City, Library to honor longtime director with historic street sign
The City of Merrill’s Historic Preservation Committee will honor the longest-serving director of the T.B. Scott Free Library, Mrs. Natalie H. Scribner, on Monday, Oct 23, 2023, at 12 noon by unveiling an historic street marker sign at the intersection of Polk and Main Streets.
Scribner, a native of Argyle, Wis., was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Library School and headed the children’s department at the Jacksonville, Ill., library before coming to Merrill in 1922. She served as the director of the T.B. Scott Free Library in Merrill from 1922 until the year before her death in 1948. She had married Frank G. Scribner of Duluth, Minn., just two years prior to her arrival in Merrill but he tragically died from complications of appendicitis just a few years after their marriage. The couple had no children and Mrs. Scribner never remarried. A younger sister of Mrs. Scribner also died young, leaving her no relatives except cousins.
During her tenure leading the library in Merrill, the collection more than quadrupled from 25,000 items to over 100,000. Mrs. Scribner made special efforts to serve the surrounding rural communities. Of the 102,355 books available through the library, almost 35,000 were in the rural branches.
Scribner was one of the founding members of the Wisconsin Valley Library System (WVLS) that currently connects 23 libraries in the north central part of Wisconsin for the purposes of sharing resources, following cost-effective policies, and implementing current and evolving technology for the purpose of maintaining high levels of service to their communities. In addition, under Scribner’s leadership, the library in Merrill was one of the first in the state to engage in Inter-Library Lending (ILL), which made scarce materials available even to libraries outside of WVLS. That system today is a nationwide standard practice for most public libraries.
Besides her innovative and pioneering work at the library, Scribner was an active participant in several community organizations. She was the vice-president of the Women’s Alliance, and an honorary member of the Monday Club Study Class, the Junior Study Class, and the Social Topic Club. She was a longtime member of the Church of the Ascension and belonged to St. Monica’s Guild. She resided for many years in Apartment B of the Ellis Court Apartments of the Badger Hotel (currently the site of Park Place Residence of the Merrill Housing Authority). She only resigned her position from the library due to failing health. Scribner was succeeded by Mrs. Edna Kraft and died, 14 months later, at the age of 55.
There will be refreshments available in the front café area of the library following the unveiling of the street sign.