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History of the Andrews County Library
The Andrews Study Club voted in March of 1947 to take on the project of the formation and organization of a public library, with the intention that the club would turn the library into a county library when funds were available to purchase a building. With the donation of books from members and friends of the club, the process began (the first book put into the collection was Letters by a Senator’s Wife by Frances Parkinson Keyes). The founding members of the library included Mrs. J.L. Cobb, Mrs. Sam Gantt, Mrs. Percy Morrison, Mrs. M.B. McCoy, Mrs. Garland Lindsey, Miss Lyda Kelly, Mrs. Reg Durham, Mrs. J.H. Galloway, Mrs. Pat Beene, Mrs. R.J. Emner, Mrs. M.L. Everts, Mrs. Carl Ham, Mrs. C.R. Nichols, Mrs. D.M. Pinnell, Mrs. J.P. Roach, Mrs. C.W. Roberts,Jr., Mrs. C.E. Sealy, Mrs. B.F. Seay, Mrs. C.W. Thorpe and Mrs. J.W. Pinnell.
On January 24, 1947 the club made its first venture toward raising money for the project with a presentation of Clare Tree Major’s play Heidi, the first entertainment to be held in then new high school auditorium. In March, a style show was held, and then a Book Tea in April where many books were donated for the library. The County Commissioners gave the club a room in the courthouse to house the library until they could vote bonds for a new building. During the year, enough books were donated to hold the library open two afternoons each week during the summer of 1947. New members who joined the club and helped with the project in 1948 included Miss Bernice Boze, Mrs. W.H. Griffin, Mrs. Lloyd Morgan (who would help to raise over $500,000 for a new library almost 50 years later), Mrs. Richard Ramsey, Mrs. C.M. Ulmer, and Mrs. J.A. Ulmer. In October 1948, Mrs. Sealy with other committee members contacted the county court for the purpose of trying to get a county library. By April, the plans had been shown to the committee. The library was to be the Andrews Memorial Library in honor of the servicemen of World War II.
It was reported that the club hoped to see the library being erected by the Fall of 1949. That year, the club donated and purchased additional books. In February, another play Hansel and Gretel was presented. New club members who joined the campaign were Mrs. Johnny Smith and Mrs. Joe Allbright (who were also contributors to the new library almost 50 years later). During the 1949050 club year, the study club continued to stress the importance of building the county library and saw it completed during the year. The club was in charge of the open house at the facility on July 16, 1950 and on July 17, it was open to the public. In January, 1966, the club members assisted as special hostesses for the opening of the library’s renovation and addition. Special projects of the club through the years in connection with the library have included the story hours for the children. The club also recalled that Sam Gantt helped make their first bookshelves in the old courthouse. (presented at Open House on Jan., 1966, the opening of the new building).
The library remained at 201 N.W. 2nd St. until 1999. During that time, the library outgrew its surroundings due to adding a literacy program (it now has its own building at 106 N.E. Ave E Pl.), a thriving children’s department (with special emphasis on the summer reading program), a growing population, and the introduction of personal computers and the Internet.
In the late 1990’s, due to a large tear in the carpet, it was decided that a new facility was necessary to house the library and the former 1st National Bank building, located at 109 N.W. 1st St., was purchased for renovation. Andrews County provided the bulk of the funding for the project, with contributions from the City of Andrews, various grants and The Friends of the Andrews County Library (created for the purpose of fundraising, which it continues to do to this day). On March 20, 1999, the last 1000 books were moved by a human chain to their new residence—it took 15 minutes for those books to travel, hand-to-hand, one and a half blocks.
The ‘new’ Andrews County Library opened for business on March 22, 1999 and currently provides 32 computers for public access, WiFi hotspot, books, periodicals, audio/visual materials, a variety of online databases, and a children’s department that is the focal point of the 20,000 sq. ft. facility, making it one of the best in the state of Texas for a community the size of Andrews.