What an interesting day I spent recently pouring over the minutes and records of the Huntsville Public Library Friends.  I also stopped by the library to look at the large brass plaques that are on the outside of the front of the building.  Additionally, the walls of the Genealogy Room have held the pictures of very special people who have made our public library what it is today.  

In 1967 our present library was opened as a result of the efforts of A.J. Beckham, Ed Sandhop, C.E. Allen, Mrs. Don Reid, Mrs. James L. Pickett (Gloria Wright) along with the first permanent library board comprised of Dr. Mac Woodward, Philip Gibbs, Mrs. Clint Hackney, Mrs. Raymond Davis, Mrs. Ed Sandhop, C.E. Allen and Helen Wheat. Those honored for their outstanding service to the library with pictures in the Genealogy Room include Helen Wheat, Juanita Lynch, Dr. Mac Woodward, LuEllen Gibbs, Janelle Paris, Mary Frances Park and Gene Myrick.  As you read further in this article you will be amazed to see the names of so many members of the Huntsville community who have supported and treasured our public library.

Today’s Friends’ board stands on the shoulders of those who served so well in the past.  A review of the Friends’ records all the way back to 1991 reveals the names of those who worked to make sure that our library served the public with diverse programs for children and  resources for the entire community.  The names I came across include: Teresa Cazort, Sam Hawkins, Morris Johnson, Linda Masters, Sophia Davis Oliphant, Trey Wharton, Mary Frances Park, Crys Miller, Joe Faulkner, Debra Pool, Beth Miles, Colleen Marks, Amalia Yates, Kay Deahl, Suzette Heath, Lisa Prier, Bonnie Thorne, Frances Reid, Travis Henderson, Judy Sugg, Lesta Burt Johnson, David O’Rear, Janelle Paris, Jane Monday, Ralph Davis, Helen Bass, Maureen McIntyre, Dr. James (Pete)Peterson, Margarito Martinez, Arlena McLaughlin, Joyce Bean, Frankie Grover, Melvin Mason, Larry Graves, David/Karen Van Eaton, Joyce Hilliard, Jan Davis, Fran Mote, Cheryl Patton, Frances Goforth, Gene Jolly, Burniece Harding, Sena Maddux, Gene Myrick, Mattie Jewel Walker, and Sylvia Bell.  Many of you will remember the “Sweet Feasts” that were held to raise money for the “new” library, which everyone looked forward to having but which failed to materialize when bond elections failed. The aforementioned individuals worked tirelessly to raise money, build the Friends’ membership and support the library in every way possible.  Hats off to all of those who have come before us!

The present board of the Huntsville Public Library Friends is composed of officers: Gene Myrick, Marie Hayden, Cynthia Netherly, Kermit Cummings, and Carol Williams, with Jim Balzaretti, Barbara Lewis, Mattie Jewel Walker, Nancy Franklin, Kay Mitchell, Karen Gillikin, Jane Monday, Doris Gimpel, Cheryl Spenser, Nancy Gaertner, Nancy Wilson and Sandy Welker rounding out the board.  As you may have noticed several of the present board members, have been active with the Friends for many years.  

During the library’s 40th anniversary in 2007 it was decided that a new effort would be made to increase membership in the Friends. Over the next two years membership rose to just more than 600 members.  When the Library Feasibility Committee made its report in March  2009 the Huntsville Public Library Friends committed to work to pass the bond for the new library and to raise the funds needed to furnish and equip the library.  The work of those who kept the dream alive in the past and those who work to see the dream fulfilled continues.  

Please become a part of the wonderful history of the Huntsville Public Library and have your name inscribed in the Book of Honor, and on a wall plaque or on the Wall of Honor. As members of the Friends and contributors to the renovated and expanded public library, you will join all of those past and present who make a difference in the life of our community.  

All donations should be made to the Huntsville Public Library Friends, Inc. and delivered or mailed to 1216 14th St., Huntsville, TX 77340.

Nancy Franklin is media coordinator for the Huntsville Public Library Friends.