In 1961, a tax levy was voted by Tulsa County voters to build and re-furbish county libraries. Because Owasso was a fast growing city, the first new branch was built there and opened in 1963. The library was housed in a leased space of 1300 square feet at 124 West 1st Street. The Owasso library committee headed by Yolanda Charney hosted a seven hour dedication program. Mary Manning was the first librarian and said that the people of Owasso had a hunger for books as they checked out 1,257 books in the first five days the library was opened. The library was only open four days a week approximately twenty hours.
A 2400 square feet facility at 118 S. Main Street was leased from D. M. Sokolosky in 1972. This storefront facility served many school children and preschoolers coming to story time, but it eventually became too small. After the passage of the 1988 bond issue, the first project was to build a new stand-alone building for the Owasso Library which was completed in 1990. Five lots were acquired from five different owners to permit the construction at 103 W. Broadway, just a couple of blocks north of the leased location. City officials were insistent that the Library should be located in the downtown area. Designed by Olsen-Coffey, the new building featured a large meeting room, and a comfortable 5,800 square feet interior holding 18,000 items. The Harold Charney family donated a small bronze called "End of the Trail" for the lobby.
In an effort to try to keep up with community needs, the branch was expanded to 8,800 square feet in 2001, under the guidance of Olsen-Coffey. The main feature of the added space was a castle-like tower for the preschool area, with a rain forest theme mural. Debbie Bettinger was the artist who designed the murals and other paintings around the building. In anticipation of future expansion needs, adjourning land has been purchased to the north of the building.
Service to children is very important at the Owasso branch because there are so many young families with growing children. We offer a summer reading program to both children and teens, we have two lapsit story times for newborns through two-year-olds and their caregivers and two preschool story times for three through five-year-olds. We offer other special programs throughout the year for children, including International Talk like a Pirate Day, a Harry Potter program, and a Star Wars Anniversary Party. We host the Harold Charney Poetry Festival for 4th and 5th graders in April through the generosity of the Charney family.
We offer our adult customers a variety of computer classes and a monthly book discussion. We have expanded our space to include 9 Internet computers, several study tables, and a collection of 45,000+ books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, videos, and magazines. We have a staff of 13 people to serve our customers. Our meeting room holds 75 people and is constantly booked.
Librarians who have guided the Owasso Library are Mary Manning, Velma Ward from 1964-1983 who was beloved and innovative, evidenced by her popcorn machine which she put to good use before her story times and summer programs; Rose Lambert from 1983 to 1985; Fran Ambrus from 1985 to 1997 and Barbara Barnes from 1997 to the present.
The Owasso Library is a focal point of the Owasso Community and strives to give excellent customer service to all who enter the doors.
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