Chapter 1

The Beginning Years


Myrna Griffith

“Who doesn’t love a library? It is a place you can go in any town and discover the world.” – Pat MacEnulty

This is a recent day quote that was true for the town of Woodward in the 1930s and 1940s when its public library was born.  One early librarian wrote, “Many people around Woodard like to read.  They felt the need for more books than could individually [be bought] and several people around town loaned out their books.”  The very first library was started by the Government Public Library Works Project, known as WPA Library Project, in the 1930’s.  Betty Perry was in charge of the library which was located over her father’s clothing store, known as Jess R. Perry Clothier or The Clothier.  The store was located where the Post Office is today.


In the Woodward Enterprise issues March 28 and April 4, 1935 a ‘Library Benefit Program’ was held on Tuesday, April 2, 1935 to raise money for the library.  The proceeds were used for ‘certain supplies and utilities necessary in the library’.


In 1946, a few ladies approached then mayor, Rudy Hurlock, who became influential in acquiring town money to start and support the library.


On January 7, 1946, the Town Council motioned and seconded ‘that an ordinance be drafted’ that ‘stipulated that 5 library trustees be named for maintenance of a Library for the town of Woodward, with full power to act as outlined by the Code of Iowa’.  Madeline Rue Smith, Josephine Crum, Mina Robbins, Leota Hooker, and Lorena Hanson were then appointed and were to continue until the expiration of their respective terms.  During the Town Council meeting February 4, 1946 the council men wrote the Ordinance for the Library Trustees.


According to the Woodward Enterprise January 15, 1946, page 6, [Josephine] Crum and [Leota] Hooker, were to serve six years; [Mina] Robbins four years; and [Madeline Rue] Smith two years.  The board meetings were held the first Tuesday evening of each month.  Permanent committees were: Books, Finance, Buildings and Grounds.  Mrs. John (Mabel) Ramsey was chosen as librarian.


The library began on the bottom floor1 of the Fire House2, next to City Hall3, then moved upstairs. (February WPL Trivia Question-three part answer)


January 17, 1946, p. 1 the Woodward Enterprise publishes “The Woodward Library board has announced the receipt of a number of donations of cash for the library fund”.  The donation total was $18 which came from the Beulah Study Club, Cass Farm Bureau, Xenia Study Club, Des Moines Township Farm Bureau, and Beaver Township. This represents not only the town but the surrounding area.


February 14, 1946 the Woodward Enterprise announces in the headlines on the front page Free Public Library Opens.  The article reports the library is open Saturday 2 to 4 p.m., Monday 3 to 5 p.m., Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  The Wednesday hours were to accommodate the school children coming to Woodward on the school bus.


‘Mrs. Jack [Martha] Ramsey the librarian gave the following rules:


1.  For the present time, only one book will be allowed each person at any one time.

2.  Everyone is responsible for the loss or damage of any kind, as with any other library.

3. Absolute quiet in the library must be maintained.’



March 23, 1946 p. 3 an article in the Woodward Enterprise lists the titles and authors of 21 new books.  In April, Mrs. Ramsey broke her leg when she was struck by a car driven by a fellow Woodward citizen.  She was taken to the hospital in Perry.  The small bone below the knee was broken.  Mrs. C.M. (Mabel) Porter served as the librarian during her absence.


July 3, 1946 the newspaper reports more new books, especially best sellers, have been added to the library; 25 books for adults and 23 new books for children.  Again, August 1, 1946 newspaper reports another addition of 54 new books; 28 for adults and 26 for children.  Many were donations from the citizens of Woodward.


This was the year of the closing of the second oldest mine in Iowa closed.  The mine was named Dallas permanently closed. The mine was temporarily on May 23, but closed permanently the week of September 19, 1946.  The mine employed many families in Woodward, Moran, Granger, Madrid, and other surrounding towns.


September 26, 1946 the Woodward Enterprise reports ‘301 people registered at the library.  109 are girls, 82 are boys, and 110 adults.  Thirteen people on the list had moved away.  Again, 45 more books have been donated; 19 adult books and 26 children’s books.


Stop signs were put out for short intervals of time during the day when children were going to and from school, in the morning, two times during the noon hour and after school.  The signs were placed ‘on Main at Hookers corner and at the Sun theatre corner’.  The city was painting the crosswalks at this intersection(s) for the safety of the children walking to and from school.


Again, in December the Woodward Enterprise reported 26 new books (16 for adults and 10 for children) were added to the shelves.  The library also received a gift subscription of “Better Homes and Gardens” from Mrs. Kenneth Balduchi.


This was the first full year of the Woodward Public Library, known in 1946 as the Woodward Free Public Library and a few events occurring around the community.

2021 Firehouse.jpg