Public library service in Moline has had a long history. Months after the City of Moline was incorporated in 1872, the first Board of the Moline Public Library was appointed on October 29. Stillman Wheelock, president of the Moline Plow Company, submitted a bid to lease property to the library at 310 15th Street. The city accepted Wheelock’s bid and signed a five-year lease at a rate of $200 per year. Kate Holt was appointed Moline’s first librarian in 1873 and continued her work until March of 1887.
In July of 1901, W.A. Jones of the Moline Daily News sent a letter to steel baron Andrew Carnegie, without knowledge of the Library Board, addressing the need for a new library in Moline. Jones noted that the community has “an excellent public library” but is was in “a very poor location, where the patrons are compelled to cross numerous railroad tracks and where a good part of time the smoke from a factory just across the street pours through the window.” Jones’ request was denied on the grounds that Moline had a number of wealthy citizens who could donate the necessary funds. Jones appealed the decision, and on August 31, 1901, the city of Moline received a letter from James Bertram, private secretary to Andrew Carnegie, stating:
“Responding to yours of July 2, 1901, if the city of Moline will furnish a suitable site and agree to maintain a free public library at cost of not less than thirty-seven hundred dollars a year, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to provide thirty-seven thousand dollars for the erection of a free library building.”*
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