A Little History of Sevier County Library De Queen Branch

In the year 1905 a group of interested citizens of Sevier County formed the Library Association in the home of J. H. Rice and in 1906, officers were elected. As follows: President Mrs. T.B. Brown, Vice President Mrs. Herman Dierks, Secretary Mrs. H.J. Large, and Treasurer, Miss May Rice.  The following helped with the undertaking of the library. Mrs. Ed Tobin, Mrs. E.E. Sibert Sr, Mrs. H.P.George, Mrs. L.D. McCown, Mrs. Margaret Knight, and Mrs. Zola Huskins.

The De Queen Bee states that May 8, 1906 the Library will be formally opened. The ceremonies will be in the new Sevier County Court House. Funds were needed for the purchase of books and other expenses so the association solicited ideas for fundraising. Book Donations Days were promoted, Ice Cream Socials held and One Act Plays were popular. The Ladies of the Library Association have purchased 125 books, including such titles as “Ben Hur” and “Freckles”.

The De Queen Bee May 11, 1906 states much interest was taken in the open of the Library. There are 21 members of the Association. The library is in the south east room of the second floor of the Court House. The annual membership fee is $1.00. The Library now has 140 books.

By the year 1909, four hundred books had been collected and there were 18 members of the association. Officers were selected for this year was President Miss Helen McMichaeale, Secretary Mrs. H.J. Large and librarian Miss Mildred Smith.

In 1913, headlines in the De Queen Bee were “De Queen Library Association wants a home of its own” and in 1914, this lending library was situated in the rear of the Model Drug Store.( It is believed that the Model Drug Store was located in one of the buildings across the street opposite the court house.) The Library Association members took turns keeping the lending library open on Saturdays.

Early in the year 1915, the library was moved from the Model Drug Store to the northeast room on the ground floor of the first De Queen Court House. County Judge Irwin built shelves in his office in the old court house, and this served as the “library” for several years.  The ladies would take turns issuing the books and the library was open mostly on Saturday, according to Mildred Tobin Downs. Mrs. Downs said that many times she, even though a real young girl, kept the library. Mrs. Downs further said that her mother, Mrs. Tobin, took the donated books home and read them before circulating them to be sure they were “all right”.

Later the library was moved upstairs, approximately where the Selective Service Office was in what was the Sibert Building. The following list of ladies served as librarians at this time, Mrs. Ed Tobin, Mrs E.B. Sibert, Mrs. H.D George, Mrs. L. McCrory, Mrs. Margaret Knight, and Mrs. Zola Huskins.

From the book “Sevier County and its People” in 1918, Mrs. C.A. Archer was president of the Library Association. Volunteer work kept the collection open. The membership of the

Association voted to join the Federation of Women’s Clubs. In 1919, new officers were selected were Mrs. Charles Rucker, President; Mrs. Andy Kinney, Vice President; Mrs. W.A Prater, Treasurer; and Mrs. W.G. Ferrell, Reporter. The library reported one hundred, fifty reading members.

Twenty-five people gave volunteer service. The library had 1,754 volumes and money in savings.

For a time the Library was housed in the American Legion rooms: but, in 1921 it was moved to the court house. 

Friday, November 12, 1926, Library without a home.

The Library Association announces Suspension of Service until the first of the year. Books and Cases of the De Queen Library, which has been in the county superintendent’s office at the court house last Saturday were moved out into the hallway by order of County Judge Holman. Saturday members of the association cause the following sign to be placed on the books: “To Readers of the De Queen Public Library: County Judge Holman has moved the books out of the library room, therefore compelling us to close until the first of the year”.

De Queen Bee: Friday January 21, 1927

Judge Arnold extends Room to the Library.

Through the courtesy of Judge Arnold the Library books have secured a home again in the court house. The Library will occupy the upper room with J.P. Irwin and will be open for readers, Saturday January 29, 1927 @ 2:30 pm. All readers having books may return them without fines on opening day. The Ladies of the Library Board wish to extend this most cordial thanks to Judge Arnold for his sympathetic, understanding and kind efforts in behalf of this civic welfare. The board also appreciates the good will and cooperation of all the other officials in the court house in regard to re-placing the Library. Orders for new books are being placed.

In W.P.A. days there were grants and helps for libraries and salaries for part time Librarians. The Workers Projects Administration, agency formed by the federal government to provide useful work for needy people, provided grants and help to libraries. The W.P.A was established in the midst of the Great Depression and provided much needed work for some 8,500.000 men and women. WPA 1935-43

In 1939 the library was in the Tobin Building in the northwest corner area. This library location was close to the Elk Hotel which opened in 1914, located at the corner of Stilwell and third. Having a library close to the hotel was a great convenience to hotel guests. Books, magazines and news papers were available. Mildred Noffsinger, Mrs. Flora Prince (mother of Harvey Prince Sr) and Mr. W.D Jeter were Librarians. About this time the Sevier County Library was formed with State Aid. Miss Catherine Thompson was State Librarian at this time. The first Sevier County Librarian was Mrs. Francis Ballard. When she resigned, W. D Jeter was librarian for many years. After Mr. Jeter, Mrs. Byron Long SR, and Mrs. C.E. Kitchens, has served the city and county as librarians.

In early 1969 we purchased a church building at 104 S 5th Street with funds from the sale of our old library building Lot 14 Block 17, which was purchased by H.R. Moore on 4-9-1969 for $7500.00, funds given in memorials, a contribution from the Business and Professional Women’s Club, a total of $12,000.00. Then we were given a grant of $18,000.00 by the Federal Government under the Library Act of 1968, Title 2.

The Library is operated on a one mill tax. The city is generous in helping the library and partly pays one librarian’s salary. The new library is bright, attractive and a joy and pleasure to all. Well lighted reading tables are provided for the patrons. Records for record players are provided for music lovers to check out. The new building increased the circulations from 20,140 in 1969 to 24, 478 in 1970 and holds about 5000 volumes.

In 1994 Ground breaking began on the existing building and opened February 12, 1996.
Today the Sevier County Library De Queen branch houses over 26,000 items for check out with the circulation of over 64,000 per year.
The De Queen Branch holds an extensive Genealogy section with over 1,000 books and approximately 500 Microfilm that includes various state censuses and The De Queen Bee dating back to June 1897.

September 13, 2012 Sevier County Library System receives a donation of 7,000 books from former residents Carolyn Leeper and Mary Ellen Leichliter of Dallas Texas. Howard Black and his wife Rita Beth and their two sons Stephen and Michael brought the books to De Queen from Katy Texas. These books belonged to Howard’s brother Scott. 

 The Sevier County Board of Trustees has recently began the process of  forming a new Region with Little River and Howard Counties. We feel that this move will benefit the county libraries tremendously both with more funds and more resources. It has been a very tedious task but we are working diligently to get things back on track. The new region officially formed February 1, 2014 with the name of Tri-County Regional Library System. Our Library Board of Trustees wants the best for our patrons and citizens of the county and surrounding areas.

April 8,2016 Library receives grant for Microfilm Reader from Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District. We want to thank State Representative DeAnn Vaught and State Senator Jimmy Hickey for making this possible. The new reader will be a major improvement over the old one. The reader connects to a computer, allowing viewers to print off material they find in the microfilm.

June 2,2016 Microfilm Reader installation and lessons with Sue Hansford from C.F. Biggs Company of Shreveport LA. 

May 12, 2016, Sevier County Library System gets upgrade to Chrome Boxes made possible by Tri-County Regional Library System. Jon Chambers of Chambers ITS, installed 51 devices in Sevier, Howard and Little River Counties. These boxes replace the computer’s operating system and prohibit users from downloading anything from the internet or saving personal information. These devices are used to protect the libraries as well as its users. With this we won’t have to worry about viruses on the computer. 

The Sevier County Friends of the Library has helped the Library System in many ways. From buying books to having a booth at the Hoo-Rah days in De Queen to help raise money. They have book bags at the library for $5.00 each so stop in and get yours today!