War Memorial Public Library
THE WAR MEMORIAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
Lula Fain Major
The first effort to establish a public library in Williamson County was made by the American Legion Auxiliary in the 1920s when they placed some books, received as gifts, in a room next to the one the American Legion used in the Masonic Hall on Second Avenue South. This Room was open a few hours a week, and the library which was called “The American Legion Library” was attended by a volunteer librarian, Miss Blossom Amis.
Many people realized the need for a larger and more adequate library. The fulfillment of this need became the 1937 community project of the Business and Professional Women’s Club together with other interested citizens, among them members of the American Legion Auxiliary. Out of their interest, work, and determination came into being the Williamson County Public Library, first as a demonstration and later as a permanent part of our county.
The formal opening of the Williamson County Public Library was on Saturday, June 26, 1937, with ceremonies taking place on the Public Square in Franklin, Tennessee at noon. That morning prior to the ceremony two boys, one of whom was thought to have been the son of Rev. W. H. Armistead, went about town handing out programs for the Library opening. Miss Marion Green kept one for her scrapbook, and it is as follows:
Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure;
Books are gates to lands of pleasure;
Books are paths that upward lead;
Books are friends. Come, let us Read.
The Williamson County Public Library extends greetings to its future patrons and invites you to join us in celebrating its opening.
Your Community Library offers to all, both children and adults, free access to its books with their opportunities for a continuing EDUCATION through life, for a most satisfying RECREATION, for INFORMATION in time of need and for INSPIRATION that sustains and stimulates.
Only a desire to render the best possible book service and to extend the appreciation and use of books
among the people of Williamson County motivates your public Library.
Open House will be held on Saturday, June 26
from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.
PROGRAM ON THE SQUARE
1.2. NOON Saturday
Presentation by Business and Professional Women’s Club -
Miss Helen Gildea
Presentation of Library to the County -
Chairman of the Library Board
Acceptance for the Town - Mayor Park Marshall
Music by the High School Band
Circulation of books will begin on Tuesday, June 29
Library hours will be 12 noon to 9 P.M. on Tuesday and
Thursday; 9 A.M. to 9 _P.M. on Saturday
Miss Loraine Binkley, graduate of Peabody Library School
will be Librarian
We’re off! Let us make our Library a success
Remembering That Day
Mrs. James Buford, a former circulation department librarian at Carnegie Library in Nashville, Tennessee, served as chairman of the ceremony and remembers that Saturday as being a very hot day. She introduced to about one hundred interested citizens Miss Helen Gildea, president of the Franklin Business and Professional Women's Club, and in brief remarks, Miss Gildea presented the library to the people of Williamson County. Responding on behalf of the citizens of the county was James H. Campbell who told those gathered there that w
hile we have the library now, its permanence is not assured. With the help of all people of the county, we hope to assure a constantly expanding and permanent library.
At the last minute the person who was to introduce the Mayor could not come, and Mrs. Buford, thirty minutes before the ceremony was to begin, asked Wallace Smith who graciously accepted. Mrs. Buford said he made a long flowery introduction and to her, it was the speech of the day. Judge Smith began by complimenting the Business and Professional Women's Club on their enterprise and predicted success for a permanent library.
Of Mayor Park Marshall he said that he was
the one man whose contributions to Franklin without monetary compensation are unsurpassed by those of any man in the world. Mayor Marshall accepted the library for the people of Franklin, and John Henderson, speaking for the County Judge, J. M. Burke who was ill, stated that the opening of the library was "one of the greatest advancements made here within my lifetime."
People Who Played a Role
Also taking part in this important ceremony was Miss Winifred Zwemer, a member of the Business and Professional Women's Club, who was responsible for the fund solicitation outside of the city area, and the Franklin High School Band which played before and after the speaking.
At the end of the ceremony, those present attended the open house being held at the modestly but comfortably equipped library located in 15 feet by 20 feet sample room in (or at) the rear of the Post Hotel which was on the corner of the Public Square and East Main Street. Miss Loraine Binkley, the new librarian, was there to welcome the one hundred and sixty-two or so visitors who came to see their library.
Opening of the Library
The library opened for use on the following Tuesday, June 29. Library hours were from 12 noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays. The longer hours on Saturday were to accommodate the people who came into town only on that day from the county areas. Several persons arrived at the library before noon on that Tuesday to await the opening of the doors.
WillReese Mullens was one of these and had the honor of checking out the first book -Van Dine's Kidnap Murder Case. He read it, returned it later that afternoon, and checked out another book. In the beginning, only one book could be checked out at a time.
The opening of the Library began a six months demonstration period to determine the desire on the part of Williamson County residents for a public Library. It was the culmination of the vote taken on Tuesday evening, January 19, 1937, at the regular Business and Professional Women's meeting "to get behind a movement to establish a Public Library in Franklin for the use of citizens of the town and county," and of much planning and work.
On February 27, 1937, Mr. Francis K. W Drury, librarian of the Carnegie Library in Nashville and president of the Tennessee Library Association, spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Business and Professional Women who had invited representatives from various organizations of the county, including schools and churches. The purpose of the luncheon at the Hotel Post, for which tickets were bought for 35 cents, was to discuss the beginning of a public Library. The club members chose as their slogan,
Why spend money, time and effort in teaching children to read without giving them something to read?
A finance committee was appointed. It was composed of Dr. William F. Roth, Jr, director of the Child Guidance Study, Mrs. Tom Henderson, and Jim F. Eggleston, chairman. The responsibility of this committee was to secure adequate funds to pay the salary of a Librarian for six months and to provide for the rent of a room to house the library. The campaign for funds began the latter part of April 1937.
Teams of Canvassers
Two teams of canvassers were appointed by the finance committee to work in and around Franklin, including the entire membership of the Business and Professional Women's Club. Solicitors for the county area were appointed later and worked under the direction of Miss Winifred Zwemer. Professor Orgain Seay represented the Western section; Miss Sally Critz the South Central; and Miss Roberta Wikle the Northern.
- Mrs. Tom Henderson, Captain
- Mrs. Leonard Brittain Dr. Rosalie Carter
- Miss Pearl Kelley Miss Louise Lunn
- Miss Betty McDaniel Mrs. B. T. Nolen
- Miss Kate North Mrs. M. T. Regen
- Mrs. Willis Postlewaite Miss Mary Pope
- Mrs. Robert Richardson Mrs. Benton Sparkman
- Mrs. Tom Tansil
- Miss Anne Tohrner
- Dr. W F. Roth, Jr, Captain
- Mrs. Chapman Anderson Mrs. Joe Cliffe
- Miss Katherine DeYoung Mrs. Ophelia Fugitt
- Miss Helen Gildea Miss Bess Joyce
- Miss Virginia Kirk Miss Mary Kate Ladd
- Miss Ollie Lynch Mrs. Frances Moore
- Miss Ruth Skelley Miss Margaret Tucker
- Miss Winifred Zwemer Mrs. Ernest Woosley
Library Furnishing Committee
As the necessary funds were being collected, a library furnishing committee representing Home Demonstration Clubs was also at work. The committee under the chairmanship of Mrs. J. A. Hamilton was composed of Mrs. Reams Fleming, Douglas Club; Mrs. Gene Rice, Franklin Club; Mrs. J. M. King, Pioneer Club; and Mrs. Pope Mullens, Progressive Club.
A clipping from a local paper in June 1937 tells us something of their work. "The furnishings committee has been busy redecorating in a soft shade of cream. In the center of the room hangs a beautiful indirect lighting lamp, donated by the Tennessee Electric Power Company. A new linoleum furnished by Trice-Reynolds completes the setting. H. J. Potts and Southall Brothers are at work on shelving. Comfortable furniture is being planned."
The ladies on this committee worked with the librarian when she came in early June to see that the Library room was comfortably equipped and that the books were on the shelves. Mrs. James Buford said that this room had been used by the hotel earlier for the sample room. It was here that the trunks of the traveling salesmen were stored.
The nucleus of the library when the campaign for funds began was books to be loaned them, and later donated to the library, by the John E Stephens Post of the American Legion; a collection of about 50 volumes from the Presbyterian Sunday School library; and 100 volumes from the State Department of Education. The public schools in Franklin had also promised to lend the library some books, especially During the summer months. Various citizens, clubs, and businesses made contributions for the purchase of 100 or so new books before the opening of the library.
Dr. Rosalie Carter served as chairman of the Committee on Rules and Regulations, and the following set of rules for library use was adopted by the Board. This library is intended to serve all the residents of Williamson County. A registration card will entitle persons to borrow books, but cards must be signed by parents for children under fourteen.
For the present, only one book at a time will be charged to each borrower. The loan period for new books is seven days, for other books fourteen days. Renewals will be allowed at the discretion of the librarian except in the case of reserves. Reserves will be taken for books not on the shelves, and patrons will be notified when the same is available.
A fine of two cents a day for adult books and one cent a day for juvenile books will be charged for books overdue. The fine is never to exceed one dollar or the price of the particular book borrowed, whichever is least and is to be collected at the discretion of the person in charge. This charge is not for revenue but is charged in order to ensure the return of books. Periodicals may not be taken from the library, except at the discretion of the librarian.
Requests for the purchase of particular books are solicited. If the purchase cannot be made, the applicant will be so notified, and every effort will be made to secure the book or a substitute from another source. The Library will be open from twelve o'clock noon till nine o'clock on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from nine o'clock in the morning till nine o'clock in the evening on Saturday.