by Marie Hillyer
Piggott residents have enjoyed the privilege of good reading materials, readily available, since the first library opened in 1932.
The present facility was dedicated on Sunday, Dec 9, 1984, and opened to patrons the following day. Ground breaking was held in July of that year; and the library is built on the site of the old ice house and soda manufacturing plant. An interesting and unexplained article was discovered when the footing was being dug. Jerry Green unearthed an old cannon ball. The present library contains about 5,000 square feet of space and was constructed at a cost of $142,850, with $70,000 raised locally. The remainder was financed by the sale of the old library building, in addition to a federal grant. Don Roeder was chairman of the board. Other members were J. B. Swift, Mrs. Donna Seal, Mrs. Shirley Magee, Mrs. Tica Camp and Dorris Cox.
Piggott has always had citizens who are interested in progress and who want the best for the youth of the town. The first Piggott Library came into existence because the ladies of the Piggott Civic Club saw the need for such a service in the early 1930s. A productive meeting of the club was held in the home of Mrs. Charles (Lelah) Gilbert at that time. Mrs. Lura Brown offered a room in her house on Third Street (where the Piggott Eye Clinic is now). Work began immediately, and in 1932 the library opened in her home with an impressive 1,652 volumes. Most books were donated and some were bought with donated funds. The library was tended by Mrs. Brown with the help of her three children, Lucille, Gaylon and Frances.
Five years later plans for a brick building (now housing the office of Atty. John Lingle) were begun. Committee members were Dr. J. E. McGuire, Mrs. W. T. Adams, Mrs. J. L. Robertson, Mr. Ralph McNiel, Miss Ella Mower and Mrs. Laura Brown. Robert Turner, National Youth Administration supervisor suggested applying for government aid and this was done. Those appointed to the fund raising committee were Mrs. Lura Brown, Miss Ayleene Spence, Karl Pfeiffer, Mrs. R. C Tucker, Mrs. T. W. Leggett, Miss Ora McGhee, Mrs. Earl Conner, Mrs. H. C. Robbins, Mrs. Charles Gilbert and Mrs. E. H. Ballard.
On June 16, 1937, a meeting was held at the office of Miss Ella Mowery. Atty. Arthur Sneed met with them to discuss the making of the deed of the Selma Lentz Morrison property where the library building was to be erected. The library board of directors were sworn in by Mayor Charles Kelly on June 25, 1937. They were Dr. J. E. McGuire, Mrs. W. T. Adams, Mrs. P.M. Pfeiffer, R. C. Tucker and Mrs. Lura Brown. Dr. McGuire appointed R. c. Tucker and Mrs. Karl Pfeiffer on the building committee. Forman over the construction was B. B. Cravens. The National Youth Administration furnished most of the labor and part of the material. Funds were raised by the residents in the amount of $1,636 with Mr. and Mrs. Paul M. Pfeiffer giving a matching gift of $818. It is thought the Pfeiffers also paid for lot, but the transaction was not recorded. The building cost was estimated at $4,000. Grand opening had to be held at the Baptist Church across the street as the crowd was too big for the library building.
Mrs. Brown served as librarian in the new facility until the spring of 1940. Following her resignation, Miss Ruth Gwin became librarian and served until 1965. Miss Gwin was vitally interested in young people. She organized the first Girl Scout troop here in the early 1940s with the girls meeting at the library. Miss Gwin, beloved of all the library patrons, died Aug. 30, 1983, at the age of 85.
Mrs. L. D. Robinson was appointed librarian after Miss Gwin retired in 1965 and served until her death in August of 1981. She was also high school librarian at Piggott from 1960 to 1970. Her dream for Piggott was a library big enough to accommodate all the books and equipment needed to make the library one of the best in the state.
Mrs. Gay Johnson, present Library Director, began her work here Oct. 5, 1981. She is ably assisted by Sherry Baber, and Haley Foster.The library offers many services including a children's summer reading program with around 100 participants.
This story appeared in the Piggott Times Newspaper and is reprinted by permission.