On March 8, 1920, the Palouse Public Library had its beginning when a social club of 20 women, the Xenodican Club, became a member of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Membership in this Federation required a club to have a definite aim of service to their community. After careful consideration, the Xenodican members chose to build a public library for Palouse.
This was a large undertaking as the club had neither money nor books. The Episcopal Guild members offered the club about 20 books which were in the old Parish House and also a room in which to start the library. Members asked permission from the City Council to get donations for the Library. Then the women went from door to door asking people to give books. The response was generous.
Late in 1920, the City Council offered the use of the City Hall, a Block north of Main Street, for a library location. Books were moved to the new site by the armloads, by children’s wagons and by a Dodge touring car. Lumber was purchased to build shelves and each member donated her share of the cost of curtains and rods. So, a library was born!
In the beginning, Xenodican Club members took turns keeping the library open one afternoon a week. Late in 1920, after moving to the City Hall, it was open two afternoons and two evenings a week.
By 1925, the club felt the need for more money to support the growing number of services offered by the library. On September 11, a committee met with the City Council to ask for city support and in the 1926 city budget, $100 was appropriated for the library. This amount was increased later. In 1923 each member was assessed $3.00 a year to pay the salary of a librarian. Other donations and assessments were needed constantly, but each one felt the library must continue. Finally, during the Depression years it was necessary to drop the special assessment of $3.00 each and the City of Palouse assumed payment of the librarian’s salary.
Money-making projects were always underway. Members also had annual clean-up days, as well as other types of work days when husbands joined in. They built shelves and did other carpentering necessary to the Library.
The money-making projects over the years have brought to the library many things besides books. They have maintained the inside of the building, as well as the outside grounds; provided paint for the walls, drapes for the windows, tile for the floor, an aluminum storm door, a librarian’s glass topped desk and reading tables. Shrubs, trees and grass have been planted and flowers seeded and tended each summer.
In July, 1947, the Palouse Library contracted with the new Whitman County Rural Library District. At the time, there were 3,000 books on the shelves. Since affiliating with the county system, the County Library Director has taken charge of all book selections and employs the librarian. However, the Palouse Librarian is still a member of the Xenodican Club, as most have been. The club also continues the annual clean-up day and fund-raising projects for needed improvements of the building and grounds.