Board of directors were; E.D. Humphrey, Henry Lassen, J. Hensley, J.A. Hatchett, I.C. Montgomery, and S.H. Reid. In 1897, the board made arrangements to rent rooms on the second floor of the building at 219 W. Bickford to house the library. The rent for those rooms was $17.50 a month. Athenaeum contracted clubs in town to solicit funds and books for the library. The first librarian was E.D. Cave.

On January 28, 1904, the board voted to accept Andrew Carnegie's proposition to give $12,500 if the city would agree to maintain the library at an expense of not less than $1,250 a year. The library board accepted the completed building on May 5, 1905. Twenty-four public libraries received grants from Andrew Carnegie between 1900 and 1922 totaling almost $500,000. These libraries included Ardmore, Bartlesville, Chickasha, Collinsville, Cordell, El Reno, Elk City, Enid, Fredrick, Guthrie, Hobart, Lawton, McAlester, Miami, Muskogee, Oklahoma City, Perry, Ponca City, Sapulpa, Shawnee, Tahlequah, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Woodward. When it opened, the El Reno Carnegie Library became the fourth Carnegie Library in the Oklahoma Territory and is currently the oldest Carnegie library building in the state still used as a library.
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