Our journey began in the spring of 1881 with an idea of providing a free
library in the community of Whitehall. To raise funds, a ‘dime
entertainment’ was held along with several maple sugar parties. Now if
you are wondering what ‘dime entertainment’ and maple sugar parties are?
Well, what better place to research and read about them, than our library?
In June of that year, a library association was formed and the first order
for books was placed. Authors of that order included Charles Dickens,
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Oliver
Wendell Holmes. By the end of the year, one hundred and fifty-two
books had been accumulated.
From that modest beginning, the library has grown to over 16,000 books
today. Imagine! Inbetween, the library has undergone many changes and
improvements. For instance, on March 29, 1899, Whitehall Village
President Charles Harden appointed the first official library board
consisting of nine members. That board’s first appropriation for funds
consisted of $500. An additional $100 was donated by the Town of
Lincoln. And so began annual budgeting – a process today that has our
library’s annual budget surpassing $80,000.
Imagine! J.O. Melby donated a 24-foot by 50-foot lot on the west side of
Main Street for the first library building. It was constructed, then officially
dedicated on September 14, 1899. Today, our library comprises more than
2,100 square feet, located in the Whitehall City Center on Park Street.
In more than one-hundred years, the library has been served by ten
directors. Mr. O. Rogan was appointed director in 1899. He also served as
janitor. Mrs. O. Rogan became the second director from 1904 to 1908.
Miss A. F. Chaffee served from 1908 to 1934. Our fourth library director
was Mrs. William Lieberg from 1934 to 1944, at which time Mrs. Hulda
Hanson took over. The exact length of her tenure is unknown, but she was
followed by Mrs. Luke who served a tenure as the sixth librarian that
spanned three decades until her reirement in 1975. Mary Pientok assumed
the duties at that time, retiring in 1997. The library board then appointed
Kay Leonard as director. She passed away in 1999, and was followed by a
period that saw the library served by two interim directors, and a number
Our current director is Amanda Hegge, who started in April of 2012. Amanda earned her Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma with an emphasis in public libraries and archives. Prior to becoming the director of the Whitehall Public Library, Amanda worked at the Western History Collections at the University of Oklahoma and for a private rare book collector in the Oklahoma City metro-area.