Public Library service in Edmonson County had a modest beginning in the fall of 1954. Through the Friends of Kentucky Libraries and the State Library Extension Division, a bookmobile and 986 books were donated to the county.
The “traveling library” was welcomed enthusiastically by schools and rural patrons alike. During that first year, twenty-one schools and half a dozen community stops were visited twice a month. At the school stops, many children picked out books for parents and older brothers and sisters who were not able to come to meet the bookmobile.
During the summer of 1955, a small room at the back of a bank was rented as a central library. This library was open only on Saturdays, and 35 to 50 books per day was a large circulation. Sadie McCombs was the Librarian and bookmobile operator.
In December of 1956, the library was legally established and it would seem that its problems should be over. However, the library had been plagued with financial difficulties from the very beginning. Because the library could never be certain of receiving its operation funds, the Library Board thought it best to use funds to keep the bookmobile on the road, rather than investing in more books and an expanded program which would soon end for lack of funding. This policy made it possible to operate the bookmobile for two years on funds which were donated in only one year. But by September 1, 1958, the library had to close and the bookmobile was no longer running.
Most of the schools at that time did not have their own books. Since the bookmobile was not running the students had to do without books. This caused a clamoring for the Library Project to begin operation again.
As the public began to realize the value the library had been to the community, it got behind a movement to reopen the library. Citizens’ groups met with the Fiscal Court and Board of Education to enlist their support. Schools had various programs to raise money for the Library fund. PTA, the Lions Club, Homemaker’s Club, and other civic organizations, as well as many individuals, contributed funds, and in February of 1959, the bookmobile was again on the road.
July 28, 1960, the City council leased the Roy Wells Garage building to the library Board, located on the corner of Washington and Green Streets. The building, along with the library, housed a community room and the Fire Department. In 1970 the building was completely renovated. This was made possible through available grant money.
In 1967 a taxing district was established to support the library. For the first time, the library had a secure income, and could plan a working budget to finance its services to the county.
The library continued to operate in the same building until September 2008. At this time, the library was moved to a new building located on Ferguson Street. The new building was made possible through the efforts of Judge Executive N.E. Reed, Fiscal Court, and City Council. Fiscal Court received grants to build the building and the City Council donated the ground. The building houses the Library, a Technology Center, and Senior Center.
From one bookmobile and 986 books, time has brought a tremendous change in our library. In 2005 we received a new bookmobile, have 17 computers available for public use, books on tape, DVDs, and many other resources available for the people in our county.