History of Eckel Memorial Library

            The first library in Oakland had its beginning in 1935.  The Women’s Civic Improvement Club, an organization which hoped to accumulate money to help build a city auditorium in which to house a library formed a library committee and got the idea growing.

            Penny Cheney, the owner of the Golden Rule gave free access to the basement of the building for the housing of the library.  The people of Oakland were called upon to help provide the books.  Whoever had books to donate left them on the curb of the street outside their house, and a committee of women volunteers went around and gathered up all the books.  Everything offered, weather suitable or not, was taken and this became the nucleus of the present library.

            Mrs. Etta Alexander was the first librarian and her salary was 25 cents an hour.  To borrow books from the first library a patron had to pay 5 cents for a card which entitled them to check out 20 books.  The fine for an overdue book was 1 penny a day.

            The library was later moved to about the Oakland Savings Bank and the librarians there was Genevia Hilderbrand and Elsie Standeven.  In 1940 the library moved again to above the Citizens State Bank and Mrs. Frank Eckels became the librarian.

            In 1946 mayor Robert Pennseton passed a 1 ½ mil levy to the residents of Oakland to help finance the libraries’ needs.  New by-laws were formulated and Oakland residents received their book free of charge.  The librarian’s salary was increased from $12.00 per month to $25.00 per month.  The library board paid $12.00 per month for rent of the building and $1.50 for janitorial services.

            The bank requested that the library be moved from their building, so in 1951 it was moved into the Acorn building, and Margaret Thompson was librarian.  Another move in 1959 to where the Tropics used to be found Mrs. Ruben Miller as librarian.  In 1962 the new and present library facility was built.  Other librarians over the years include Mrs. Elaine Sivers, Mrs. Mary Vieth, and Margaret Thompson who served for almost 18 years.

            The money for construction of the present library was made by Frank J. Eckels. Mr. Eckels was a motel and café operator who was fatally shot in a holdup December 3, 1958.  His $80,000 bequest was used to build the present facility and to purchase equipment and many new books.

            The library received $135,000 cash bequest from the estate of Frank Foreman.