Santa Cruz County History - Libraries & Schools

The History of the Santa Cruz Public Library System: Part 2-- 1881-1904
by Margaret Souza

The Public Library, 1881-1904

When the Library was transferred to the City of Santa Cruz, there were about three thousand volumes in the library. Eight hundred seventy-nine volumes were taken from storage in the schoolhouse and moved to the second floor of the City Hall on January 3, 1882. The City Treasurer and Collector was placed in charge until April, 1882, when the following Board of Trustees was elected: A. A. Taylor, D. Tuthill, A. J. Hinds, Robert Effey, and George W. Place. They appointed Peter R. Hinds Librarian of the Santa Cruz Free Library.

The book which contains the Board Meeting records of the Library Association and of the City's second Library Board of Trustees does not have any record of the meetings of the first Board of Trustees although they spent $327.50. It was while the Library was under their control that the first library tax levy was established. On October 2, 1882, the tax was set at five cents on each one hundred dollars of assessment.

The second Board of Trustees was elected on April 14, 1884, and took office on the following May 6. Those elected were: Dr. P. B. Fagan, F. W. Bliss, E. Spaulsbery, C. L. Anderson, and E. L. Williams. Peter Hinds continued as the Librarian. The trustees found $1,115.72 in the fund.

Trustees Fagan, Anderson, and Bliss were authorized to investigate the costs of obtaining more suitable rooms for the library. They decided that moving was unwise.

In August, 1884, the private library of the Farmer's Club was incorporated into the City Library. The Library Board of Trustees agreed to the conditions set by the Farmer's Club. The members of the Farmer's Club were given the same privileges of library usage as city resident members for the duration of the merger.

There were several attempts to consolidate or purchase the library of the Odd Fellows. This had been considered by the Library Association in December, 1879. By February 5, 1885, Dr. C. L. Anderson had visited the IOOF Library and found that there was a large number of books which the Santa Cruz Free Library could use. The Odd Fellows offered to sell their library for three hundred dollars. A communication came from the Odd Fellows later in the year inviting the Board of Trustees to select such books from the IOOF Library as they deemed necessary and the Board was to make an offer for the books. There are no records to indicate whether these proposals were accepted.

Trustees D. C. Clark, C. L. Anderson, and H. Fay were appointed in May, 1888, to consider the advisability of selecting another location for the library. This committee was authorized to select a suitable room for the library in February, 1889, and to engage it provided the rent did not exceed twenty-five dollars per month, and they were to provide the necessary furniture. By March, the library had been moved to the first floor of the City Hall.

The Trustees met on March 1, 1889, to"transact such other business as was made necessary on account of removal of Library"[1] and to elect a Librarian. Major W. T. Kittredge of Santa Rosa was selected at a salary of thirty-five dollars per month. Miss Minerva Waterman was elected his assistant.

Major Kittredge began the work of cataloging the books he found in the Santa Cruz Library. The Board of Trustees set this policy for handling new books:

  1. The library was to be kept open while the numbering was done;
  2. All books were to be numbered before they were lent out;
  3. Miss Waterman or another competent person was to be employed to do the numbering.

Miss Waterman finished the work of cataloging. In February, 1896, Mr. Hinds made the following proposal: "That if the trustees would furnish copy, he would have printed a catalogue free of cost, he to be allowed to insert advertising matter." The trustees authorized him to print 1200 copies of the catalog. Then in 1899, Mr. George C. Bacon offered to print 1500 copies of the catalog; his payment was space for advertisements and $30.76. This catalog, which listed all 1300 volumes, was to be sold by the Librarian for ten cents a copy.

It was while Major Kittredge was Librarian that the "open shelf" system came into practice in the Santa Cruz Library.

"It was not an easy task to formulate a system of library work suited to our city. Fortunately it was so simplified that "open shelves" came into use without seriously causing loss or confusion, and with a minimum of assistance from the librarian or annoyance to the borrower."[2]

Miss Minerva Waterman, who started as assistant to Major Kittredge, became Librarian on June 6, 1890, after the Major resigned. Miss Waterman and Major Kittredge were both nominated for the position of Librarian on June 3, 1890; Trustee Kirby nominated Miss Waterman, while Trustee Anderson renominated Major Kittredge. Elected with a vote of four to one, Miss Waterman was to begin her duties on July 1. But Major Kittredge resigned on June 5, effective that day, and Miss Waterman became Librarian on June 6, 1890.

Trustee Linscott was commissioned in October, 1894, to see what the City Council would do regarding the library's move to other quarters. The Council agreed to pay the first eight months' rent (two hundred fifty dollars) and to furnish the necessary fuel and electric lights in the Hotaling Building, because the "city government decided that the city hall was not large enough for all the municipal offices and the library too."[3]The Library Board resolved

"to enter into an agreement with A. P. Hotaling to lease the premises hereinafter described for a period of five years, on the following terms. The first two months of occupancy of the premises by the Library rent free, the next seven months at monthly rental of thirty dollars. Three years following at monthly rental of forty dollars, and the following or fifth year at monthly rental of fifty dollars, by votes of Anderson, Bliss, Linscott & Clark. Noes, none, absent Williams.

On motion of trustee Clark, seconded by trustee Bliss, a committee of three was appointed to determine with Mr. Hotaling's Architect, the arrangement of the new rooms. And to attend to all the arrangements and details pertaining to the removal of the Library at the proper time. Committee appointed -Clark, Linscott, Bliss."[4]

The move was made to this building later known as the St. George Hotel. Miss Waterman was very pleased with the rooms: " . . . everything is convenient and right under my eye. . ."[5]

But it became evident that the Library and hotel could not remain harmoniously, so another move was considered.[6] Mr. E. H. Garrett proposed in March, 1899, that the library move to the Williamson and Garrett building soon to be erected by the firm. Library Board President C. L. Anderson was instructed to write to A. P. Hotaling to determine his plans in extending the library's lease. Mr. Hotaling's agent, Mr. Miller, told Miss Waterman that the rent would be forty dollars per month instead of fifty as the lease called for.

Mr. Garrett presented plans for the library in the new building and explained in some detail. He said the rent would be fifty dollars per month for a period of ten years. The light fixtures, closets, grates, back stairway, skylights, etc., were to be arranged satisfactorily. This proposal was accepted and the rent was to commence on February or March 1, 1900.

In May, 1899, Trustees Anderson, Clark, and Williams were appointed to enter into an agreement with Williamson and Garrett. The lease was to be drawn with the terms "in accordance with the understanding had at [the] meeting held March 28th, 1899."[7]

The library was closed between January 15 and February 1, 1900, so that F. R. Cummings, lowest bidder, could move the library shelving. The rooms in the Williamson and Garrett building were double the space of the previous building. The two large Reading Rooms which faced Pacific Avenue were connected with the Library by arched doors. There was a small room on the north side for the trustees, while the main room was large and commodious. All the rooms were pleasant with plenty of light and ventilation. "Williamson and Garrett have ever been mindful of our comfort and liberal in our requirements."[8]

The library remained in the Williamson and Garrett building until it moved into the Carnegie Free Library in 1904.

>>Part 3: 1901-1904


  1. Minutes of the Meetings of the Santa Cruz Library Board of Trustees, March 1, 1889, p. 69.
  2. "Semi-Centennial of the Public Library," Santa Cruz Surf, June 6, 1918, p. 2.
  3. Ibid. "Looking Backward over Library Life in Santa Cruz," Santa Cruz Surf, Sept. 28, 1903.
  4. Minutes of the Meetings of the Santa Cruz Library Board of Trustees, Oct. 2, 1894, p. 119.
  5. Minerva Waterman, Monthly Report to the Board of Trustees, June, 1895.
  6. "Looking Backward over Library Life in Santa Cruz," Santa Cruz Surf, Sept. 28, 1903.
  7. Minutes of the Meetings of the Santa Cruz Library Board of Trustees, May 2, 1899, p. 148.
  8. "Looking Backward over Library Life in Santa Cruz," Santa Cruz Surf, Sept. 28, 1903.

Copyright 1970 Margaret Ann Souza. Reproduced with the permission of the author. This article is a chapter from an unpublished Master's thesis, The History of the Santa Cruz Public Library System, San Jose State College, August 1970.

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downtown, libraries, St. George Hotel


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