Mexico-Audrain County Library District - Main Library

305 West Jackson Street
Mexico, MO 65265

History :

The movement to have a library in Mexico was led by R. M. White and J. F. Llewellyn. In 1902 Mr. White corresponded with the Carnegie Corporation about obtaining a Carnegie Library. The Federation of Women's Clubs, D.A.R. and other groups were actively promoting a library for Mexico also Mr. and Mrs. Llewellyn had one of the finest private libraries in the state, and with 1118 donated books, the library opened in 1909 above the Llewellyn Drug Store with Miss Ester Houston as first librarian. Earlier volunteer-supported libraries there had lapsed after varying intervals.

In 1912 a one mill tax (10 cents on $100 valuation) levy was approved to operate and maintain the library in accordance with the Carnegie gift of $12,500 to build the library on land donated by the Llewellyn's. The new library opened in 1914 at 316 N. Washington Street with Mayor Potts urging people to use the library.

During the 1920's, 30's and 40's the library grew in numbers of books and patrons served with Miss Tine Houston as Librarian. In 1943, a "Victory Book Campaign" was organized and people were asked to donate books; 1265 books were collected and sent to servicemen.

In the 1940's State Library laws creating library districts were passed and in 1953 a countywide election was held to create a taxing library district in the county. The State Library loaned a bookmobile for countywide library service and the Vandalia and Audrain County Library Districts operated under a joint contract and the joint boards met together during this time, merging as the Mexico-Audrain County Library system in 1967.

Under the leadership of Rev. Robert Collins and Col. Charles R. Stribling III, the county voted in 1966 to increase millage from one to two mills with the issue passing in every single precinct. This lead to eventual creation of branch libraries in Laddonia and Farber.

The Vandalia Branch Library was first housed on the second floor of 10 North Main Street, then the high school and later at the back of the Vandalia State Bank with books furnished by the Mexico Library. In 1957 the Vandalia community building was completed and the library occupied the upper floor and became a full-time facility.
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