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Dominy Library

 

I was searching for something else on my computer and accidentally found this 2010 article about the Fairbury Dominy Memorial Library. It was in the now defunct Bugle newspaper. I enjoyed the stories in the Bugle and hated to see it stop publication.

Lorenzo B. Dominy, businessman and former mayor of Fairbury, doted on his daughter, Hazel. Born in 1884, Hazel died in 1901, and her death was devastating to her father. To remember their daughter, as well as do something for Fairbury, the Dominy's began plans to build a public library in Fairbury. Today, that same library is working to give their children's area a new and improved home — out of the basement and into their planned addition.

Dominy founded on the memory of a special little girl

Fairbury’s library offering started as a reading room with $21 raised at a book social

As part of Fairbury’s Dominy Memorial Library renovation, their new addition will allow the children’s department to move out of the basement. Fitting, as the library was founded with a focus on children, one child in particular.

Lorenzo B. Dominy, businessman and former mayor of Fairbury, doted on his daughter, Hazel. Born in 1884, Hazel died in 1901, and her death was devastating to her father. To remember their daughter, as well as do something for Fairbury, the Dominy's began plans to build a public library in Fairbury.

The desire for a public library in Fairbury had been strong for some time. In fact, in 1894, the Methodist Episcopal Sunday School had a book social and cleared $21 for the library.

At that time, the library was a reading room. People could read in their from 2 - 4 p.m. every day and choose from a limited selection of periodicals. December of 1894 had attendance of 239 patrons. A businessman offered to donate a lot and $2,000 for a public library if the town could raise an additional $4,000.

By the time Hazel Dominy died in 1901, a public library was still a dream.

About a year after Hazel died and as Dominy and his wife, Phoebe, were making secret plans for the library, he died suddenly.

Phoebe was forced to reveal Lorenzo’s plans to the city when the Walton Brothers announced that they were planning to build a city library.

The library was to be built on the site Lorenzo had picked out: the corner of Third and Walnut streets.

Phoebe Dominy also had other requests.

She wanted the building to be completed by January 1, 1905; she wanted to name the building and that it never be changed; also, she wanted to list the rules. In addition, the city would forever maintain the building and keep it a free public library.

The list of rules has changed a little from 1905. Back then, only two books could be taken out on a card at a time. And furthermore, only one book could be fiction. If a patron were delinquent in returning the books, the fine was three cents a day. Instead of a past-due notice sent through email as they are today, past due notices were sent through the mail.

The building was built by Schneider and Son and cost around $15,000 to build, depending on sources and method of calculation. By spring, the library was completed. It was heated by steam, but electricity was used for the lights. The first library board had some well-known Fairbury residents: T.A. Beach, Dr. D. Brewer, Isaac Walton, Mrs. G.Y. McDowell, Mrs. W.R. Bane, Olive McKee, Professor Green, Herbert Powell and F.L. Churchill. The Library was dedicated to the memory of Hazel and Lorenzo Dominy on June 12, 1905.

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From a 2010 Bugle newspaper story.

 

Note: the 1905 building expense of $15,000 would be equivalent to $383,084 in 2013 dollars.
Note: the sentence about mailing out overdue book fines was an error in the original article.

 

 

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