Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month from all of us here at the Little Falls Public Library! Today we are spotlighting our first Librarian, Mabel E. Richards who worked here when the library opened in 1912.
Mabel E. Richards was born in Herkimer, NY on October 13, 1884 to Dr. Martin and Frances Richards. Growing up, Miss Richards attended school in Little Falls and after graduating went on to Cornell University where she received her education in Library Studies.
Prior to Judge Rollin H. Smith donating the house built by his father-in-law, Frank Bramer, to the City of Little Falls in 1910, the Little Falls library had been intertwined with the Little Falls school library. Miss Richards was the school librarian as well as a public librarian starting in 1907 up until 1929 when the school started their own library system. In 1911, the Little Falls Public Library was officially moved to its present location at 10 Waverly Place from the high school and opened to the public the following year. After serving a dual role as school and public librarian for 22 years, Miss Richards was able to put all of her efforts into serving the community of Little Falls with pertinent material for all ages.
Being the sole librarian here at 10 Waverly Place, Miss Richards was given a starting monthly salary of $45.83 in 1912. She had been elected by the Board of Trustees and her duties were along the lines of managing the library collection, reporting to the board, and managing the finances that came in from fines and other library services. The board then hired additional staff and gave Miss Richards a raise after about a year of operation. The last reported salary of Miss Richards comes from the March 8th Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes from 1965 which states that Miss Richards received a raise from a yearly salary of $5,522 to $5,698. As our records indicate, Miss Richards declined a raise the following year which may be indicative to her leaving the library.
Mabel E. Richards served the community of Little Falls for over 53 years retiring due to poor health conditions. Miss Richards passed away on January 21, 1974 at the age of 89 at the Little Falls Hospital where she had been a patient at the Extended Care Facility. Miss Richards was a valuable part of our library’s history and was respected by those she worked with as can be seen from board meeting minutes in the late 1960s when the board planned to go see her in the hospital to express their gratitude for her library service. Her spirit still lives on at the Little Falls Public Library as we strive to serve the community with the dedication that Miss Richards possessed.
It has been 111 years since the opening of the Little Falls Public Library on 10 Waverly Place and 116 years since the beginning of Mabel Richards’ career as a public librarian for the City of Little Falls. Though time has changed our community drastically the root of the Little Falls Public Library stays the same; serve the public and their needs. Today we recognize Miss Richards for all she did in the beginning of our library’s history, the foundations that were put into place, and where we’ve come since. Thank you Miss Mabel E. Richards for your dedication to our library for we wouldn’t be the same today. Happy International Women’s Day!
Sources for this write up include our “Library History” page on our website which you can access by clicking here, the obituary of Miss Mabel E. Richards from the Little Falls Evening Times which you can access by clicking here, and our accounts of board meeting minutes from 1910-1987 which can only be found at the Little Falls Public Library.