The Vinita Public Library serves Vinita and all of Craig County in Northeastern Oklahoma, gateway to Grand Lake.
Vinita Public Library welcomes and supports all people in their enjoyment of reading and pursuit of lifelong learning, providing equal access to information, knowledge and ideas. The Vinita Public Library will be the information hub for the community.
Our mission is to obtain and organize books, periodicals and other materials including computer resources to be used in the pursuit of education, information, and leisure reading.
History of the Vinita Public Library
The first steps were taken over 100 years ago to establish a library in Vinita.
It was in 1901 that a call was issued for donations of books and by 1903 the little room called the library had 500 books on hand. Library “members” paid dues of $2.50 per year, and were allowed to check out eight books a month. One could read everything in the library in five years. Interest waned, and the library folded.
The city library was established in 1923 through efforts of the local American Legion. Vinita’s city council agreed to provide a budget of $1,500 if it could be matched by donations. Legion members provided shelving and library furnishings for a room in the Grand Auditorium upstairs in City Hall.
The library opened October 4, 1923, with over 3,000 books.
At the grand opening the Vinita High School band presented a brief concert atop City Hall’s first floor porch. The location for the library later changed to an upstairs room over the Fire Barn at 131 East Canadian. It remained there during construction of the Grand River Dam, and its office space was used by GRDA. The library then moved back to City Hall, this time on the first floor, an area remodeled from the stage area of the former auditorium.
A short newspaper article from early 1936 speaks of the great success of Vinita’s library, which was led by Mrs. N. K. Warner as librarian for over 18 years:
“The City Library is the pride of Vinita. It contains 6,000 volumes, and new books are added constantly to the shelves. There were 21,820 books checked out during the year 1935. It was opened to the public 12 years ago. The tables are supplied with the latest newspapers and magazines. The library is located over the City Hall. An efficient librarian and a pleasant reading room make the library a congenial retreat for students and lovers of good literature.”
During the 30 years that Mrs. R. E. Moss served as librarian, from 1949 to 1979, the library depended largely on donations to purchase books. The Vinita Lions Club donated funds and time to the building of additional shelves as the book collection grew.
In 1973 – announcement was made of a bequest from the wills of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Haynes in the amount of $100,000 for a Vinita library building. Improvements were made to an existing building formerly occupied by the Coca Cola Bottling Company. The building was dedicated on October 12, 1975 as a memorial to Maurice Haynes, who was killed in World War II.
October 11, 2002 – The library board recommended to city council that I be selected as Director. My first project was reorganization of our children’s books, creating a new “juvenile” section, which really increased the readership among older grade school kids. At the end of 2002, DANA Foundation awarded VPL a $3,400 grant for the young children’s space and computers. In May of 2003, I received the honor of being invited, as one of 15 library workers throughout the state, to attend an intensive one-week Web-Design Class in Norman, and the library website was born. Activity was booming at the library, with a whopping 23% increase from June of 2002 to June 2003! We held an 80th Birthday Celebration for the library on October 8, 2003.
2004 saw the beginning of the Birthday Book Club, made possible through a generous grant from the Eaton Charitable Fund. The White Foundation provided funds for a new printer and additional public computers. February was fantastic, as I attended the national conference of the Public Library Association in Seattle, and received intensive training in Sustaining Public Access Computing in Rural Libraries, one of only 120 librarians nationwide hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Public computer use rose 42% from 2004 to 2005. After several years of steady new patron applications between 40 and 45 a month, early 2007 began an upward trend, until last month we added a record 92 new patrons! Library Visits Per Capita increased an amazing 248% over the 5 year interval from 2002 to 2007.
In 2009, the library is home to nearly 30,000 cataloged materials, and provides high-speed access to the information highway, as well as quality educational software, on 16 public computers including four laptops. The collection has expanded to include large print titles, audio books, and videos. Plans include the addition of the choicest formats the future will reveal for education and popular reading in the 21st century.
Information for this brief history of the Vinita Public Library was taken from articles published in Craig County Genealogy Society’s History, Volume I, and Traveling Back over Old Trails, by O. B. Campbell.