The Union Township Public Library in Ripley celebrated its centennial with an ice cream social attended by more than 150 visitors.
The 100 year celebration was held on Sunday, Sept. 20, and included speeches from library trustee president Jane Zachman and Ohio State Representative Doug Green, as well as enough ice cream to fill bookshelves.
“I think it went very well,” Union Township Public Library Director Alison Gibson said. “The social part of the ice cream social was well received. People sat and talked. The memory scroll was a huge hit as people walked through decades of library history. It took 60 feet of table to lay it out. That was a big hit.”
“The library looked fun. We had balloons and banners and tents. We had a little festival and that was the mood I was looking for.”
Gibson and other library employees set up a history of the library on the street outside the building, with news clippings and other historical items detailing the last 100 years of the library. Ripley native Harriet Jackson Groh sang at the event before Green gave Gibson and the library a certificate from the Ohio House of Representatives to commemorate the library’s centennial.
Former Judge Tom Zachman and his wife Jane also spoke briefly at the event, which was based on ice cream socials that occurred more than 100 years ago to raise money to purchase a plot of land on which the library was built and still remains to this day. Gibson said that other homages to the past included folks dressing in clothing from any of the past decades and homemade old fashioned hand fans for people to take as a souvenir.
Gibson said it was a treat to not only see so many visitors, but also to see many former and retired employees of the library, and catch up with them.
“A lot of the retired employees from the library came back and it was good to see them,” Gibson said. “Some I hadn’t seen for a while. Retired trustees came came as did some council members, including Linda South. It was a well rounded crowd of young and old.
“The mayor (Tom Leonard) showed up a little later. He came and enjoyed and worked the crowd.”
Gibson added that she was pleased to catch up with Doug Green, who she interacted with regularly while he was Brown County Auditor. Gibson was impressed that Green stayed around to chat with people instead of making his speech and returning home.
“He sat and talked (with others) and we talked a little bit,” Gibson said. “It was nice of him to come and spend some time and schmooze.”
According to passages from “Ripley, Ohio: Its History and Families” by Eliese Bambach Stivers, between 1910 and 1917, the Ripley Progress Club raised $2,298 (equivalent to around $43,358.49 in 2015) to purchase a plot of land through “ice cream festivals, sold articles and solicited donations from former Ripley residents.”
The community then spent $8,000 to build the library, and according to the same book, the Ripley Progress Club even secured a $10,000 grant from famous philanthropist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie spent more than $56 million in the late 1800s and early 1900s helping to build 2,509 libraries around the world, with a majority of them in the United States, according to Columbia University’s Carnegie Collections.
The library has survived floods and budget cuts, but remains thriving today with more improvements and renovations ahead.