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This Date In Central Minnesota History: February 12th, 1858

Photo from the Stearns History Museum: Photo of the first school in St. Cloud - Everett School. It housed St. Cloud's first library

ST. CLOUD — February 12th, 1858 – First Library in St. Cloud

In 1857, the first school in St. Cloud was named after famed Boston orator and politician Edward Everett.  Everett was so honored to have the school named after him, that he arranged for $200 worth of books to be sent to St. Cloud and to be used as a library for the school.  These 130 volumes arrived in the city on February 12th, 1858.  This was the first library in the city of St. Cloud.

An interesting note about these books is that when they arrived in St. Cloud, they were held for a time by L. Gorton because the transportation charges needed to be paid.  Who was to pay for these transportation charges?  Another school, the Franklin Institute, offered to pay  in exchange for redeeming the books for the benefit of the school, but that proposition was rejected at a school meeting.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

A committee of 5 concerned citizens, C. T. Stearns, J. Taylor, H. Z. Mitchell, E. Childs, and L. Gorton, were appointed to devise a plan for taking possession and disposing of the books.  They must have come to some kind of an agreement, because the books eventually ended up where they were supposed to be: at Everett School.  There they remained for10 years, helping to educate the citizens of St. Cloud until the school closed in 1868.

This first Everett School Library was not a public library.  St. Cloud wouldn’t get on that path until several years later.

In 1865 a group of women formed the Library Association.  For years, St. Cloud’s “public library” consisted of collections of books kept in a room in one downtown building or another.  When Everett School closed in 1868, the books that remained from the original 130 were transferred to the city library.

St. Cloud got its first official public library building when the Carnegie Library was built in 1902.

Thanks to the Stearns History Museum and Sarah Warmka for helping with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History”.

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