The idea for the Henryetta Public Library began in 1904 when an interested group of citizens, known as the Bide-a-Wee Club, formed to improve the civic life of the community. In 1905, it reorganized as the Library Club with the sole purpose of establishing a public library.
The library was soon established in a little 3-room building on the corner of 6th and Trudgeon, built by W.B. Hudson as a private high school run by Mrs. Hudson. $1 a year was charged for library cards, and teachers at the school shelved and circulated the books.
In 1910 the library came under the jurisdiction of the city and appointed a library board consisting of Mrs.:
- J.W. Dorsey
- H.C. Fellows
- J.P. Fowler
- W.B. Hudson
- H.G. Woodrow
Free Public Library
In 1920, it became a free public library supported by public funds and moved to the Boy Scout building on Trudgeon Street.
1st Library Building
The 1st building designed and built as a public library building was built in 1924 at a cost of $8,095 on the northwest corner of 6th and Division Streets. It was a “butterfly plan,” designed by Raymond Kerr, architect, and Mrs. Francis Threadgill, librarian. The library remained in the building until 1966.
2nd Library Building
When the United States Post Office planned a new building on 5th and Division, the City of Henryetta began making inquiries and requests regarding the procurement of the building to use as a library. In 1965, the federal government donated the building and land to the City of Henryetta with the stipulation that it be used as an educational facility for at least 20 years.
The librarian, Mrs. Grover Bynum, City Manager, Richard Curry, and Earl Wells, along with representatives from the Tulsa Library and the Oklahoma State Library began making plans for renovation of the Post Office building. The committee submitted a proposal to the State Library that was approved for a $7,000 matching funds grant to pay for the renovations, furniture and new shelving. Approximately 10 months of hard work and $14,000 brought the building up to the standards set by the requirements of the grant.
The library’s 17,000 books were moved into the new facility in January of 1966 and opened shortly thereafter. The Library celebrated National Library Week, April 17 – 23, 1966, with a week-long celebration.
The formal Grand Opening occurred on June 11 and 12, 1966, and included an art show in cooperation with the local Art Association. Retiring Library Board members, Earl Wells and James Watzke, were honored at the June 12 open house celebration. Earl Wells served on the Library Board from 1922 until 1966 and spearheaded the renovations on the new library building. James Watzke served from 1937 to 1965. All other past and present board members were also honored at the open house.
Current Building & Location
The Henryetta Public Library is still located on the northeast corner of 6th and Main Streets in the old Post Office building built in 1935. Many changes and additions have been made in the 33 years since it moved to this location. In the 1980s the Friends of the Library group raised money to replace the original windows with new double-paned, bronze reflective glass windows. In 1996, a donation from Miss Kathryn Boerstler enabled the library to purchase aluminum mini blinds for all of the windows to cut down on the glare from the afternoon sun and to prolong the life of the books on the shelves.
Our 1st computer to be available to the public also joined the library in 1996, along with access to the internet (the worldwide web). Gregory Rodriguez, former Henryetta citizen, initially generated fund raising and community interest in computers in the library and a computer was purchased with contributions from First Family Federal Credit Union, First National Bank, and many interested citizens. We now have 5 computers available to the public. We have internet access via a T1 line as 1 of 5 public access sites for the Okmulgee County Electronic Village (OCEV), a county wide coalition of business, industry, and private and civic organizations, to provide electronic access to our county.
We are currently in the process of putting our card catalog on computer; a project made possible by the generous donations and continued support of American Exchange Bank. We will soon bid goodbye to our card catalog and begin doing circulation and cataloging directly on the computer.
This history was written by Ruby Wesson on March 3, 1999 and updated June 6, 2002.