The Lawrence County Public Library became an official part of the community in 1941—thanks to the dedicated efforts of the local homemakers’ club members. Quoting from the minute books of the library, “On March 15, 1941, a group of public-spirited, civic-minded citizens met at the City Hall for the purpose of furthering their plans toward a better county library. This group was headed by Mrs. O.K. Hunerwadel who was previously made chairman of the group appointed by the president of the East Lawrenceburg Homemakers Club to start a library movement.”
In April of 1941, the County Court passed a resolution establishing a county library. Prior to that time, the library was struggling—but growing. Through the efforts of the library committee, books were donated and collected and a one-room library was opened in the Lawrenceburg City Hall. Mrs. T. B. Bottom was employed as the first librarian.
After the formal organization of the library, a greater effort was made to offer library services to all of the people. However, there were not sufficient funds to meet the needs and citizens became very creative in obtaining money for books. Book drives were made in all areas of the county, rummage sales were held annually. A womanless style show, which featured many of the prominent businessmen of the community, netted $114.89. The library board voted to use part of that money to purchase “a student lamp, a telephone extension, and 12 new books for children.” Newspaper reports show donations of 10 cents, 50 cents, 1 hen, 2 dozen eggs, etc. No donation was considered too small.
In 1946, the services of the Blue Grass Regional Library were obtained. Bookmobile stops were set up to serve several of the outlying communities. The library moved from its one-room location to three rooms. This extra space was located upstairs above the City Hall and the quiet atmosphere was often disturbed by the sirens from fire trucks rushing out to an emergency.
Mrs. Elizabeth Miller was hired as head librarian in 1964. Under her leadership, the library collection was increased, improved and organized. The library took part in a demonstration project and the report indicated that use of the library was limited due to the steep stairs that had to be climbed to reach it. A leaking roof damaged books and caused the walls to crack and peal.
A surprise gift of $100,000 from the Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company in 1968 initiated the construction of a new library facility. The library board of trustees applied for federal grant funds and local money was added to make the project possible. The 7000 square foot facility was dedicated in 1970. In appreciation of their gift, the children’s area was dedicated to the memory of Nora Murray Hannon, wife of C.W. Hannon, chairman of the board of that company and mother of W.M. Hannon who is the president of Murray Ohio Manufacturing.
In the mid 1980’s, a citizen’s group was formed in the city of Loretto for the purpose of obtaining a branch library. Again, creative fundraising methods were used to raise money to match a federal grant. The 2,040 square foot Loretto Branch Library opened in March 1989. It continues to serve the residents of southern Lawrence County.
By 1990, the main library facility in Lawrenceburg was overflowing with materials and the drive for a library expansion began. When the newly-expanded library was officially opened in 1996, it was almost double the size of the original building. The growing collection of books, movies, and audiobooks, as well as the addition of public access computers, has filled that space to capacity.
Residents of the Summertown community continue to lobby for library services in that area and future growth of the library system may be a branch facility for the northern part of Lawrence County.