History of the Library

HISTORY OF THE BENSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Titusville Library Assocation

  • March 3, 1877 first meeting in Titusville to organize a library.
  • Wanted a free public reading room, so combined with the Christian Temperance Union.
  • 1880 group incorporated to create the Titusville Library Association.
  • 28 stockholders invested $100 per person (today would be $2,400 per person) to create the association. They were: J. Dorsey Angier, John D. Archibold, Dr. George W. Barr, Byron D. Benson, A.P. Bennett, A.H. Bronson, Henry Byrom, George A. Chase, E.O. Emerson, David Emery, R.D. Fletcher, R.E. Hopkins, Robert L. Kernochan, David McKelvey, John L. McKinney, George O. Moody, Joseph A. McNeill, Hugh O’Hare, A.N. Perrin, H.T. Pickering, A.S. Ralston, W.B. Roberts, Roger Sherman, Lewis B. Silliman, J.D. Sterrett, W.B. Sterrett, Joseph Stettheimer, Delos O. Wickham.
  • Board of Directors 1877-1902: J. Dorsey Angier, Dr. George W. Barr, Byron D. Benson, Henry Byrom, Col. John J. Carter, E.O. Emerson, David Emery, R.D. Fletcher, R.E. Hopkins, Robert L. Kernochan, David McKelvey, John L. McKinney, George O. Moody, Joseph A. McNeill, A.N. Perrin, H.T. Pickering, M.W. Quick, A.S. Ralston, E.T. Roberts, John Satterfield, Joseph Seep, W.B. Sterrett, Roger Sherman, Lewis B. Silliman, Delos O. Wickham.
  • Founder and president of Titusville Library Association was Byron D. Benson.
  • First librarian was William Joel Carpenter.
  • 1888-1902: located on second floor of City Hall until present building erected. Source: Titusville Herald 2/3/1984, Janet Stuckey

Byron Benson (1832-1888)

  • Founder and President of Tidewater Pipe Company (1878).
  • Created a 6-inch pipe that covered the greatest distances yet for oil transport.

Benson Memorial Library: Major changes through the years

  • In 1943, Dr. Edith Rowley insisted that the library director be present at board meetings and director has been since.
  • Until mid-1940s, if expenses ran over budget, board members would cover overages with personal checks.
  • In a partnership in the 1960s between Benson Memorial Library, Drake Well, and the Titusville Herald, the Titusville Herald was put on microfilm June 1865 to present.
  • State aid began in 1964.
  • Erie-Crawford District Library System began under Hilda Cotton.
  • Hilda Cotton pioneered a library expansion project near the end of her tenure, based off plans Dr. Edith Rowley, former director, began more than thirty years prior.
  • 1978 became part of newly-formed CCFLS (Crawford County Federated Library System).
  • In late 1970s, early 1980s, Janet Perkins Stuckey led the library’s involvement with the Titusville Community History Project; she also expanded library outreach.
  • First computers acquired in 1991.

Expansion Timeline (Titusville Herald 2/10/1984).

  • Began October 1975.
  • 15,000 books moved to first floor of Women’s Club (next door to library, now Mason Building) & 20,000 were moved downstairs into storage.
  • Carolyn V. Smith (Chair of Board) and Fund Drive Chairs James J. Harvey, John K. Henne, and Dr. Harry Kanhofer led the effort.
  • Summer 1976 began moving books back (all 20,000 downstairs had to be cleaned of dust and debris).
  • December 1976 15,000 brought back from Women’s Club – Titusville Junior High.
  • Student Council assisted and only took three hours.
  • Reopened January 3, 1977.
  • Closed soon after because problem with emergency generator.
  • Expansion dedicated March 6, 1977.
  • After reopen, library shut down for 14 days (along with all other Titusville services) due to extreme cold – reopened for one day and 1,100 materials were
    checked out in 6 hours.

1977 Expansion Major Players

  • Contractors: Craven & Co. (West Middlesex).
  • Architects: W.G. Eckles Co. (New Castle) & Pascoe Engineering Consultants (New Castle).
  • Electric: Etheridge Electric Co. (Meadville).
  • Excavating: Hasbrouck Sand & Gravel (Hydetown) & Titusville Supply Co.
  • Plaques: Lake Shore Markers (Erie).
  • Furnishings: Beco Interiors (Erie).

History of Library Directors

  1. Lucy D. Waterman, 1903-1910
  2. Lucy C. Grumbine, 1911-1916
  3. Viola Hively, 1917-1921
  4. Jean G. Thompson, 1921-1922 (from Cardiff, Wales)
  5. Jessie Dunn, 1923-1936 (total of 33 years service in various roles)
  6. Jean G. Thompson, 1936-1942
  7. Dr. Edith Rowley, 1943-1951 (prev. Director of Allegheny College library for 50 years)
  8. Ruth Doty Smith, 1951-1955 (got PhD in medical psychology & became cancer researcher)
  9. Hilda Cotton, 1955-1975
  10. Constance L. Swanson, 1975-1976
  11. Janet Perkins Stuckey, 1976-1983
  12. Carole K. Collins, May 1983 – October 1983
  13. Edith Tyson, November 1984 – April 1985
  14. Barbara Auchter, September 1985 – June 1988
  15. Gail Myer, June 1988 – March 2013
  16. Tara Bartley, April 2013 – April 2016
  17. Justin Hoenke, June 2016 – present

Current Staff (order of hire):

  • Mary Harper Whitehill, 1979
  • Lisa Davidson Kellogg, 1991
  • Charlotte Bayless Koller, 2010
  • Sharon Beers Savitz, 2012
  • Justin Hoenke, 2015
  • Jessica Hilburn, 2015
  • Rebecca Stahl, 2016
  • Timothy Wolfe, 2018
  • Kaitlyn Griffin, 2018

Created by Jessica Hilburn – 6/10/17
Updated by Jessica Hilburn – 1/31/19