Glasgow / Barren County’s Public Library History
Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library

 

The history of the Glasgow, Barren County public library began in 1916 with books in the window of the Orr Drugstore and seven charter members who donated a book and paid a $3.20 annual membership fee. These pioneering members included: Mrs. Dora Terry, Miss Bettie Bybee, Mrs. Ben Myers, Mrs. D.B. Strange, Miss Margaret Pedigo, and Mrs. Powell Barlow. Mrs. Terry donated a room above Folk’s Department Store until a fire necessitated a move to West Washington Street. Two years later, there were three hundred books and a location above Tom Dickey’s grocery store. By 1924, the yearly fee was $1.00 per year, 100 new members added and a move next door to Third National Bank. Liberty College, and eleven hundred books, became home in 1928, with one final move to the new Glasgow High School prior to the College Street facility. More funds became necessary to run and expand the library. In Glasgow Library History, Mrs. B.F. Myers describes a particularly crucial person in the library’s growth: “Mrs. Frank Richardson is the mother of the Glasgow Library. It was her pet child as long as she lived.” “She baked as many as 20 hams and served them on the courthouse yard during the Street Fairs…her and other ladies’ efforts kept the library open.”

 

Dr. C.C. Turner, Richard L. Garnett, Joseph A. Gaines, Mrs. E.C. Nichels, Mrs. E.E. Harpst and Mrs. C.M. Foster next incorporated the Glasgow Library Association in 1937. Its goals were: to establish, acquire or hold and operate a library in the city of Glasgow; to publish and distribute books, pamphlets or education or informational matter…operating and maintaining a library or libraries, and disseminating information and encouraging education and art.

 

In 1944, Dr. W.A. Weldon and his wife India Bass Weldon deeded an apartment building at 107 West College Street to the Glasgow Library Association, which led to a name change to Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library. It was to serve Glasgow and Barren County with a fifteen-member board, with one member a supervisor. Dr. J.W. Weldon served as supervisor many years and was the liaison between the corporation and the legislative bodies of Glasgow, Barren County, and the Extension Division of Kentucky. Dr. W. A. Weldon ultimately gave the adjoining apartment building, as well as a garage located between the buildings, which he had renovated in 1958 to serve as the regional facility to process books and restock area bookmobiles.

 

The City of Glasgow passed referendums in 1951 for free library service as established by Kentucky Revised Statute 173.310, sec (2). By 1954, the county voted to support bookmobile service, and the Fiscal Court signed a contract with the board for library service on September 20, 1955. In 1957, Cave City requested a branch library, which existed until 1980.

 

The bookmobile has served rural Barren County since 1952, and was financially assisted by the Rotary Club and Barren County Board of Education until the 1954 referendum granting municipal funding was passed. Under Supervisor Dr. J.W. Weldon, the Barren County Homemakers worked to place a plebiscite to vote on the question of supporting bookmobile service for Barren County. At one point, forty-seven rural schools received bookmobile service.  The 1957 report mentions the establishment of book stations ranging from Etoile, Cooktown, Lucas, and Hiseville, to Park City.  Miss Verne Martin was the first bookmobile librarian, followed by Lucille Fitzgerald, Marjorie Palmore, Bonnie Curd, Lenora Metcalfe and Martha Nell Thomas.

 

In 1968, the Mary Wood Weldon Memorial Library, Inc., members were: Uhel O. Barrickman, George J. Ellis, Miss Bess Howard, Mrs. Cecil Wilson, LeRoy Underwood, Mrs. Kenneth (Ruby) Smith, Mrs. T.L. Hatchett, H.H. Barlow, R.L. Garnett, Robert Follis, Leslie Moran, Ralph Patterson, Taylor McCoy, Mrs. James Newberry and Miss Lee Smith. The property board remained after 1969, but leadership of the library changed to a Board of Trustees appointed by the Fiscal Court, and a certified librarian was required to continue to receive aid from the state. State funds of $140,000 paid for a renovation and expansion that joined the buildings into one facility. Employees packed and moved the entire library to the old Armory and back, with a re-opening on December 1, 1972. In 2009 the library moved to 1530 South Green Street.

 

The library directors, in order of their terms of service, have been: Laura Lauderdale in 1917; Miss Bettie Bybee, 1918 to 1930; Mrs. W. Frank Richardson, Sr., 1931 to 1936; Mrs. Rose Ross, 1937 to 1949; Mrs. Jennie Jean Jones, 1940 to 1968; Mrs. Clay Coleman, 1968 to 1972; William F. Tuceling, 1972 to 1973; Jim Hyatt, 1973 to 2008; and Lynn Andrew from 2008 to the present.