Thursday, March 26, 1908
Southern Vermont Mirror
The dedication services of the Griffith Memorial Library was held at the Congregational Church on Wednesday afternoon. The entire seating capacity of the church was needed for those who came to witness the exercises, many people from surrounding towns being present.
After a selection by the orchestra and prayer by Rev. W. A. McIntire and a song by the choir, George L. Rice, in behalf of the trustees, presented, in a very forcible and eloquent manner, the Library to the library committee, which was accepted on behalf of the committee by Rev. W. A. McIntire. Following a cornet solo by E. S. Kane of Rutland was the address of Hon. W. J. Bigelow of Burlington, a synopsis of which follows:
“In the institution we have met to dedicate today, we find a still broader provision of the higher life of your community and town. The public library is not for the dead, but the living; its benefits are not restricted by creed, by class, by race or color, but are for the whole public. Here the poor, as well as the rich, can come; here the ignorant may learn, the well informed learn even more; here the bad may find good, the good may find the best. Its doors ever open inward to all who have not availed themselves of its advantages; its possibilities are broader than those of the school, because its work is not limited to the school; broader than the church because its membership is not tested by any catechism; broader than political lines, because it deals with all sides of political questions, and at the same time aids in all these undertakings. So, in the completion and opening of this public library, we have the crowning gift of the successful business man, the man of travel and culture, the Man who has given, that you may enjoy his charity, generosity and the highest development in the benefactions he made.”
Mayor Bigelow said no other town in Vermont of less than 1000 population could show such an institution as the new library. Its endowment was given as $14,000, the price of the building.
“If we consider the whole endowment of $51,000 and the lot for this building,” he continued, “we find but six libraries in the whole State of Vermont better endowed than yours, and two of these are university and college libraries. These institutions and their endowments are as follows: Middlebury college library, endowed for $55,000 to construct the building; St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, endowed for $60,000; Fletcher Free library at Burlington, endowed for $70,000; Billings library at University of Vermont, endowed for $120,000; Haskell Free library at Derby, endowed for $100,000; Kellogg-Hubbard library at Montpelier, endowed for $14,5,000.”
“It is not the mature men and women of today in Danby who will find the greatest value of this library,” said Mr. Bigelow, “but the boys and girls who are just coming to years of understanding.” He then told of the scope of a library and its possibilities.
He spoke of the advantages noted at Burlington in opening the public library each Sunday afternoon and recommended the establishment of a public reading department in which should be arranged some good newspapers, illustrated papers and periodicals and possibly books, containing interesting short stories.
He emphasized the responsibility of the public in connection with the new institution and in closing paid a further tribute to the donor. Following Mayor Bigelow’s, speech, a selection was rendered by the orchestra, and Rev. H. J. Maillet delivered a brief address. After another selection by the orchestra the building was thrown open to the public.
Mr. Bigelow said that in accepting the invitation, he did not come as an orator, nor as an authority on public libraries, but simply as a friend to the man “who has so generously donated to the people of this community, this beautiful library; to rejoice for a time with his other friends in his great and unselfish devotion to public progress; to speak if possible some word of tribute to his worth as a citizen, his abiding loyalty to those whom he counted as friends, to the strength of his character as shown in his efforts through life and death to benefit and uplift the people with whom he associated as a friend and neighbor.”
He continued: “Anyone who looks upon Mr. Griffith as the shrewd and highly successful business man that he was, building up a great enterprise where others had failed, as a man who used a part of his wealth in the pleasure of travel and personal pleasure, who enjoyed luxuries that others could not afford, as the measure of his ability, success and desires, would have a very defective estimate of him as a man and a citizen. Such an estimate would leave out the abiding features of his character, his charitableness, his generosity, his loyalty to his town and his desire to benefit and uplift those whom be has desired to aid. The business man has passed away and with him the possibility of further achievement in that direction, but the charitable man still lives. In the two endowments, the income of which is to be used for the proper, observance of Christmas by all the children, and the purchase of useful gifts for the poor children, we shall see the deep charity, the genuine generosity of Mr. Griffith’s character, just as long as faithful wardens can be found to carry out the provisions of his will.
“His loyalty to his town is shown in the fact, that all his public bequests are made to the people among whom he had spent his life and associated as townspeople. During all the years of my acquaintance with him, I found his thoughts always turning to Danby and its people, their interests, their welfare and their happiness, and when he felt the approach of death and the cessation of his personal activity in their behalf, he bequeathed forever a liberal portion of his earthly possessions to their use and benefits. No other interest, no matter how great it might be, called to him so loudly as his home, his neighbors and Danby.
“To develop a proper respect for the dead and a taste for the beautiful in your town life, he provided for diligent care and improvement of your town cemetery. The liberal endowment of the church in which we are assembled is another evidence that he aimed to develop the higher qualities of those he would benefit. Provision was made in his will for a pastor, the heating and maintenance of the church edifice for all time.
The clarinet and cornet duet by Mr. Ballou and Mr. Kane was a pleasing feature of the program, after which Rev. H. J. Maillet of East Dorset gave one of the most eloquent, scholarly and inspiring addresses we have ever heard.
The whole program was of an elevating and inspiring nature and no one who attended could otherwise than have been impressed with the desire for the better things of life. Surely our library is a monument to our town and will be a benefit for all time.
Brehmer’s Orchestra of Rutland furnished the music.
Among those who attended the exercises from out of town were Judge Loveland Munson, Miss Eggleston, Miss Clara Chamberlain, Mrs. L. H. Hemmingway and son of Manchester; Mrs. George L. Rice and daughters, George Chalmers and Miss Cheney, librarian at Rutland, and Thomas McMinn of Rutland; Mrs. F. P. Kingsley and Mrs. C. M. Winslow of Brandon; Rev, and Mrs. Walter Thorpe of Wallingford and Rev. Walter Curtis of Clarendon.