Sherburn Merrill Smith (Wendell Public Library) Library History
With the tragic death of Wendell State Bank President Sherburn Merrill Smith in October 12, the Wendell Library was born. Smith’s mother Mrs. William Chester of New York, donated Smith’s books, many of them leather bound, to be used as the Sherburn Merrill Smith Memorial Library.
From the small core a library grew, housed first in a room at the bank. The first librarian was Mrs. Josephine Dillon, serving for $7.00 and then $12.00 per month. The library books were moved to the building that was the Post Office on Avenue A when Wendell State Bank merged with the First National Bank of Wendell. In 1918 it was moved to the Beaton Wendell Inn which the city acquired as a City Hall and in 1919 was move d to the new City Hall built on Main Street. Mrs. Dillon resigned as librarian in late 1919 and the Village Board appointed Bernice Boysen.
Boysen was able to raise a small amount of money through over-due book fines and in June of 1912 the Library Board decided to buy three new books. The books were loaned from a ‘pay-shelf’ where patrons paid a fee for the use of the books and funds were raised for additional book purchases.
Mrs. Nellie A Dyar (Hamilton) wife of Wendell pioneer Ben E. Dyar became Librarian in 1921 when the position was combined with that of Village Treasurer and bookkeeper for the Water Works Department. Nellie began all three positions on June 30 for a combined salary of $45.00 a month. The library shared the Water Works office. Through book rental fees and over-due book fines she was able to increase the number of books available to Wendell readers.
Nellie Dyar had also assumed the duties of Village Clerk before her resignation from public service August 10, 1945. Lillian M. Comstock was appointed Village Clerk, Librarian and bookkeeper for the Water Works Department later that month.
Wendell was incorporated as a second class city in February of 1946 paving the way for a 2 mil tax levy for the library. $450.00 a year in 1950 was the first public tax monies allotted to the library. With more funds available Lillian was able to add the library and gathered a good collection of Idaho History books. The library became truly a public one with no fees assessed for book rental.
Lillian M. Comstock resigned as City Clerk October 12, 1961