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The Jackson County Library Story part 2

  • Written by 
The Jackson County Library Story part 2

The Library committees searched and finally found a lot on North Green Street which could be purchased for $10,000. Donofro and Associates was working on plans for a new building. The hope had been to complete the renovation by July 4th, 1976, but, of course, the new plan of action would not allow that to be possible. By now, the Friends of the Library, the Bicentennial Committee, the “Action ‘76” Steering Committee and many other committees were working feverishly to make this library project become a reality.

The initial estimate was that it would take $80,000 to build the new library with the plans the committees had accepted. That meant that there was a commitment for less than half of what would be needed. There was complete unity that this MUST be a County Library which would be affiliated with the Northwest Florida Regional Library System which offered greater resources and book volume to the library patrons. Inclusion under the Regional system would also open up other grant possibilities. Everyone continued to feel strongly that a County Library appeal had to be made to everyone in the county.

Committees were formed to make contacts county-wide to City Commissions, service clubs, civic clubs, schools, churches, everyone!

The contacts were made, and records show that the Marianna organizations and people, along with county-wide service clubs, schools, individuals, businesses, and interested county residents just made the money appear. One special project was selling “a square foot of the building” for $23.00! School children brought their pennies, nickels and dimes. People gave square feet in honor and memory of their loved ones. It was a great idea!

On July 4th, 1976, a ground-breaking was held for the new library on the lot purchased from William Callaway, located between the William Brunner home and the Foster Jennings home. As we got deeper and deeper into the project, it was obvious it was going to take much more than the original estimate. Of course, that meant more fund raising!!!

A wonderful scrapbook shows photos and write-ups about how almost every city in the county giving donations, almost every civic or service organization, churches, groups and individual after individual contributed. When it was looking like we were just not going to reach the goal in time, Mrs. Violet McLendon gave a CD which was maturing in the amount of $21,500. That left 15% of the needed funds to be raised. (You will note that the northeast corner room in the original library is called The Violet McLendon Room---for obvious reasons!) THE MONEY WAS RAISED!!! IT WAS OBVIOUSLY A GREAT TEAM EFFORT!

After all this hard work, the Jackson County Public Library was dedicated on November 20th, 1977. It was A BIG DEAL!!! The DAR gave a flag which had flown over the Capitol in Washington, raised by the ROTC, the Marianna High School Band performed; dignitaries spoke, including Mr. Robert Williams who was serving as the Florida Deputy Secretary of State. The $125,000 library building was given to the County----debt-free!

The plaque by the entrance of the Library states: Built by the people of Jackson County as their primary Bi-Centennial project. 1976-77 Jackson County Heritage Association

The Bicentennial Library started with 8,000 books and periodicals and equipment which could be used by county residents which had never been available before! A bookmobile was made available by a local dealership to be used until the County’s arrived in December.

The bookmobile immediately had a schedule taking it to Sneads, Grand Ridge, Cypress, Cottondale, Alford, Round Lake, and Graceville, then to Campbellton, Greenwood, Two Egg, Dellwood and Malone. A library branch was soon established in Graceville. IT WAS A GOOD PROJECT!!!

Well, the library grew by leaps and bounds and by the early 90’s, about 13 years later, it was bursting at the seams! In 1992, the County extended the building many times over its original square footage and they purchased the land lying west of the building for parking.

Today the library houses approximately 64,000 books, 25 computers and currently averages lending over 5,000 books per month. The bookmobile is not currently being used.

Between January 2012 and January 2013 the library book circulation increased by 44%. That is quite remarkable!

Those figures do not count all the special programs held throughout the year. Tutoring on all levels is done daily. Local artists display their art work, many displays are featured, children’s programs are held, and right now there is a knitting class going on. There was a concert there recently. All sorts of things happen at the Library on Green Street. It’s like a bee-hive in there. People getting books, using the computers, researching, all sorts of things, constantly!

If you wonder what happened to “The Little Green House”--- after a couple of years, it was sold to the Bert Miller Family for $10. Ducky Johnson moved the house to Greenwood, it was totally restored, and you can find it today, sitting proudly on Allen Street near downtown Greenwood!

It is the writer’s desire that everyone understand the love and dedication that has gone into the Library since its conception. All of us “Old Timers” would like for everyone to know how much we appreciate the County for seeing a real need of the people and keeping it funded over these 36 years. Also, our most sincere appreciation to the many people who have worked, and are still working so hard to make these services available to the people of Jackson County, both paid staff and volunteers. The Friends of the Library are very active supporters and always welcome memorials and honorarium contributions. So many people have worked very hard to make this wonderful project a true success.

I think we have truly proven that “Jackson County did need a Liberry”…and I just hope everyone will agree that those involved with the Jackson County Library Project from the 50’s until now should be applauded!

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