The City of Bandon was incorporated in 1891. A lending library was begun in 1893 by Mrs. George Williams in the store owned by the Williams and Frank Rupert but it operated only about a year.
Michael Breuer, a local shoemaker, and John Chase, manager of the Bandon Woolen Mill, decided there should be a library in Bandon as an alternate activity to the saloons and brothels. In 1899, they rented the lower part of the building owned by David Stitt, publisher of the Bandon Recorder newspaper. They furnished light and heat, and other community members donated books and lumber for book shelves. There was no librarian or custodian. Borrowers were on the honor system, and patrons wrote their names and book titles in a register. When books began to disappear, the project was abandoned.
A supervised reading room in the Lorenz building (in 1911) was the next attempt at a library. Professor Harry Hopkins, J. Ira Sidwell and the Reverend Harry Hartranft were the founders. The members of the Bible Class took turns monitoring the reading room. When the job became too much, they requested the public take over the responsibility.
The library’s time had come, and the reading room evolved into a city library with Amelia Henry as the first librarian. Miss Henry served as librarian for 28 years, from 1913 to 1942. She saw the library survive in the June 11, 1914 fire as the Lorenz Building was not damaged. In June of 1919, the library was moved to the Oakes building, which was northwest of the old 1st National Bank building (now the Masonic Temple). Unfortunately, the Oakes building was destroyed in the September 26, 1936 fire. Everything was lost.
The library was then located temporarily in a large tent, 14 x 14 feet, vacated by the State Police after the 1936 fire. The tent had a board floor and a conical sheet iron stove in the center, and the National Guard brought a cot, mattress, blankets and a wash basin for Miss Henry, who lived in the tent with the books. The books (500 of them) were donated and delivered from Salem right after the devastating fire by Miss Harriet C. Long, who was the state librarian at the time. In her report after her visit to Bandon, Miss Long stated that the Library had had a collection of about 5,400 books and for many years had one of the highest per capita circulations in the state.
In 1937, the library was moved into the Old City Hall building at the comer of Filmore and 2nd (Highway 101). It had about 840 square feet of space, contained 2,668 books and served a population of 2,600. By 1949, the collection had grown to 3,400 volumes. After Miss Henry’s long service was over, the librarians were Mrs. Bessie Young (1942-1950), Miss Ruth Petty (1950-1959) and Mrs. Alicia Leuthold (1959 – 1969).
In 1970, the library moved to the New City Hall building at 555 Highway 101. At the time, the library had 11,718 books, served a population of 4,548 and had 2,106 square feet of space. The librarian at the time of the move was Beverly Martin (1969 – 1973). Following Miss Martin were Miss Jean Streets (1973 – 1975), Miss Joyce Sutherlin (1975 – 1977), Miss Judy Romans (1977 – 1982) and Mr. Kevin Feeney (1982 – 1986).
The statistics for the 1984 show a collection of 22,000 books, a circulation of 72,000 and a service area of Bandon and the surrounding area of approximately 5,000. An addition to the library, begun in October 1986 and completed in February 1987, more than doubled the existing space to a total of 4,441 square feet. There were an estimated 24,130 book at this time, and the librarian was Mr. Tim Wheeler (1986 – 1987).
Miss Judy Romans returned in September 1987 for a second period of service. In 1993, the Bandon Library Development Project (a newly formed support foundation under the dedicated leadership of Rich Hamel and Merle Logan) and a very active Friends group started planning for a new library. After 10 years of hard work and fund-raising, and financed entirely by private donations and grants, the new library complex was begun in 2003 and completed in 2004.
In 2004, Ms. Dierdre Krumper became the library’s director at the newly opened Bandon Public Library, located in the Bandon City Park next to the Sprague Theatre.
-Compiled from various sources by
Marilyn Sass – May 1995 and
updated in February 2007