District Attorney Lyman Evans is known for making the final argument that convinced Andrew Carnegie to fund a public library building for Riverside. Evans wife, Mary, was a prominent member of the Riverside Women’s Club. That group had taken up the cause of lobbying Andrew Carnegie for the funds to build a new public library. The letter writing campaign she started came to naught. Carnegie’s secretary, James Bertram, counseled her to have a public official appeal to Carnegie as one of the criteria for an award was the willingness of local government to commit tax monies for the long term support of the libraries Carnegie funded.
Mary had her husband, a Library Trustee, write to Carnegie. On April 16, 1901, Bertram replied for Carnegie, “If Riverside will furnish a suitable site and agree to support a Free Public Library at cost of not less than two thousand dollars a year, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to provide twenty thousand dollars for the erection of a library building.” The library trustees passed a motion accepting Carnegie’s offer and provided the site at Mission Inn Avenue and Orange Street, still occupied by the Riverside Main Library.