In (belated…) observance of National Library Week (or, “to extend this glorious celebration even further”…) an offering on what was apparently Watauga County’s first public library is presented below.
Interestingly, one source (*) indicates that “very little can be found out about the beginnings of a public library in Watauga County” before the 1930s WPA projects which constructed the “old” Watauga County building at Waters Street and Queen Street… however, this chance find in the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper from 1903 indicates that there were the beginnings of a public library much earlier!
First Public Library at Boone
“The Public Library.
It has been our pleasure to examine the first enstallment [sic] of books for the public library at Boone, sent by sent by the Rev. W.R. Savage, of Blowing Rock. There are 122 volumes, neatly bound and are all by our choicest authors, and contain a vast amount of information that is at your disposal for the asking, for the present, at least. This is indeed a very handsome and valuable gift from Mr. Savage, and now it is the duty of our people to do all they can to carry on the work begun by this good man, by contributing as many volumes as possible to the library. Or, if you have no books to spare, place a little of the coin of the realm in the hands of the treasurer who will be appointed a little later, and it will soon make its appearance on the library shelves in the shape of good, clean literature, all of which will be elevating to the reader. For just a small contribution in either books or cash from everyone in this vicinity who should be interested, would insure us a library of 1,000 volumes or more in the near future.
For the present the library will be kept at the residence of Mrs. Alice Councill, for the convenience of Mrs. Boyden, the Librarian, but early in the spring neat rooms will be fitted up for its accommodation, which we hope will assume large proportions. The rules, regulations, etc., to govern it will be published later, but in the mean time go to work for this noble undertaking which can be made, our schools accepted, the most beneficial of anything we could possibly put within the reach of our people. Mrs. Boyden extends a general invitation to all to call and examine the books.”
– From the Watauga Democrat newspaper, Thursday, Dec. 3, 1903
* The Heritage of Watauga County, North Carolina, Vol. I (1984).