The Hardin County Library had its beginning in the mid 1930s. A small lending library was begun by the WPA. Mrs. Fannie Freeman (later Paulk) was the first librarian at this location under the "New Deal" program. She was a widow with four early teen-aged children.
The Hardin Co. Library opened in 1937 in its first location above the Rexall Drug Store. The store's owner provided a small, one room space rent-free until more suitable quarters could be found.
In the 1934-37 time of construction of the Pickwick Landing Dam on the Tennessee River near the Pickwick Community in Hardin County, the TVA created an excellent library as well as school for their employees and their children. When the TVA librarian learned that upon completion of building the dam, the library would be liquidated, he thought that Savannah and Hardin County should try to secure these books to start a public library.
This endeavor was accomplished with the help of Mr. R.B. Lappin, then principal of Central High School in Savannah and Mr. Con Welch, a prominent businessman of the area. Mrs. Emma Bolyard and Mrs. Archie Wilson, both widows and NYA employees, tended this library for several years.
Sometime around 1940, the Hardin Co. court voted to allow the library's use of a part of the county court room on the first floor of the courthouse to be shared with the FHA. Friends made shelves, gave paint and did the necessary work to turn this space into a library. The library itself had no money nor was any county money allocated to it. Mrs. Emma Bolyard continued on as librarian in this location.
On October 20, 1944 the first library board was formed with official officers. In August 1949, Hardin Co. became a part of the regional library program sponsored by TVA. In December 1949, the courthouse burned. All library materials were lost except those held by borrowers. A columnist for the Commercial Appeal, Paul Flowers, made an appeal for books. Clubs gave showers for the library. Several programs were presented to raise money for books.
In 1952, the library was opened in a large room in the southeast corner of the new courthouse. This was to be the location for the County Library until July, 1975.
An old plumbing supply store became available to purchase in January of 1974. The county court bought the property and renovations began soon after.
By moving into the new building, the library tripled in size. Several librarians came and went during the next few years. In 1984, the library received a grant from the state and was expanded to 6500 square feet. This doubled the existing space. With needs of our community growing, programs being added to the library's days, it was soon discovered that this building was soon becoming to small. In 1996, the Summer Reading Program had 275 children involved.
In 1997 the library stepped into the era of the computers with internet connection being installed. In February of 2000, the library received five computers for public use from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the early summer of 2000, Mr. Con Welch gave land for a new library on Pickwick Road in Savannah. Immediately plans began to come together, fund raising projects began, and in July 2000 bids were opened to award the contract for a new library. A low bid of $1.5 million was accepted and construction began in August of2000 on the 17,000 square feet building.
At the end of October, 2001, the move finally begun. Open House was held on November 25, 2001 with approximately 500 in attendance. With a staff of six full time and two part time, we all enjoy working at this beautiful new facility.
Jeanette K. Smith, Director
Connie Lewis, Assistant Director/Reference & Genealogy Librarian
Debbie Brannon, Circulation Librarian/Technical Services
Shelia Alexander, Senior Circulation Clerk
Betty Stricklin, Children's Librarian
Robin King, Circulation Clerk
Frances Slater, Part-time Circulation Clerk
Sandra Thompson, Part-time Circulation Clerk
Robert and Sandra Thompson, Janitors
Lisa S. Thomas, Chair
Sandra Sandberg, Vice-chair
Roger James, Secretary