MINNIE C. SHREVE.
Probably no local institution is so greatly appreciated in the average community as is a free library, especially
if the library be so constituted and supervised as to meet the needs and tastes of the reading and consulting public.
The city of Napa is fortunate in having one of the best libraries of a city of its size in the state, and statistics
show that the people have recognized its availability and value to such an extent that nearly fifty thousand books
and periodicals are taken out by the patrons annually.
The nucleus of the present library was formed when, in September, 1870, the Napa Library Association established
a library in the present city hall, occupying a room upstairs on the Brown street side of the building. At that
time the library comprised about one thousand volumes, but these were not made accessible to the general public
without cost until 1885. The list of books was gradually enlarged, but the public library did not become of popular
importance until 1901, when Mr. and Mrs. George E. Goodman erected the fine stone structure now standing on First
street, at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars, and presented it to the city to be used as a free library for the
city and county. Upon its completion the old library was moved into the new building, and constant and systematic
additions are constantly being made, so that today the shelves contain a very satisfactory collection of books,
both as to number and classification. In 1924 forty six thousand eight hundred twenty three books and fifteen hundred
and fifty nine periodicals were taken out, many of the patrons being from the rural districts.
The present library board is composed of H. S. Davis, president; J. L. Shearer, Robert Holden, Mrs. H. H. Sawyer
and Mrs. Charles Ferguson. Miss Mary Boggs was the first paid librarian and she was succeeded by Thos. M. E. Jacobs,
who in turn was followed by Mr. C. B. Seeley. The position of librarian is now held by Miss Minnie C. Shreve, who
was reared and educated in the bay region of California. She holds a teacher's certificate. She has filled the
position of librarian in the Goodman library for six years and her services have been eminently satisfactory, for
her intelligent direction has enabled the institution to function properly and efficiently. Under her management
many important and appreciated improvements have been made and her efforts to popularize the library and make it
of real service to the community have borne abundant fruit. A modern charging system has been installed and the
books are now properly classified and arranged, so that any desired volume may be found with a minimum of effort.
Miss Shreve has also established a children's story hour, which has become a very popular source of entertainment
for the "kiddies." A tea room, with a matron in charge, has also been established in connection with
the library, and it has been greatly appreciated by those who have occasion to use it.
Miss Shreve attends the conventions of the State Librarians Association and keeps in close touch with the most
advanced ideas relative to the management of a free library. She is also secretary of the better book committee
of the County Parent Teachers Association and is a member of the Study Club and the New Century Club, and she is
a popular member of the circles in which she moves. She has proven herself thoroughly qualified for the position
which she holds, and her efforts to bring the library and the home into close touch with each other have been highly
commended by the board and others who are acquainted with her work.
An interesting sidelight on "the day of small things" of the library at Napa is contributed by Charles
Burrage, who probably may be regarded as the originator of the library movement in that city. As a lad Mr. Burrage
was an insatiable and omnivorous reader, devouring every book obtainable in his circle and always seeking more,
for books were then scarce in the community. His mother, who was interested in the stimulation and cultivation
of her son's tastes along this line, suggested to him that he and the other boys in his circle get together on
some plan for raising money for the purchase of more books. The lads pooled their talents and gave an entertainment
in the Methodist church, out of which they netted the neat sum of something more than one hundred dollars. The
ladies took the matter up, interested their husbands in the movement and undertook the task of raising an additional
fund for the creation of an organized public library and free reading room. Through these efforts a fund was created
sufficient to purchase several hundred volumes of standard works, the boys turned their contribution into this
fund, and the trustees of the new organization secured the use of the room over the old engine house, as noted
above, and thus began the now well organized and definitely established public library at Napa, which in compliment
to the generosity and public spirit of Mr. and Mrs. Goodman has for the past quarter of a century been operated
under the name of the Goodman Public Library, an institution in which the whole community takes a very pardonable
pride. It may also be mentioned that to the devoted labors of Miss Mary Boggs in that behalf is due much credit
for the gradually developing importance and usefulness of the library in the days when it was struggling to get
a proper start.
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Napa County, CA
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