Celebrating 125 years of Merrill libraries in March
Merrill Public Library opened in old City Hall on March 25, 1891, and was renamed T.B. Scott Free Library less than a month later. Next month, you’re invited to be part of a community-wide celebration of 125 years of library service in Merrill.
Merrill’s vibrant business community has supported T.B. Scott Free Library in many ways over the decades. It’s therefore fitting that local businesses throughout Merrill are sharing in the library’s 125-year anniversary celebration.
From March 13-19 (Sunday to Saturday), over 60 local businesses are showing their appreciation for T.B. Scott Library by giving you a discount, premium, or other special deal, or by contributing prizes for our prize drawing. Look for the library’s full-page advertisement in an upcoming issue of the Foto News or stop at the library for more details.
To get your special deal at a participating business, all you need to do is show a library card—from T.B. Scott Free Library, or anywhere in the world. When you show your library card, you’ll also earn a ticket entering you into a prize drawing when you bring it to T.B. Scott Library. You can also earn prize drawing entries by participating in library activities, including a library trivia scavenger hunt, during that week.
Prizes are still being assembled, but will include an iPad, reading baskets featuring books or a Kindle, prize baskets with gift certificates from local businesses, and more. Prizewinners will be announced live on WJMT-AM 730 The Patriot’s “Our Town” program at 8:45 a.m. on Friday, March 25 (our 125th anniversary), and notified by phone.
Merrill’s long library history was sparked by lumberman, Wisconsin state senator, and Merrill’s first mayor, Thomas Blythe Scott, who left $10,000 (easily hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s currency) to the city of Merrill for the establishment of a public library when he died in 1886.
T.B. Scott Free Library rapidly outgrew its City Hall quarters, and Andrew Carnegie’s assistance was requested to fund a freestanding library structure. While accepting Carnegie money was not an easy decision—since doing so required a promise to support the library at a rate of 10% of his donation each year—Merrill’s city council accepted a $17,500 Carnegie gift for a new building which opened to the public on Aug. 10, 1911.
In 1969, a one-story addition to the library was built. That structure was replaced by the present three-story addition, which was opened to the public in August 2001.
As Louis Claude, one of the architects who designed Merrill’s Carnegie library building, worked with and for Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, it’s no accident that T.B. Scott Free Library is one of only 3% of Carnegie libraries built in Wright’s distinctive Prairie School style. In 1973, T.B. Scott Free Library became a Wisconsin registered landmark, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
T.B. Scott Free Library has a tradition of high quality service for a community of its size. Recognizing the area’s strong German heritage, the library began in 1899 to purchase German-language materials, for which it kept statistics as late as 1946. Meanwhile, English classes for German-speakers were offered at the library in 1905. Starting in 1899, the library supported providing books to rural Lincoln County residents, a tradition that continues to the present day. T.B. Scott Free Library has twice been named Wisconsin Library of the Year, in 1977 and 2002, by the Wisconsin Library Association.
For 125 years, T.B. Scott Free Library has served the Merrill community with information and enlightenment. Join us in celebrating the past, present, and future of T.B. Scott Free Library and the human potential unleashed there every day!