History of Grapevine Public Library 1951-1970

Tarrant County Bookmobile
Tarrant County bookmobile, undated (from Pinterest.com)

This week we continue the history of Grapevine Public Library from 1951 to 1970.

By 1951, Grapevine’s population had grown to 1,850. Mrs. Gertie Hurst had been the librarian for ten years. In October, the Tuesday Study Club began sponsoring a story telling hour for preschoolers at the library each month with stories, songs, games, and refreshments. These events proved quite popular; the average attendance was 15 children. Mrs. Hurst also started the Memorial Fund, which contained about $50. A desk, the first piece of furniture, was donated by the Fort Worth Public Library.

At the Texas Library Association convention in 1954, Tarrant County was recognized as being among one of the top county libraries in Texas. The county bookmobile had been visiting Grapevine on the first Monday of each month. “The real work of the bookmobile is in our rural schools,” the Grapevine Sun reported in April, “where every school community or township is served better by bookmobile, school library or a branch as we have.”

Grapevine’s population increased to 2,600 by 1957. In February, library hours were changed to Monday and Wednesday 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. according to Mrs. Hurst. The library moved to its seventh home during its 34-year period of service, this time to 430 S. Main. The Volunteer Fire Department helped with the move. In September, the Bay View Club, Home Demonstration Club, ’36 Club, Tuesday Study Club, and Garden Club purchased a fan for the library.

Site of the library in 1957. The place is now occupied by the OIG Interiors Group. Photo by Mardita Murphy.

Long-time librarian Mrs. Gertie C. Hurst passed away in April 1958. She had served for 18 years. In May, Mrs. Joe F. Cason was appointed librarian by Mr. Arless Nixon, director of Fort Worth Public Library. Mrs. Cason enlisted teenage volunteers to conduct story hours for the summer reading club. Fort Worth continued to provide quarterly rotating collections of 100 to 200 books. The Tuesday Study Club purchased a typewriter for the library. 1,549 books and magazines were loaned to Grapevine Library users during June. The population then stood at about 2,700.     

In September 1958, the Tuesday Study Club donated a wooden table and four chairs for the children’s area in memory of Mrs. Hurst.  “Miss Gertie”, as she had been known to the children she entertained at story times, had wanted appropriate and comfortable equipment for children who visited the library, and so the Club decided to donate this furniture to honor her request.

Mrs. Elizabeth Morris became librarian in 1962. During her first year of service, the library was moved from the then-Tax Office at 430 S. Main back to City Hall at 413 Main Street and its eighth home. On January 16, a group of ladies headed by Mrs. R. G. Lyford asked Council if they could work with them in repairing or remodeling the Civic Center building on Main Street. The group was asked to form a committee to meet with Council in February and express their thoughts and ideas on moving the library in with the Civic Center, and how it could be remodeled and repaired to improve the library and Center. When the Council met on February 6, it agreed to drop the idea of moving the library to the Center after a committee representing the Civic Center League presented a petition signed by Grapevine citizens. The signers had been interested in the building of the Center in 1953, and they protested the use of the center for a library. Instead, they wanted the space to continue to be used by the Teen Club. The Council secretary was instructed to contact Grapevine business owner Mr. Ted Willhoite in reference to a price to be charged for use of his building for the library.

Librarian Mrs. Elizabeth Morris, Grapevine Sun, November 4, 1965 

Mrs. Morris was asked by Council on June 19 to meet with them at the next meeting and explain how much the library was being used, the number of books checked out, the number of periodicals furnished by Fort Worth, etc. A suggestion was made for the mayor, city secretary, and all aldermen who could go, to meet with the Commissioners Court and ask that they help with the library operations. At the July 17 Council meeting, a motion was made by Alderman William Floyd Deacon to write the school board and explain the change in operation of the public library, and to see if they would share part of the operating expenses on a 60/40 basis, with the City paying 60 percent and the school board paying 40 percent. These percentages were arrived at by calculating that about 60 percent of library circulation was used by the citizens within the city limits of Grapevine, and the remaining 40 percent of the circulation was outside of the City. This motion was seconded and carried. In August, the City had plans to continue operating the library. Ted Willhoite was to be asked regarding City installation of an air conditioner in the library.

In January 1964, the Tarrant County Commissioners Court did not renew the contract with the Fort Worth Public Library to provide library services. Previously, the librarian had been allowed to order books through the extension department in Fort Worth. As part of the changes, the Grapevine Library remained open but the rotation of new books from Fort Worth every six months was discontinued. The City now paid the librarian’s salary, rent, utilities, and periodical subscriptions. At the April Council meeting, Mr. Tom French discussed the idea of designating the Grapevine Public Library as the official archives for the preservation of materials pertaining to the community’s history. Council authorized the City Librarian to accept, organize, and preserve historical materials that may be contributed, and to make them available for research and study to all serious students of community history. The librarian was also responsible for appropriating sufficient funds to build suitable cabinets for these materials.

In July 1964, new steel library shelving was purchased with funds totaling $166 from the ’36 Club annual silver teas, and was assembled by several Grapevine residents. The Club had previously bought a Formica-topped checkout desk, children’s shelves, an adding machine, and a clock.

By 1965, Grapevine had a population of over 5,000. In April of that year, Council discussed appointing a library board to act in an advisory capacity to the library and Council. Those appointed to the board were Mrs. Nona French, Mrs. Mary Ruth Tate, Mrs. Mary Virginia Simmons, Miss Nancy Armstrong, Herbert Huber (chairman), and Mr. Guy S. Benedict. A new memorial book collection of books purchased in memory of friends or loved ones was also established. The library became part of the City Charter as a City department. In November it moved to the building vacated by the Police Department, north of City Hall. In its continuing support of the library, the Tuesday Study Club donated a set of the World Book Encyclopedia.

Left photo: Mrs. Mike Albano and Mrs. Bill Crabtree present the World Book Encyclopedia to Mrs. Morris. Grapevine Sun, November 25, 1965

Right photo: Left, Mrs. Elizabeth Morris; right, Mrs. E. A. Florence. Grapevine Sun, May 4, 1967

Mrs. Morris resigned in 1967 after six years of service, and Mrs. E. A. (Florence) Florence became the new librarian on May 1. The library was then open from 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first card catalog was started using shoe boxes to house the cards. The County Commissioners Court was subsidizing the library for $2,000 a year. The Texas State Library awarded a $55,000 grant to set up a central processing center at Fort Worth Public Library that acquired, classified, cataloged, processed, and delivered books to 19 area libraries, including Grapevine. Also at this time, the Texas State Library was sending boxes of books to different libraries which would circulate them for a year and then return them to the State Library. In August, Mrs. Karen (Tate) Fewell accepted the librarian position. New library hours were Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m., Fridays from 1 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In May 1968, the library added a new collection – circulating paperbacks. Mrs. Fewell also welcomed donations of these items as well. Also, during that month an organizational meeting was held for the Friends of the Library. The new volunteer organization planned programs for the summer reading club using volunteers. Grapevine’s population had increased to about 6,000.

Mrs. Karen Fewell (seated), and volunteer Lisa French. Grapevine Sun, August 4, 1967

On February 1, 1970, Mrs. Maxine Eidson was named librarian, replacing Mrs. Caroline (Cason) Rudolph, who moved to Fort Worth in January that year after serving as librarian since 1969. Mrs. Rudolph’s mother, Mrs. Joe F. Cason, had served as librarian from May 1958 through 1961. In March the library installed a book drop so items could be returned when the building was closed. The 1970 census showed Grapevine’s population at 7,513.

Next time we will continue the history of the Grapevine Public Library from 1971 to 1990.

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