In 1916, the Campfire Girls of Livonia spearheaded the effort to raise money to help establish the first public library in Livonia. They pledged $25 and challenged the community to match and exceed their contribution to make the library a reality.
Pledges poured in, and by 1917 over $700 was raised. The design of the library was also to include a public restroom, a major luxury and convenience in this era. Although funds were pledged by the village of Livonia and several men in the community, women’s organizations led the charge. Groups included the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the Eastern Star, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Ladies Literary, the Sons of Veterans Ladies Auxiliary, the Thursday Sewing Club, and dozens of individual women and girls.
The project was a huge success. In March of 1917, the Livonia Library was founded and women filled two of the five original positions of the Board of Trustees. The J. A. Piatte house was secured for the library building and in May of that year the Livonia Public Library opened with 627 books. During the latter part of 1919, Dr. Squires purchased the former home of Mary Hoyt on the corner of Main and Washington Street and the library moved into its first permanent home.
Livonia women’s achievement in raising funds and seeing the project through to fruition was especially remarkable in light of their simultaneous efforts to promote the passage of the 18th and 19th Constitutional Amendments (Prohibition and Woman Suffrage) and their essential work on the home front to support the troops during WWI.
Mrs. Frances Squires, a library trustee, volunteered to serve as librarian for the first five years. During this time a plan was developed for “traveling libraries” to go to every school district so children would have access to books. The library quickly outgrew its space. In 1925, Miss Rena Capwell became the first paid librarian, overseeing a collection of thousands of books.
In 1927, the building was torn down and replaced on the same site with a brick structure funded by Livonia native, Dr. Thurlow Patterson, as a memorial to his parents. The library was recently expanded and modernized to serve the needs of the community in the 21st century.