Springville Library Celebrates Centennial Birthday

Springville librarian Donna Ellis displays proclamation.

Old women, young children and a few good men, the backbone of library supporters, made for a full house as Springville Branch Library celebrated its centennial birthday on Saturday, Jan. 14. A big blue bookworm book chocolate cake and book covered cupcakes supplied by Lindsay Library Friends provided refreshments for the attendees.

Librarian Donna Ellis accepted a proclamation from the Tulare County Board of Supervisors celebrating the “lifelong learning for all” that enrich users lives. Springville library is one of 16 branch libraries in the Tulare County Library System.

The first person I spoke with was author, illustrator, poet and former teacher Sylvia Ross who invited me to join her at her author’s table where one could purchase anthologies to which she contributed, her children’s books and Ross’s latest contribution, a 390-page novel, her first, titled Acts of Kindness, Acts of Contrition and called “A Love Story” although Ross admitted that it was in large part memoir which is how it reads so far (I’m up to Chapter 11).

Messrs Monte Reyes, Bill Horst and Jeff Edwards presented a reenactment of the early days in Porterville and Springville. Reyes played the part of Royal Porter Putnam, fresh off serving as co-chair for Porterville’s sesquicentennial which they celebrated as Royal Porter Putnam Day and where Horst was in charge of the reproduction Civil War Cannon which he blasted eight times. Edwards, the moderator or interviewer, has been the proprietor of Edwards Studio, Main Street’s oldest business established in 1947, and the collector of historical photos and negatives of Porterville of which he has more than 50,000—many reproduced in some 50 books he has published on local history. He also had a book table with books available for purchase at the event.

Horst played the part of Springville founder Avon Coburn with aplomb, bringing titters from the audience when he spoke of Old Man Hubbs’ wariness of drinking scotch and soda using water from the town’s soda springs, famous for its restorative properties, but which turned black when mixed with the liquor. This writer happens to own and live in Hubbs’ house which he built of solid lumber planks inside and out in 1880. Horst told how the lumber business brought the train spur from Porterville to Springville and increased tourism to its soda springs.

Meanwhile, in the children’s area, Lindsay elementary school librarian and thespian Cheryl Cook read aloud with great drama to children of all ages.

Lifelong Lindsay resident and local historian Virginia Radeleff, whose own history is intermingled with that of the library, entertained the gathering with her first person tales.

It took a request from seven prominent residents to get a library deposit station in the Springville Hotel in March 1911. The following year it was moved to the Roschdale Store and open six days a week. In 1914 they tried the Post Office as a location, but the library moved again in 1917 to the store of Peabody & Hubbs. The following year it came full circle back to the hotel where it would stay for more than a decade with Mrs. Minnie Elster as custodian.

Then, in 1929 the Radeleffs took over when Juanita Radeleff was appointed custodian and the library was moved into their home where she operated the town switchboard. Virginia was 10 years old. Can you imagine being privy to all the town’s telephone calls and housing its library—a stimulating environment indeed for a child in a remote rural environment. Virginia said the library was just a small bookcase with maybe five shelves and once a month a big wooden box of books would come from the county to be exchanged with the previous load. She said her mom found it kind of a nuisance to have borrowers underfoot but the bookcase stayed for more than a decade before being moved to the variety store. A real estate office was home from 1947-1972 before the library got its own building and present home at Sequoia Dawn senior citizen complex, a record 40-year tenure to date.

Also present at the festivities were former Springville librarian Carolyn Giddings and retired Lindsay librarian Deanna Pettus representing the Tulare County Historical Society. This was the library’s second 100th birthday celebration, the first one being on June 10, 2010.

Author Sylvia Ross displays her books.

Historical reenactment participants Bill Horst, Monte Reyes and Jeff Edwards.

Springville Library building at Sequoia Dawn

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