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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
The Livingston County Memorial Library owes its beginning (1920) and early years to the dedicated efforts of the members of the City Federation of Womenís Clubs.
In 1920, inspired by the State Legislatureís offer of a matching $1000 contribution to a memorial honoring First World War Servicemen, the clubs with community help raised the $1,000; the project was the Livingston County Memorial Library. The library opened August 1921 in 2 rooms of a house on the corner of Calhoun and Washington; Miss Ann Broadclus was the first librarian.
In 1923 the library moved to a room in the courthouse, and from there in 1936, to a house at 813 Calhoun purchased by the Library Association. The book collection had increased to over 8,000. Funding during these years had been mainly by regular drives, special donations and many hours of dedicated service.
By the 1940ís it was evident a tax base was needed. With the additional effort of the County Extension Clubs a library district was voted in 1947 and a one mill tax for the library. The library then moved into the building on the corner of Washington and Jackson, which the Library Association had purchased, selling the Calhoun building and using those funds for remodeling. The building and operation of the library were turned over to the newly organized county library districts voted by the taxpayers.
In the early 50ís the library made great strides, becoming one of Missouriís progressive pioneer county libraries with a professional librarian, Katherine Devereaux. Adding a bookmobile the services were extended throughout the county and provided rural schools with their first real library service. Frances Elliott came as librarian in 1952. In the 60ís the library took another forward stride; Elizabeth Coffman, a native Livingston Countian had become librarian after receiving her Mastersí degree in 1964. Through tremendous effort and support the acquiring and remodeling of the old Federal Building at Clay and Locust was accomplished and opened in 1966. By 1967 the inadequacy of the one mill tax was evident and again through the dedicated efforts of the librarian, board and many organizations and individuals, the tax was increased to 2 mills. In the 70ís the library continued to grow in books and services. The collection of books reached the 50,000 mark. The reference department had expanded including the cataloging of the valuable Somerville Missouri history collection and the addition of the popular genealogy section. Lillian DesMarias came as librarian in 1970 and in 1972 Anitra Steele was added as a professional childrenís librarian.
The continued growth of the library is promised in the youth and vitality of the new (1980) librarian, Janet Hartline, and the childrenís librarian, Judith Shoot.Guiding the growth and success of the library over these many years since 1921 has been the dedication and determination of the many board members; all made their contribution. Mrs. Raymond Russell represents her fellow members in the 48 years she served - 38 of those years as president. Others included: Ronald Somerville, Mrs. Jean Miquelon, Mrs. I. W. Waffle, H. R. Rickenbrode, Miss Grace Stone, H. W. Leech and Mrs. Ray Douglas. Present board members are: Mrs. Oscar Cooke, Dr. James Eden, Mrs. James Baker, Mrs. Lena Bowen and Ben Wood Jones.