About Us

The nucleus of the Washington County Public Library was actually planted in September of 1955 when Miss Margaret Willis, then District Supervisor of Kentucky's Library Services, met with representatives from Boyle, Casey and Washington Counties. At this meeting, it was agreed that the three counties would share “a green truck” donated by Handmacker-Vogel, Inc., which, with one driver, Mrs. Gertrude Smith, would work two days a week in each county taking reading material to the public, particularly to those in rural areas. In April 1962, the “green truck” was exchanged for a larger bookmobile which served the counties well; however, the needs of the people could not be satisfactorily supported by the bookmobile alone. A community library for individual county was the solution, but it was known from past experience that an adequate library could not be supported and maintained by one single organization. Some form of permanent support on a local lever was necessary with both the State and Federal government contributing. “How do we go about making the solution a reality?” That as the question in Washington County in 1962.

In that year, a group of civic minded citizens organized to work toward securing new public library. With encouragement and advice from Miss Margaret Willis and her staff, the Springfield Women’s Club spearheaded a campaign to obtain an affirmative vote for a library tax at the polls in November. Their slogan was, “Protect Your Reading Rights…Vote Yes on the Library Question.” Despite hard and enthusiastic work, the tax was defeated on November 6, by a vote of 153.
The County had not only lost the vote; they had lost the $7,500 Bookmobile unit with its approximately 3,500 books. That was indeed a sad election day for many.

After several months with no Bookmobile service, the readers of the county were literally starved for books. They made known their needs and begged for assistance. Their new slogan was, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” In the spring of 1963 the library supporters were informed that if $3,600 could be raised locally, the county could join Eden Shale Region and a bookmobile would be made available. Money was pledged by local organizations and businesses, The Fiscal Courts of Boyle and Washington counties, and the bookmobile came back to Washington County on May 17, 1963, a day for rejoicing. In September, a sample library was set up in two very small rooms at the old L&N Depot building.

In the spring of 1964, the State Legislature passed the petition tax. Ninety days from June 19, were allowed for workers to enlist signatures totaling 51%of the votes cast in the county at the previous general election (November 1963). The total votes cast in Washington County numbered 1,191, meaning the petition must have 2,137 valid signatures. Again, the enthusiastic citizens rallied and worked, determined not to be defeated for a second time. The signatures were submitted and certified. Immediately the Fiscal Court passed a motion levying a tax of .07 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation. Washington County, as of July 2, 1964, became an established Public Library District. With the levying of the tax, the Library was moved to larger quarters in the Burns building on West Main Street, where it opened its doors on October 13, 1964.

Early in the year of 1965, the Library Board secured an option on a lot of East Main Street between Carey & Son’s Funeral Home and the Telephone Company office. Hopefully and optimistically, they applied for a Federal grant and waited. During the interim, the larger library received greater support and many began to depend upon the increasing facilities of the existing Washington County Library. Library hours were extended and circulation increased.

Finally, on May 19, word was received from Miss Willis that the application had been approved in Washington by the Board of Review. The wheels of the community were immediately sent into motion by the Washington County Library Board under the able leadership of Board Chairman, Willis Walker. After the necessary arrangements were made, Mr. W.C. Livingston, a Frankfort Architect, was authorized to draw the plans and specifications for a building on the lot of West Main Street. Affecter acceptance of plans by the State Department of Libraries representatives, the Washington County Fiscal Court and Washington County Library Board, the bids were advertised and awarded on March 10, 1966, to the George O. Tucker Construction Company of Danville, Kentucky, for a low bid of $84,500. On April 14, the ground was broken for a “one story Colonial type building with a basement room under the rear portion.” The total cost of this building, equipment, and lot was approximately $119,000. Of this amount, $59,672 was provided by the Federal government, 22,389 by the State from bond issues money, and the balance was obtained from local sources.

There was approximately 4,000 square feet of space in the building, with an estimated capacity for 25,000 volumes, most of which were furnished by the State Department of Libraries. At this time the Washington County Public Library was the headquarters of Lincoln Park Regional Library, with a Regional Librarian over the tri-county region: Nelson, Marion, and Washington. Due to the reorganization of the area and the trend toward consolidation, the Regional headquarters were transferred to Elizabethtown, and our county became a member of the Lincoln Trail Region. The space formerly hosing the Regional Headquarters was then used primarily for the filing and storing and back issues of periodicals. It was also used as a voting precinct on election days.
In 2012, Washington County Public Library purchased a parcel of land located between Fairgrounds Lane and Haydon Alley on US 150-West Main Street and a plan was drawn by Chris Cottongim, of 5253 Design Group out of Louisville, KY.  The Library was awarded a Public Library Facilities Construction Grant from the State in 2015 that gives the $90,000 annually toward debt retirement of the $2.6 million facility.  On September 28, 2015 ground was broken at 333 West Main Street in Springfield for the new 10,360 square foot library. The new library can now sufficiently meet the needs and desires of the county with innovative technology, space for community use, areas that are sufficient for a growing staff, room for collection growth and areas of wonder for all ages to wander. An official ribbon cutting ceremony was held on November 15, 2017…50 years of celebrating a library facility in Washington County.

This is the history of the library services in our county from the nucleus planted by the bookmobile to today. The Washington County Library has come a long way since 1955. Each change, small though it may be, has brought more people through our doors, and each additional person who comes in, we consider a patron or a future patron, whether they come in for a book, to see a movie, to have a guided tour of the library, to register their child for the next story hour session, or just to get a cold drink of water on a hot day. We welcome them all and hope that they will come again.

Pages (Categorized):