A Winter Library Visit: The Independent Baking Company

DPL Vol 239. VM89-02203. Children using the library at the Independent Baking Company. ca 1910s

We always enjoy looking at this picture taken in the mid-to-late 1910s at the Independent Baking Company at 2429 Rockingham Road. It is a winter scene with the librarian checking books in and out for children dressed against the cold weather. It is unfamiliar to us today that a library system would open small libraries in local businesses, but it was a wonderful way to connect people with books for many years in Davenport.

Starting in 1909, the Davenport Public Library created library stations. The goal was to allow people in different neighborhoods access to books. Work, travel costs, and time were factors in not using the downtown library. Sometimes, the large library building filled with books and people could be intimidating to those unfamiliar with it. The stations were intended to allow people access to books and other reading materials in familiar and convenient settings.

The first station was at 2046 (now 2048) 3rd Street in Lauffer’s Drug Store. A small section in the store contained library books that could be checked out when a librarian visited the site. The library station would usually be open to the public for two and a half hours once a week.

The first four stations contained reading materials for adult patrons. It wasn’t until 1913 when a new library station was opened in the former Friendly House building (314-316 E. 2nd Street) that children’s books were included. Stations began to be opened in local schools soon after with a focus solely on children’s materials.

On November 11, 1915, a new library station opened at the Independent Baking Company. It contained both adult and children’s reading materials. The station was open on Thursday afternoons for people living in the area while employees could check out books during their lunches. It was considered an important addition to the local community.

More library stations were added in local businesses and schools as needed. Not only could you check out and return books at the stations, but librarians could also issue library cards on-site. A great convenience! These stations continued in Davenport until 1958 when the Bookmobile was introduced.

Details we noticed about this picture include the set of scales and other science-oriented items on top of the bookcases. The librarian has her purse tucked behind her back while seated on the chair. Books wrapped in a book strap waiting to be checked in or out on the table. Books on the table include Five Little Peppers and Their Friends by Margaret Sidney, Eight Cousins by Louisa M. Alcott, and In Morgan’s Wake – A Book of the West Indies by A. Hyatt Verrill. Finally, the little girl standing next to the table with a most interesting warm winter hat on her head.

We hope you take a moment to explore this picture too.

(posted by Amy D.)


  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 12, 1916. Pg. 18
  • The Daily Times, November 24, 1916. Pg. 16
  • The Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 24, 1916. Pg. 21
  • The Morning Democrat, December 1, 1954. Pg. 11

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