The first public library in Graham was started in 1911 by the women’s club known as the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Club (CLSC) of Graham. This library first was located in a corner of Morrison’s store on the square in downtown Graham.
The City of Graham took the library over, making it a department of the city in 1924. For a time, the library was in the Young County Courthouse. When the Graham Memorial Auditorium was built in the mid-1930s the library occupied a room in that building staying there until 1968 when it was moved to 1100 Cherry Street.
The building at 1100 Cherry Street was built as a youth center in 1939-1940 during the Depression by a federal agency known as the National Youth Administration. Many local service clubs and individuals helped. During World War II, the building served as a Red Cross center where civil defense equipment and supplies were stored.
After WWII the building was acquired by the Graham Independent School District. For several years, it served as the Shawnee School Annex Building during which there were many classrooms in it.
In 1968 when the Graham Public Library first moved into 1100 Cherry Street it occupied only one of the three wings which the building then consisted of. It grew by 1972 into all three wings. In 1976-1977 the library was selected by the Bicentennial committee of Graham as a special project in celebration of the 200th anniversary of our country. About $250,000 was raised by the citizens of the area and from the City of Graham to add two more large rooms (a total of 3,000 additional square feet) to the library enlarging the building to 11,000 square feet.
In March 1991 the Bertha Foundation of Graham, a philanthropic foundation of the E. Bruce Street and M. Boyd Street families startled the Graham Public Library Board of Trustees with an offer to donate $1.2 million to build a new library to replace the old one which was by then bursting at the seams.
Groundbreaking for the new “Library of Graham” was held on April 28, 1992, with construction starting in August 1992. The building was designed principally by Alan Magee of the Fort Worth architectural firm of Schutts, Magee, and Riddle Architects and constructed by the firm of Pete Durant & Associates also of Fort Worth contains about 14,000 square feet. Besides the gift from the Bertha Foundation for the building which neared $1.5 million by the time the building opened on January 15, 1994, other costs for furnishings and equipment were borne by the City of Graham taxpayers ($200,000) and from a general fundraising totaling about $165,000. The total cost of The Library of Graham was almost $2 million. Replacement costs of the library’s almost 45,000 books and other items totaled about another $2 million, making the Library of Graham an asset worth $4 million.
The Library of Graham, at its opening on January 15, 1994, had more than 37,000 books, 5,000 videocassettes tapes, 900 audiocassette tapes, and many microfilmed and hard back books as well as many current periodicals and newspapers. There was space available for at least a 25% growth in the number of library materials available to the community. The library was automated, the card catalog gave way to the computer on which the library materials were quickly located. The library started with the Dynix automated system, also used by Fort Worth Public Library and soon by the Kemp Public Library in Wichita Falls. It was used by more libraries than any other, and the electronic card catalog maintained the records of who had what materials checked out, and when they were due. Other new equipment provided by the library for its patrons included three stand-alone computers with word processing, spreadsheet and accounting software.
Today’s Library of Graham is still a source of pride for the community. Many local groups socialize and hold their meetings at the library. The children of Graham hold a special place in the heart of the library. School-age kids enjoy an entertaining Summer Reading Program and toddlers learn stories and songs during Preschool Story Time during the school year.
Whatever your reading needs are, educational or recreational, the Library of Graham is here and, in the future, to serve you.