From the Desk of Gratia Countryman, Temporary Donation Edition, 1923
Gratia Countryman was very important to the history of Hennepin County Library. She was the director of Minneapolis Public Library for over 30 years and she founded Hennepin County Library.
I came across this letter while looking for something else. An individual donated a book to the library and and then asked for it back over 20 years later:
From John Regan, January 8, 1923: “Some years ago, I think about twenty or twenty-five years past, I presented the Public Library with a Chinese Dictionary…my daughter is now very interested in a Mission located in China, where this dictionary could be used to great advantage, I would like to ask if it is possible for me to have the dictionary returned to me…”
Ms. Countryman’s response: “I remember that years ago you gave us a Chinese dictionary which we still possess…It has been bound in morocco by the Library and has been entered on all of our records as our property. I do not feel that I have any more right to return it to you than I would if it had been a purchase. In other words it is city property. Moreover the book shows considerable signs of wear and apparently has been used considerably, probably by Chinese students. Although we are much crowded for room…still we are not for that reason discarding anything valuable or giving away our books.”
This was during the time Countryman was seeking a new Central Library. A new wing was put on the the main library two years later to alleviate the crowding in the stacks.
If you are interested in donating a book to the library, here is our policy. Most books are sold by the Friends of HCL but donations to Special Collections of unique materials such as high school yearbooks are added to the collection, depending on condition and availability.