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Old vs. New

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Sep 1, 2021

Sistersville Public Library

Written for the Tyler Star News by Gene Hadley in January 2002

Sistersville High School located on Main Street was the home of the first library in Sistersville at the turn of the century in 1900. Miss Lily Moss was the first librarian and she was in charge of a small room on the first floor in what would later be the principal’s office. At this time the room was also used as an office and a classroom. The library consisted of approximately 20 volumes that have been donated by citizens as a start for the new library. Although it was the school library, it was also to be used by the public.

On March 5, 1905 Miss Bertha Chadderdon, an SHS graduate with the class of 1903, was hired as the librarian. The Sistersville Independent School District was formed in 1905 and the superintendent of the district, Mr. M.E. Hess, set aside December 8th of each year as library day.

Each pupil was asked to bring one penny for each year of their age and it was from this source that the first 1200 books were purchased.

The Sistersville Woman’s Club, who were very interested in the library project, met with the district Board of Education and offered to give $100 per year to support the library.

In 1907, William Strickling, President of the Board of Education, and also Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, had an act passed by the legislature that gave the members of the Board of Education the right to make a levy to support the school library. In 1907 the high school was moved to the new building on Work Street in Gary Owen, but the library remained at the Main Street School which was now used for grades one through five.

The new high school did not have a library until 1925 as more room became available when the new Junior High was built adjacent to the high school. The Junior High would house grades 6 through 8 that had previously been housed on the first floor of the high school building.

The library continued to grow at the Main Street school until it outgrew the room it was housed in. Finally in 1913 the library was moved from the school to the City Building on Diamond Street. Until this time the Sistersville Post Office had been located in the City Hall, but in 1913 the new Post Office building at the north east corner of Wells and Elizabeth streets had been completed and the Post office moved to the new building.

The room vacated by the Post Office in City Hall was then turned over to the library.

The library continued to be operated as the school library until 1933. In 1933 the Independent School District was done away with in the state in the county unit was formed, with many public institutions supported by the counties being closed. Mr. William Trent, State Superintendent Schools, visited the Sistersville Library and seeing the amount of circulation and the necessity for a public library in this area, agreed to allow the institution to remain open.

In1946 the delegate from Tyler County, Cecil H. Underwood, had the legislature pass a bill stating that the Sistersville Library would be one of only six in the state where the Board of Education would contribute money annually for salaries of the library staff.

The library in City Hall continued to grow until it needed more space, and a 1955 the Library Board asked the City Council for a levy to build a new library. Council put this on hold as a levy to build a municipal swimming pool was already being proposed. In 1961 a levy was passed by the city voters to construct a new library building.

The building will be built on property bequeath to the city in 1952 to be used for new library by Miss May Corbett, who was a classmate of Bertha Chadderton, with the class of 1903. This property was located on the North West corner of Wells and Elizabeth Street across from the Post Office.

With money from the levy, contributions from private citizens, and a Federal matching funds grant, the new $125,000 library building was dedicated on March 2, 1964. Miss Bertha Chadderton had been the librarian since 1905 when the library had been at Main Street School.

After 57 years she was still the librarian and moved into the new library to serve as the first librarian in the new building. Miss Chadderdon would serve until her death in February 1966 at age 81. Librarians after Miss Chadderton were Ruth Liljequest, Dorothy Harsha, Connie Fiest, Sue Rapp, Pat Carsonn and Janet Hadley.

The library in the high school would also continue to grow over the years. During most of those years the librarian would be a teacher who worked part time as librarian. In 1961 Ruth Gilligan was hired to teach Library Science and was the first full-time librarian at SHS. On her retirement Tracy Summers was the full-time librarian until the school closed in 1993.

It is ironic that the present library is only about the length of a football field away from the spot where it originated a century ago in a little room in the original high school. Today the city library is thriving, while there is no trace of the old Main Street School where it all started.


Written by Randy Rutherford

The Sistersville Public Library opened its doors in 1964. Located at 518 Wells St the library offers many resources to the community. Hours are Monday 1-5, Tuesday 11-6, Wednesday 10-3, Thursday 11-6, Friday 1-5 and Saturday 10-2. The following is a partial list of services offered by the Sistersville Public Library: copy/fax service, printouts, lamination, free WIFI access, college test proctor, references services, interlibrary loans, ebooks, EBSCO-online access (Elton B Stephen’s Co an online research platform full of databases), free notary services and resume help.

Additionally, the library will be holding their fall pre-school story hour on the following dates; Sept 22, Sept 29, Oct 6, Oct 13, and Oct 20. All meeting times are 12:00-1:00 p.m. There will be crafts, stories and snacks. You may call the library at 304-652-6701 to register your child.

Any questions can be answered by contact the library at 304-6520-6701 or email sabrina.kyle@weirton.lib.wv.us