Molalla Public Library, which holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating library in Clackamas County, celebrates its 117th Birthday on Saturday, May 13.
Library Director Diana Hadley has scheduled several events at the library to celebrate the occasion.
The library's history is outlined in a book called called A History of the Clackamas County Library System published in 1940. It was compiled through a WPA Writers Program during the late 1930s.
On the first page of the book, Molalla Public Library was highlighted with this introduction:
In 1900, Molalla opened a library which has since given continuous service.
Molalla proudly boasts "the distinction of giving the longest un- interrupted library service in the county."
With the exception of those of Church and Sunday School libraries, there is no record of a circulating library in the county from l852 until near the twentieth century, when Oswego and Molalla revived library interest.
0swego experienced a dormant period starting in l906, but Molalla was able to give continuous and uninterrupted service from 1900 up to the present time. The next library was established in Oregon City in 1909.
By March 1935, the local libraries had developed to such a stage that it became necessary to have centralized control of operation. Consequently, the projects were consolidated. Mrs. George Case represented the Molalla Library at an inaugural meeting of county libraries pioneering the project. On July 9, 1938, the county court created a Clackamas County Library Board and named Mrs. Reva Case, of Molalla, as one of the board members.
In 1939, a WPA Bookmobile was loaned to the county, where it served people in nearly all rural towns. Stops along the road were made, as well as the regular monthly visits to branch libraries, including Molalla, Colton and Mulino.
The book, A History of the Clackamas County Library System, includes a chapter on the history of the Molalla Library, written by Mrs. George Case in about 1939. Her chapter is included in its entirety here:
By Mrs. George Case
In the summer of 1900, Molalla became somewhat book-minded and an organization called the Book Club was formed.
Shortly afterward, a small shipment of books arrived from Portland, consigned to Mrs. Willard Robbins.
Under the sponsorship of the Book Club a library was installed at Mrs. Robbins home and she became Molalla's first librarian.
The library remained at Mrs. Robbins' for a little over three years and was then moved to Mackerel's Harness Shop with Mr. Mackerel being librarian, custodian, janitor and all around repair man, a position he held for more than thirty years.
In l906 a traveling library service was received from Portland, The Civic Club now became the sponsor of the library, and with the aid of the Artisans' Lodge, which paid all transportation charges, maintained uninterrupted library service until l936, when SERA took over the Molalla unit in the countywide system.
By its continuous library operation Molalla has the distinction of giving the longest library service in the county. Circulation figures are not available.
The chief source of books, which constitute Molalla's splendid library, has been through donations. Among the larger was the collection given the library by Mrs, Joy, a former school teacher. It included over 200 carefully chosen titles in excellent condition.