By Bob Weaver

This year marks the 38th for the Calhoun County Library, the result of the efforts of several community minded citizens who started to work on the project in 1961.

The small one-room schools had small libraries and the "new" Calhoun County High School records speak of a formal librarian as early as 1934.

An early effort to bring books to rural residents was the Alpha Regional Library bookmobile, which had scheduled stops at stores, post offices and schools in the county at Big Springs, Millstone, Arnoldsburg, Big Bend, Cabot Station, Mt. Zion, Orma and Minnora. The bookmobile project began in the early 1950's.

The first formal public library was located in the courthouse in the 1950's, and had wide public appeal.

Chronicle editor Mary Ann Barrows took a picture in 1961 of a dilapidated building on Mill Street, which she said would be torn down and become the site of a "modern public library."

The site was purchased by the library board, Nelle Hamilton, president; Mrs. Jean Pitts, secretary; Paul Gully, treasurer, with other board members Nora Burns, Corel Poling and W. O. Umstead.

Actual construction started on the current library in 1967 with the official dedication in 1968. Local businesses and individuals raised money for the 20% match for 80% federal dollars.

Contributions totaled $8,400, including the first $500 from the Grantsville Senior Woman's Club, who operated the first public library. The total cost of the project was $95,000.

This was a time when numerous civic organizations and businesses still existed in the community,with some of the donors listed: Calhoun Home Demonstration Council, Rubber Fabricators, Consolidated Supply, Grantsville Civic Club, R. C. Fleming, Grantsville Navy Mother's Club, Al and Pansy Baker, Grantsville Lions Club, Alfred B. Fersco Company, Grantsville Junior Woman's Club, Calhoun Insurance Agency, Gladys Stump, Frank Lee, Delbert and Jean Sears, Sally Yeager, West Virginia Telephone Company, State Construction and the Calhoun Chronicle.

Upon opening, the new library revealed a collection of 11,830 volumes, with "more books on the way."

In 1986 the effort to develop the second floor was made, a well utilized area that now includes West Virginia history in the Hamilton Room and Calhoun history in the Knotts Genealogy Room. The second floor includes two large meeting rooms with elevator access.

Today, the library has tens of thousands of volumes, computer services, FAX services, daily newspapers, research materials and dozens of special programs directed toward reading and educational development.

"The library is here for the community to use, young or old," says Grace Richards, president of the library board.

Tomorrow the library is seeking to pass a small operating levy that is needed to keep the doors open.

For most taxpayers, the increase in taxes will be the cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, each year.

"A library is a vital community service," said Richards. "We respectfully ask the taxpayers for their support for this small levy."

Hur Herald ©from Sunny Cal
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