The new Public Library quickly became a Hub providing services and meeting facilities for a variety of patrons: book clubs, garden groups, genealogical societies, and the Boy and Girl Scouts, to name a few. Men checked out books to study farming methods, learn repair techniques, and find out about the latest in technology. One of the most popular books was a manual explaining how to repair the Model T. In 1909, the Jackson Art Association organized and held lectures and mounted exhibits of artwork loaned by residents as well as from museums and galleries in Detroit, Chicago, New York, and the like.
Stereographic travels and phonographic concerts
“The Jackson Public Library is an unusual social and civic center, declares Mr. J. Jones, a newcomer here.” He particularly mentions the splendid collection of stereographic travel tours for home use, the privilege of using the library on Sunday, and the “newly-instituted phonograph concerts.” — Jackson Citizen Patriot: April 4, 1917
The Wartime Hub
In wartime the library served the community as an information hub. Posted maps showed battlefronts. Books and pamphlets helped women Hooverize intelligently so that meatless Tues and wheat-less Wed shall be days of joy and not of gloom. The juvenile section was enriched with Uncle Sam’s Boy at War and The Adventures of Arnold Adair American Ace.
During the WWI, head librarian John Clevenger led the Victory Book Drive, which sent books to camps in the U.S. and “over there.”
During WWII and the Korean Conflict the Jackson County Dad’s Service Club purchased up-to-date technology books honoring the young men and women who had served. The Public Library dedicated a room in the Carnegie Building to house these books. Jackson Junior College had a similar program for their students who served.
The Jackson Public Library was also a hub for young people. Children attended musical programs, storytelling, and library week events in the second floor children’s room. Did you know that we had stereoscopes in the children’s room? It was a viewing thing with two eyepieces and you put a card in out in front of that which had a picture on it only it had two pictures, one for your left eye and one for your right eye, and so when you looked through the lenses at it, it made it look three-dimensional. — Interview with Natalie Field: 2014
Old Flappers and New Philosophers
Older Students from nearby schools came to do homework and socialize. Jackson Junior College student Len Crandall was an avid reader who often went to the public library. He wrote in his 1932 diary about books and his girlfriend Mary:
The note she wrote me in the library today seems to indicate that she really does like me. I wonder? Shall I ask her to go steady with me? I don’t know. . . Worked all day, played “hearts” at Ben’s until 11:30 and then came home and read Fitzgerald’s Flappers and Philosophers. I wish I could write like that. — Jackson Junior College student Len Crandall: 1932
The City Library was doing a yeoman’s job of providing services for city residents. But county residents were underserved. They were hesitant to come to the big city and could not check out books at the library. What did people in rural Jackson County do to satisfy their “book hunger?”