Women's groups have been a major force in the establishment of public libraries and the forerunners of public libraries in the United States. A good example of a library established by a women's group that developed into a public library is the Ypsilanti Ladies Library in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Ladies Library was founded in 1868 by the Ladies Library Association. The library began as a subscription library open to all for a small fee. In 1890 Mrs. Mary Ann Starkweather presented the Association her home, an elaborate Italianate-style building, to house the library. An arch over the front door was added to identify the building as the Ladies Library. Although the library started receiving public support and became a free public library around the turn of the century, it did not change its name from "Ladies Library" to "Public Library" until 1948. The Starkweather home continued to house the public library until 1963 when the library moved into the old post office building. The library is now the Ypsilanti District Library.
Freedom to Read Foundation: 45 Years
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