Book Club (This is the second in a series of articles about the Howard County Public Library which will celebrate its 100th birthday on April 1, 2015.)

centernnial logoAlthough most patrons of the Howard County Library probably think of it as the first public library in the city of Fayette, it is not. The women of Book Club actually ran a small lending library in the Hotel Howard prior to the construction of the present library.

The Fayette Book Club was founded in 1908 by ten women who - according to the club’s mission statement - were interested in their own intellectual growth, the welfare of the town of Fayette and the establishment of a town library. Book Club minutes show that the club’s members began talking about opening a library as early as 1909. After much discussion and planning, the women opened their library in 1911 for one afternoon a week in the lobby of Hotel Howard with club members serving as librarians and providing the books.

The ladies closed their library in 1914 as construction was being completed on the new library building. They donated all of the books in their library to the new Fayette Public Library. In addition, the club gave the new library $100 toward the purchase of an Encyclopedia Britannica. Individual members of the club also presented books to the library.

According to the club history written by Emma Dixon Rogers, fifteen years later club members found themselves in a position to help the library in big way. In 1930 when the library lacked the funds to purchase new books, the women of the club established a rental shelf in the library. Using money from a Liberty Bond purchased during World War I, members purchased new books for the Rental Shelf. The rental fees were used to pay for the books which were then placed in free circulation. During the twelve years the Rental Shelf was in operation, 294 books were purchased and at least 250 of these were released for circulation.

Today the Book Club continues its support of the Howard County Public Library.  Several meetings a year are set aside for volunteer projects at the library.  An annual Christmas gift is given to the library plus additional donations from time to time. 

In 2008 the Fayette Book Club celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a reception at the library and a donation to the library - plus a goal of 100+ hours of service by club members. This year Book Club members have once again pledged 100 hours of service to the library in honor of the library’s 100th birthday.