Centennial Article: Open House 1915

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The original Howard County Library building officially opened its doors for business on April 1, 1915 however construction of the building under the supervision of Charles R. Fisher, contractor, was completed in January of 1915 and was formally accepted by the new library board that same month.  The public was given its first view of the inside of the library on Feb. 18, 1915 at a public reception and book shower according to an article in the Howard County Advertiser in March 1965.

Following the reception the newspaper reported that “the building is a pretty commodious one, modern throughout.  The lighting effects are splendid, the heat is ideal and the furniture will be pretty as well as serviceable.”

The initial viewing was a gala event.  A short program featured a concert by the Fayette band, selections by the Central College Mandolin Club and several songs by musical groups from Howard-Payne, Central College and the Fayette High School.

In his speech, the president of the Library Board Rev. W. A. Simmons gave the library to the people and Howard-Payne President H. E. Stout accepted it on their behalf  Others praised L.D. West who began the correspondence with the Carnegie Corporation and Jordon Coller who donated the land for the library.  One corner of the library was set aside for war memorabilia collected by Coller.

It was hoped that the library would serve as a Civic Center for the town of Fayette.  Speakers reported that Y.W.C., a young women’s charitable organization, and the Commercial Club were already planning to meet in the basement of the library.

According to Library Board minutes approximately 700 books were brought to the reception where they were accepted by Librarian Ivadel Grigsby and later recorded in the Accession book.  The first such listing is Webster’s International Dictionary donated by R. M. Bagby   The History of the American People by Woodrow Wilson is listed as the first book purchased by the library.  R.C. Clark made one of the first gifts to the library.  In 1913 before construction had even begun, he donated 200 books including a 127-volume set of The War of the Rebellion.

(Information for this article was taken from articles published in the Fayette Advertiser in 1965 and from an article “Fayette Public Library: 75 Years of Public Support” by Carolyn M. Jones in Show-Me Libraries – Spring 1990.)