As you walk into the library, you might notice a new display case next to the Bill Wallace display. The new case, still in progress, contains items and documents relating to the people and events during the early years of this library. Founded in 1905 as a Carnegie Library (the current building was constructed on the same site in 1964), the Chickasha Public Library was the first free public library in what was then Indian Territory, and it has been operating continuously for 116 years.
On the top shelf is a copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which was one of the first books added to the library’s collection in 1905. There is also a photograph of Sallie Thompson (1870-1936), who served as the first, fourth, and eighth librarian of the Carnegie Library between 1905 and 1929. At times she was the only staff member; she also occasionally worked without pay in order to keep the library open. A small square photo next to Sallie Thompson depicts school children arriving with donated books for the opening of the Carnegie Library on March 23, 1905. This photo was taken from the second floor of the library building.
The next shelf contains a handwritten librarian’s report from 1907, a postcard showing the Carnegie Library, a photograph of library board president Stella Brown (1861-1911), as well as Stella Brown’s 1906 resignation letter, in which she called the library “a great success.”
The photograph on the third shelf is Frances Manby Hamilton (1860-1919), a prominent library supporter who greeted people as they entered the Carnegie Library for the first time on March 23, 1905. Frances Hamilton is looking in the direction of the front door so that her photograph can continue to greet people as they enter the library. A small paper brochure from 1962 proclaims “A New Library for Chickasha” and gave information to the public about the need for a new building because the Carnegie building had fallen into disrepair and was unsafe. Next to the brochure is an invitation to the opening of the new Chickasha Public Library when the building was completed in 1964. There are also a few newspaper clippings about the library’s beginnings.
The very bottom shelf contains the first accession book where Sallie Thompson recorded the donated books that made up the entire initial collection, as well as handwritten record books containing receipts, notes, expenses, and other daily tasks, from the 1930s through the 1950s.
Finally, there is a framed document on the wall between the display cases. This was from the very first meeting of the Carnegie Library Committee in April 1904, where the women’s club members who had applied for and received a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie began planning and organizing their fundraising and public awareness campaigns. The process of maintaining, adapting, and growing the library with new information, formats, books, technology, and resources is an ongoing process that continues to this day.
The documents and photos currently on display are just a small part of the treasures that have been found in dusty boxes and drawers. Everything from letters, library board meeting minutes, notes scrawled on the back of envelopes, financial records, newspaper clippings, receipts, and book acquisitions can give clues that illuminate the daily life of the library as experienced by its staff, as well as the public. Many of these documents were used as primary sources for research while writing the history of this library (available to check out or to purchase for #10) and are tangible representations of the past and the historical context in which the library existed.
The purpose of the history display is to make these photos and documents available to everyone so that anyone who visits the Chickasha Public Library can learn about and appreciate its role in the intellectual and cultural life of this community during the past 116 years. This library continues to build on that historical foundation while also continuing to evolve to meet the informational and recreational needs of the community.
BLURB–This week, Brande discusses the process to request an item at the Chickasha Public Library.
Last week a friend of mine told me about how the book Jaws by Peter Benchley was the book that made him fall in love with books, reading, and eventually horror movies. I have always felt that reading the book that made a person a reader is a bonding experience, so I trundled down to my local library to check it out. Ok, well, I went to work the next day. He’s a neat guy and all, but I am not going to do something crazy and put on shoes just to read a fella’s favorite book.
The next day I arrived at work a bit early to grab Jaws before I was on the clock. To my dismay, there was no copy on the shelf. I checked the catalog because certainly, we have a copy. However, I found that we did not. So I did what every proper literary heroine did-threw myself upon the closest divan and wept bitter tears of disappointment. After drying my eyes with a lace-trimmed handkerchief, I submitted a material request for the 1974 bestseller.
At the Chickasha Public Library, patrons can submit material requests for items that the library does not currently own. Let’s explore the process.
The staff at the front desk will take your request. We need your name and contact information, of course, to contact you when your item arrives. Most importantly, we will need the title of the book you are looking for or the general topic. You can also ask for titles in different formats like audiobooks on CD or Playaway. We can also take requests for the Oklahoma Virtual Library, but those items may be a bit more difficult to find.
After staff has taken your request, it is reviewed by the Director or Youth Services Librarian. They consider each request and choose to add it to the library collection via purchase or to use an interlibrary loan to get the item. In either case, they use the Material Selection Policy to decide.
Requests purchased for the collection are items that fill in gaps in our collection, like books on stock market trading or bathroom remodeling. We have also purchased requested items that continue popular series like the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book (Big Shot will be released October 26, 2021). Requests also help us complete the series as well. This Fall, we received many requests for The Duke and I from the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, prompting us to check that series and purchase the few titles from that series that were missing.
When the Library Director or Youth Services Librarian decides not to purchase a request, it will be inter-library loaned. Inter-library is a process where we contact other libraries who own the title and ask to borrow that item for our customers. There are a few reasons that an item would be inter-library loaned over purchasing. The item may be unavailable to purchase, which is often the case for older titles that haven’t reached “perpetually in print” status. Other items that we would inter-library loan are titles that don’t quite meet our material selection policy. Some examples are local history books for other states; we appreciate historical preservation as much as the next library, but a history about the founding families of Chautauqua County, New York, would not be a reasonable purchase for the Chickasha Public Library.
Once a requested item has arrived, it is added to our system to be checked out by customers. Both purchased, and inter-library loan items have a two-week checkout.
The Chickasha Public Library strives to curate a collection that will entertain and educate the public. We recognize that there are times when a customer needs a book that we do not own. The library will do the best we can to obtain any item for our customers, however, unfortunately some items just aren’t available.
The Chickasha Public Library is again partnering with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to provide no-cost meals to kids ages 1-18. The Summer Food Program will kick off June 1. This year there will be two locations children and their caregivers can pick up meals in Chickasha.
Meals can be picked up Monday through Friday at the following times and locations:
- 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Washita Valley Park, located at 1500 S. Henderson St.
- 12 to 1 p.m. at the Chickasha Public Library, located at 527 W Iowa Ave.
There is no income verification or proof of residency required to receive meals. For additional information, call the Library at 405-222-6075.
On Saturday, July 17th, the Chickasha Public Library will be hosting Sing a New Song 2: Changing Lives Through Music. Designed for adults and teens and presented by Peter Markes, the goal of this workshop is to develop techniques for songwriting lyrics through a process called sensory writing. The free, one-hour program will begin at 10 a.m., and registration is required due to limited seating.
Peter Markes (pronounced Marcus) is an award-winning music educator and performer based out of Oklahoma City. Audiences are mesmerized by his one-man band live-looping performances where he takes his 5-string electric violin to create and build pop hits from scratch! Also a guitarist and singer-songwriter, Peter has written and released numerous songs in the folk-pop genre, and his debut solo album, I Have A Dream, can be heard digitally worldwide. He is also a member of the band Kyle Dillingham & Horseshoe Road and has performed and taught in over thirty countries.
Workshop attendees will learn about the process of lyric writing and how that can be used to create songs. The information will be accessible to everyone, regardless of the amount of previous musical experience.
“Music is an essential part of the human experience,” said Michelle Skinner, a Chickasha Public Library employee. “It is a universal language that connects us all together, as well as a powerful means of communication and self-expression.”
Learning musical skills has many mental and physical health benefits as well. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. Learning and creating new music, such as songwriting, keeps the brain active, helps to preserve memory function, and helps with language and verbal literacy. By engaging the brain in a variety of ways, music enhances both emotional and cognitive functioning. This workshop is a great way to learn about and explore new forms of self-expression while also having fun and developing new forms of creativity.
This program is funded through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries with a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The program will be in person at the Chickasha Public Library, located at 527 W. Iowa. Registration is required due to limited seating. For more information and to register for Sing a New Song: Changing Lives Through Music, visit or call the Chickasha Public Library at 405-222-6075.
The Chickasha Public Library is offering programs for all ages throughout the summer. Mark your calendars preregistration begins May 10th, with programs kicking off in June. You can register for the Summer Reading program using Beanstack or in-person at the Chickasha Public Library located at 527 W Iowa Ave. All programs are free, and there will be a variety of program types for all ages. Participants will set a reading goal, track their minutes spent reading, and earn incentives over the summer. The tracking can all be done online or by using the Beanstack mobile app. There is also an option to track minutes using paper and sticker logs.
The Chickasha Public Library will have programs for everyone this summer. There will be in-person programs (registration required each week), stories on the radio, take and make activities and virtual program. The Summer Reading program will also include virtual and in-person performers.
Please note that in-person events held at the library require registration, with multiple days to choose from each week. Details for each age group are linked below. If you have any questions, please call 405-222-6075.
Summer Reading Program age groups
New Readers Summer Reading for ages 3-5