Serving the Merrill area through traditional and innovative services, T.B. Scott Free Library connects people to their community and the world, promotes literacy and civic engagement, encourages and supports life-long learning, ensures free and open access to ideas, and provides opportunities for recreation.
To cultivate a library environment so vital that everyone desires to be an active library user.
- 1886Thomas Blythe (T.B.) Scott , lumberman, state Senator, and first mayor of Merrill dies. Scott wills $10,000 to the city to found a free public library, contingent upon the City’s provision of “suitable quarters” for the library within five years.
- 1889Special city election is held to establish a public library. Results: 82 for; 0 opposed.
- 1891Janet Russell begins duties as first librarian as, on March 24, T. B. Scott Free Library opens on first floor of City Hall (now the Old City Hall Apartments), among the first two dozen public libraries in the state. Previous to this time the community was served by rental libraries.
- 1898Merrill Traveling Library Association, one of the first in the state, formed. Communities throughout the county subscribe, including Tripoli, Russell, Gleason, Irma, Chat, and Heinemann.
- 1899Classification of books changed from a “good ordinary classification” to the Dewey Decimal system.
- 1901Separate “Children’s Room” approved by Library Board.
- 1905Helen Price begins duties as second librarian. By spring she starts the first English language classes for foreigners conducted in a Wisconsin public library.
- 1908Katherine Barker begins duties as third librarian, serves until 1914.
- 1909Request for $17,500 from Andrew Carnegie Foundation approved. Claude & Starck of Madison (associates of the famed Louis Sullivan) contracted as architects the following spring.
- 1910Task of re-cataloging the library collection begins.
- 1911New Carnegie library completed in Stange’s Park. (Moved in on August 21, 1911)
- 1914Winnifred Bailey begins duties as fourth librarian. During WWI takes active role in the war effort, including national mobilization of library materials for American soldiers.
- 1917Elisabeth Burke, fifth librarian, begins duties.
- 1919Edna D. Orr, sixth librarian, begins duties.
- 1922Nathalie Scribner, seventh librarian, eventually becomes the chief architect of the Wisconsin Valley Library Association, formed to encourage the sharing of resources among member libraries.
- 1926Thomas B. Scott, Jr., donates $10,000 to the library. Interest from the gift to be used for books and magazines.
- 1929Due to growth in services and collections, Children’s Dept. moved to the remodeled lower level of the Carnegie building.
- 1930During the depression library use increases dramatically as its budget decreases.
- 1935WPA grant helps with roofing and cement work on the library.
- 1945H. V. Kaltenborn, Merrill native and famous radio commentator, journalist and author donates $2,000 to the library for creation of a book fund.
- 1948Edna Kraft begins duties as eighth librarian.
- 1949Several centers set up in the county so that rural residents don’t have to travel directly to the main library for books.
- 1959The library wins a John Cotton Dana Honorable Mention Award for its comprehensive, outstanding and original methods of service. [An American Library Association Award sponsored by the H. W. Wilson Co.
- 1961The library begins participation in Project 6, a federally funded demonstration project of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission and the public libraries of Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas counties. The project strengthens the collections of established libraries and uses a bookmobile to provide service to areas where there is no public library.
- 1966Architects hired to plan an addition to the library.
- 1965T. B. Scott Library becomes a founding member of the new cooperative organization called the Wisconsin Valley Library Reference Service. Following passage of state legislation aimed at the formation of library systems, in 1972 this organization became the Wisconsin Valley Library Service.
- 1968Edna Kraft named Librarian of the Year by the Wisconsin Library Association.
- 1969Library addition opened, doubling the size of the building. Architects were Foster & Shavey; Wausau, WI.
- 1970Ramon Hernandez begins duties as ninth library director.
- 1971Library acclaimed as an excellent example of Sullivanesque architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Wisconsin Chapter of American Institute of Architects.
- 1972Library recognized by State Department of Natural Resources as an excellent example of construction on a flood plain.
- Merrill receives its first State Aids funds ($7,881.50) for the expansion of library services.
- 1973Gleason Branch opened. Bonnie Preuser staffs it until it closes in June 2001.
- The library approved as a Wisconsin Registered Landmark.
- 1974Library named to National Register of Historic Places.
- Outreach Extension Service for the homebound, elderly and handicapped begins, funded with a federal grant.
- 1975Kathleen Gosz begins duties as tenth library director.
- 1976Tile roof on Carnegie building restored; Bicentennial “roof raising” celebration.
- 1977Library selected to receive the Wisconsin Library Association’s Clarence B. Lester Memorial Award (Wisconsin’s Library of the Year) as an “outstanding example of what a library can do and be in a small community.”
- 1981N. Curtis LeMay begins duties as eleventh library director.
- 1983Paperback book deposit station begun in Irma at the Irma Stop ‘N’ Shop. The station operated until 1991.
- 1985First card catalog cards, book cards, and book pocket labels made with a new Apple IIe microcomputer.
- 1986Anita Gebert, member of the Board of Trustees since 1960, named State Library Trustee of the Year.
- 1988Library begins putting records of holding into statewide computer database, WISCAT.
- Beatrice Lebal begins duties as twelfth library director.
- 1991Library celebrates its centennial, with a community-wide “Birthday Party in the Park.” [This inspired the beginning of “Jennyfest” an annual historical celebration in Stange’s Park which continued for about nine years.]
- 1993Card catalog discarded; use of Dynix computerized circulation system begins.
- 1994Patrons begin using the Dynix computerized catalog.
- 1997Library begins offering public Internet access.
- 1998Medford Public Library’s collection and patron records added to T. B. Scott Library’s computer database (the “M and M Project”).
- 1999Referendum for a library building project defeated.
- T. B. Scott Library Board of Trustees gives its approval for the library to become a founding member of V-Cat, a shared automation consortium administered by WVLS.
- Tile roof on Carnegie building replaced.
- Fundraising for a library building project begins.
- Friends of T. B. Scott Library organized.
- 2000Second referendum on the proposed library building project passes.
- Frye, Gillan, Molinaro Architects, Ltd. of Chicago are hired.
- Library moved into temporary quarters at the former Fox Point factory, 1905 E. 14th St., during construction of the addition.
- Groundbreaking for the new addition.
- 2001Library moves back into the newly expanded and renovated building, and reopens the doors on Aug. 20th.
- Library Web Page debuts.
- 2002Library designated a Merrill Historic Landmark.
- For the second time the library receives the Wisconsin Library Association’s Library of the Year award.
- 2006Beyond Books: Community Artshare begins.
- 2007March –Library begins to offer wireless internet access to the public.
- April — Outdoor lighted promotional sign, donated by Church Mutual, launched.
- October — Director Bea Lebal receives the Wisconsin Library Association’s Muriel Fuller award.
- 2009January — Stacy Stevens begins duties as the 13th Library Director.
- September — Sunday hours begin after Labor Day.
- October 4 — First Words Worth Hearing program for adults.
- 2011All year celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Carnegie Building.
- 2013New Circulation system, Sierra, begins.
- 2016March 25 — Anniversary celebration of 125 years of library service in Merrill.
- 2017June 1 — Officially flipped the switch on solar power at the library. On the building addition, a new roof was installed with 79 solar collectors on the south and south-west sides to provide about 15 percent of the library’s annual electricity usage.
- 2021April — Jessica Zellers begins duties as the 14th Library Director.