Warioto Regional Library
The Warioto Regional Library officially began September 15, 1947 when the Austin Peay State College Region (now the Warioto Regional Library) was organized with the transfer of Stewart, Houston, Humphreys and Perry counties from the University of Tennessee Junior College Region. The U.T. Junior College Region, which was located in Martin, had grown too large to give adequate services; therefore a new region was organized to take care of the extra load. These four counties had not had a regional librarian nor book service for a period of six months. Needless to say, the organization of a new region was welcomed with enthusiasm. However, it was November, 1947 before the regional librarian was able to secure a vehicle and begin satisfactory services to the rural people in the region.
Over the next four years, the counties of Benton, Dickson, Hickman, Lewis, Montgomery, Robertson, and Sumner were added to the region. In fiscal year 1950-51, the Johnsonville Steam Plant project was begun in the area, resulting in additional personnel being added to the Austin Peay Region to assist in the extra work. The TVA contract benefited the region in several ways: one additional trained employee was hired to classify and catalog all the books processed by the library; the addition of an extra county increased the overall appropriation for the area; an additional bookmobile was transferred from Martin; and additional books were purchased with TVA funds. Furniture and equipment was also purchased with TVA funds for the county libraries in Humphreys and Benton counties. A library was established in the temporary recreation building on the job site at New Johnsonville.
In 1954, the counties of Hickman, Lewis and Perry were transferred to the new Blue Grass Regional Library in Columbia. This eliminated thirty service points from the Austin Peay Region.
In 1966 Benton County was transferred to the Reelfoot Region. At the time, seven counties remained in the Warioto Region.
In 1968, Cheatham County became the last county to join the Warioto Region. Since 1968 the region has been composed of Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, Robertson, Stewart and Sumner counties.
The name of the region was changed to Warioto Regional Library center in fiscal year 1955-56. The region was composed of 8 counties at that time. Mr. O. S. Luton, of Houston County, chaired the first Warioto Regional Library Board. Today, the region is still composed of 8 counties and the Warioto Regional Library Board is chaired by Anne Young, also of HoustonCounty.From its establishment in 1947, the region has been guided by the following directors:
During the first year of service, 6 counties in the region were serviced by the staff of the AustinPeayRegionalCenter, which consisted of 1 regional librarian, 2 part-time students from Austin Peay State College, 6 custodians (Waverly, Erin, Dover, Springfield, and Linden) and 49 volunteer custodians at various bookmobile deposits throughout the region. The region's first State Funds Appropriation of $8,000,000 was received during fiscal year 1947-1948 and used to provide materials and services to a population of 101,702. The local appropriations for the six counties in the region totaled $4,940.00 during the first fiscal year. A total materials circulation of 25,127 was recorded for the six-county region during fiscal year 1947-48.
Today, in order to serve the population of eight counties, the regional library center is authorized to employ eight staff members, consisting of a Regional Director, 1 Assistant Director, 1 Administrative Services Assistant, 4 Library Assistants and 1 Library Clerk. The current regional staff provides materials, programs and services for 13 local public libraries, numerous deposit stations, and 1 community library. Local libraries and deposits receive van courier service from the regional library center on a routine basis. Deposit stations are serviced 4 times a year by van. Regional Library staff members provide automation/technical assistance and consultation to the local libraries in the region.
Looking back, the first 50 years of regional library service in the Warioto Region brought public library service to the citizens of the area from 6 small collections in inadequate buildings and with limited service hours, to 13 libraries with considerably larger collections, spacious facilities, and service hours in excess of 560 hours per week. Without any doubt, improved State Funding, Federal Funding and Local Funding levels over the past years have provided the citizens of the region with an excellent quality of library service.
During the second 50 years of public library service in the Warioto Region, dramatic changes are taking place in all of our local libraries and in the regional library center. The regional library center and the 13 public libraries have all successfully connected to the Internet and have material circulation systems, and as we all know, this means even bigger and better things are yet to come!!!