Willow Springs Public Library History
Thu, 05/19/2022 - 9:58am admin
Lacy Shwien, Library Director
The first library in Willow was organized by “The Wednesday Club” in 1912 in a room above the Russ Grocery Store on the corner of Second and Center streets. The space above the store also housed the telephone switchboard office. The shelves were filled with donated copies of used books. Times were hard and as the donated books wore out, there was no money to replace them so the library closed in 1926.
May 2, 1939, 8:15pm: Nine ladies and two gentlemen gathered in the elegant Horton Hotel on the corner of First and Center Streets. The two-story brick edifice that sat across from the Frisco rail depot was considered the best hotel between Springfield and Memphis.
The world was finally moving out of the Great Depression. FDR was in his 2nd term as president. Hitler had invaded Austria (think The Sound of Music) though World War II would not officially begin until September.
The group – probably settled comfortably in the hotel’s fine dining room – consisted of seven of the nine members of the Board of Directors for the Public Library of Willow Springs and the four members of the Library Committee of the Business & Professional Women’s Club. They were gathered to re-establish a library for Willow Springs.
Newly elected temporary board chairman, Lester Belford called the meeting to order. Secretary Augusta Rush read the minutes of the last meeting held a week earlier on April 24. They were to this effect:
Franceline Lovan, Chairman of the Business & Professional Women’s Club Library Committee explained what the committee had accomplished regarding the establishment of a library in Willow Springs. Lester Belford was unanimously elected to serve as temporary chairman. Individuals were tasked with looking into the legal aspects of creating a permanent organization, drawing up by-laws, getting donations, making reports, and visiting other libraries to get information on proper library procedure.
The minutes were approved.
In the week since that meeting the temporary board members had been busy. They had gathered information and created reports which they now shared. By-laws, rules, and regulations were read and adopted unanimously. Franceline Lovan reported that the City Council would partition the front part of the upstairs room in the City Hall to house the library and that the public school’s music room had extra shelving material the library could use.
A motion was made and seconded that a public meeting be called for the perfection of the Willow Springs Public Library Association; set for May 8, 7:30pm at City Hall. The motion was carried and the meeting was adjourned.
Stay tuned for part two next week!