First organized effort to obtain a Public Library for Humboldt was made in 1923, but nothing concrete came of it. It was not until late in 1953 that practical and workable plans were formulated out of which materialized our present Public Library.
The War Memorial Corp., a part of the local American Legion, offered quarters, rent free to house a library in the War Memorial Building. The Humboldt Woman's Club then proceeded to set up a Board of Directors. This board met with the Board of Aldermen who proved to be most interested and co-operative in the new project. This Board of Aldermen was composed of H. Herndon, A.X. Hunt, S.A. Barrix, L.D. Nowell and Ed Stobaugh.
Library operating expenses were to be provided by the city of Humboldt. An additional sum of $1500 was given by the city for equipment. The Humboldt Woman's Club gave over $2250 more to be used for furnishings, making a total of about $3750 for desks, tables, chairs, cabinets and shelvings.
The West Tenn. Regional Library offered every possible assistance, even to the point of cataloging and technically setting the Library up for public use. They also gave us about 2000 books, very fine books of indefinite loan. The citizens of Humboldt rallied to the cause. The Humboldt Public Library opened its doors for the reading public on April 27, 1954. On its shelves were some 3750 volumes, gathered from the West Tenn. Regional Library Service, money given by the Humboldt Woman's Club, Humboldt Civic Clubs and interested individuals. Great care was taken that only worth-while and genuinely useful books were accepted. This policy has been assiduously pursued.
The Women's Club quoted "We were of the opinion that our city could and would actually use and value a Public Library. However, this was only a matter of opinion, we did not know for certain that such would be the case. Only time could answer that question and I confess that we felt some trepidation - after all, a small group of people had made an awful lot of noise. We had insisted on and obtained a sizeable sum of the tax-payer's money and we could only hope and pray that it would be money well spent, for the improvement and enjoyment of the folks of our community.
Our fears were groundless. From the very first day, it was demonstrated that people of all ages love to read. The radio, T.V., the automobile and sports have not supplanted the book as a diversion. Our records confirm this."
In March of 1954, a courteous lady, Mrs. Weldon Oliver, a local Humboldt lady, college graduate, and teacher of some 13 years experience, came to the Humboldt Public Library as the Librarian. She, along with the help of the West Tenn. Regional Library Service, prepared the library for its debut. Her deep love and concern for the Library was a tremendous factor in its initial success.
Anyone within the trade area of Humboldt was, and is eligible to make application and the territory was very well covered.
The Annie Laurie James Genealogy Room at the Humboldt Public Library has provided a source of help to genealogists since its dedication on October 20, 1992. Mrs. C.C. James, better known as Nan, has been a force and a tremendous resource for this library endeavor. The diminutive size of this room, located off the conference room, belies its importance.
In this small space, census records, books on families, reference books on how to research a family tree or member, cemetery records, as well as census records and Courier Chronicle on microfilm are housed there. Many people from the surrounding area, and many from out-of-state, find that the Humboldt Public Library is one of the best small library resources from Humboldt to Memphis.
By 1960... (City adopts Orphan Library)
The Humboldt Public Library celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Sunday May 2nd 2004, at the library with a program of recognition of past directors and board members.