Lebanon Library celebrates 75th anniversary

Staff Reports • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:20 PM

The Lebanon Wilson County Library recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. A ceremony and book signing helped commemorate the occasion. Local authors Ann Walsh, Dorcas Graham and former Sheriff Terry Ashe each signed copies of their books during the afternoon festivities.

The library, which opened Sept. 5, 1938, was presented a proclamation by Gov. Bill Haslam along with local Reps. Mark Pody and Susan Lynn, as well as Sen. Mae Beavers.

The planning stages of the library began on Valentine’s Day 1938 with the appointment of a library committee through the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Lebanon. In May of that year, books began arriving and the board saw furniture being donated soon after.

The library’s first location was on South Greenwood Street. Around the time of its anniversary, the library had a collection of more than 2,000 titles. Citizens registered for library cards numbered 203 children, 533 adults and 50 teachers.

The first librarian was Josephine Wright, who served from Aug. 1, 1938 to the end of the first year.

After several moves to various locations in Lebanon including a Home Demonstration Club and the Veterans Memorial Home on West Main Street, the decision was made to build a permanent library facility.

Mary Harkreader Carson Shipp had willed the City of Lebanon a piece of property on the corner of Hatton Avenue and West Main Street, and the library board approached Lebanon Mayor Charles Loyd and County Judge Turner Evans. The county appropriated $20,000 and the city $10,000 toward the construction of the facility. A 3,200 square foot facility was opened Jan. 31, 1965. Two expansions have occurred at the library since its opening, one in 1983 and a second in 1991.

Alesia Burnley is the current library director, and the library now has an annual circulation of more than 275,000 items.

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