History of the Anadarko Community Library
How it All Got Started
The first library in Anadarko was an Oklahoma Women’s Federation Library, which was kept on shelves at the Gish-Baker Furniture Store. The 1,000 volume Lyceum Traveling Library was sent to Anadarko in 1903. This collection plus forty more donated books became known as the “Philomathic Collection” and was kept in a small room in the American Democrat Office. The collection reached 1,400 volumes with books from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union “Book Shower, Philomathic purchases and community donations.
In 1907, the growing collection was moved to a room on North Fifth Street, which had a side street entrance. The Library Committee, the Philomathic Club, and the Commercial Club formed the Library Association. The object of the Association was to provide standard and current literature, and to provide a reading room and rest room for the general public. Membership in the Association was an annual fee of one dollar ($1) or a fee of ten dollars ($10) for a lifetime membership.
On March 18, 1907, a constitution was adopted and the library became known as the “Philomathic Library and Rest Room.” By 1912, the library had moved to a room in city hall, and became the Anadarko Public Library. The city council passed an ordinance in 1914 making Anadarko Public Library a department of the city; during this time a library board was appointed. The librarian earned a salary of one dollar ($1) a month. The Anadarko Public Library remained in city hall until 1936, the re-located into the Masonic Building.
The Big Move
In the mid-1980s the library began the move into an old Chevrolet auto garage and car dealership on West Broadway, across from the north side of the Caddo County Courthouse and next to the iconic Redskin Theatre. Many doubted that an old auto garage could be made into a library, but the old building blossomed into a beautiful, spacious, inviting place, retaining the vintage feeling of the original structure while adding the functionality of the new design. This larger site was ideal for the growing collection and provided physical access to all citizens; in less than a year the library raised $604,016 exceeding the original goal of $500,000. The moved gained momentum with the backing and support of the entire community though memorials, donations and fund-raisers.
One local business in particular, Hollytex Carpet Mill and its employees generously donated the Community Room. The Hollytex Community room was dedicated to long-time Hollytex employee, Marvin Elrod. Additionally a children’s library was donated by the Paul Allen Foundation in honor of Paul Allen’s mother, Faye Gardner-Allen, who worked in the library during her high school years. One particular feature is the children’s reading pit, which was once the grease pit of the auto garage.
The library’s wide-open lounge spaces provide natural light to the patrons from the panoramic windows features, highlighting the warm interior paint colors; with modern climate control the Library is a very pleasant place to be. The collection books were moved from the Masonic Temple using the “Book Brigade,” hundreds of people forming a hand-to-hand assembly line, into the library doors and onto the waiting shelves.
The Library Today
The Anadarko Community Library was formally opened in September of 1990. Since that time, the library has become fully automated and offers high speed internet access through desktops for adult and laptops for children; free WiFi; an advance state of the art video conference center; a document center for printing, cutting and laminating; a business suite of resources for typing, faxing and word processing; multiple collections of historical Caddo county documents and rare books by local authors.