Centennial Article: Memories

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Patrons of the Howard County Library were recently asked to share their memories of the library.  Since the library opened its doors in 1915 with librarian Ivadel Grigsby there to greet people it has been blessed to have many capable, knowledgeable and caring people on its staff.   Each of these individuals has brought his/her own special skills and has helped to make the library a special place to visit.   It is not surprising that many of the remembrances of the library were about the librarians, the story hours and even the patrons themselves.


Carolyne Peery who herself has served as Head Librarian and as chairman of the Howard County Library speaks fondly of Barbara Devaney who was librarian in the 1970s.  According to Peery one day a patron asked Devaney to find a particular book.  The woman didn’t remember the title or the author but could describe the book as small with gold lettering on the front.  Peery, of course, believed that no one could find that particular book among the hundreds of books in the library but Devaney went to the stacks and within minutes was back with the exact book that the woman had described.


According to another patron Devaney loved hand-made quilts and promoted this craft by sponsoring quilt shows in the library.   More recently the library has been the site of a lecture and display of Afro-American quilts.  It has also hosted lectures by prominent authors and an occasional art show.


Another librarian was described by a patron “as quite the southern lady.”  This patron went on to note that this person “was librarian at the time that several books about the Civil War were published.  If the author [of a book] was not a southern sympathizer [the librarian] hid the book.”


Rachael Simpson’s grandchildren commented that some of their fondest memories “of Granny involve the time spent with books while visiting her in the summer.”  Simpson began her term as librarian in 1957.


A favorite time at the library continues to be the Summer Reading Program and the Story Hours.  One family noted that one of its favorite things about the library is the Halloween Story Hour sponsored by the Friends of the Library.   A child commented that she loved the bear referring to Bruno the Bear who has been coming to the library for the Teddy Bear Christmas Story Hour for past few years.   Another said that her favorite library memory was the summer reading program with the Castles and Dragons. 


Peery remembers the time that the theme for Story Hour was “Frogs and Toads.”  A helpful mother volunteered to bring frogs and toads for the children to see.  While showing them to the children some of the frogs got loose.  According to Peery, “there was much jumping, chasing and laughing in the children’s library that day.”


The young patrons talk about putting together puzzles and looking through the big picture books available in the children’s wing and express their love for the library through simple “I ♥ you!” notes.   However, according to Peery, at least one young patron found an unusual way to use the books to amuse himself.  While the boy’s mother and Peery were visiting at the checkout desk, he discovered that if books on the bottom shelf were pushed the books on the other side would fall out.  The child went through a couple of rows of books pushing all the way before his embarrassed mother caught him.


Perhaps the feelings of most of the patrons of the Howard County Library were summed up by a patron who wrote, “The Public Library of Fayette has been a constant joy in my life for over 30 years.  I grew up on South Main St. and had the greatest time walking to the library “all by myself” and spent hours reading and discovering new books.  Thank you!”