OKOLONA – 100 years ago, Okolona attorney, A.T. Stovall, wrote to the Carnegie Corporation requesting funds to build a library for the City of Okolona. The foundation, created by Andrew Carnegie to advance teaching and education, granted the request with a donation of $7,500 to construct a building. The City of Okolona partnered with the purchase of a lot on Main Street and the Okolona Carnegie Library opened its doors to the public in May of 1915.
A recognition of the centennial anniversary of the facility was held April 22 with members of the public, civic groups and local and state government on hand.
The reception was sponsored by the GFWC-MFWC Lanier Club of Okolona and presented by the Dixie Regional Library System.
Okolona Mayor Louise Cole presented a resolution from the city congratulating the library on its 100 years of service to the city and Carolyn Long of the Lanier Club presented a check for $600 from the club to assist with the annual summer reading program.
Library manager, Estelle Ivy, accepted both the resolution and donation on behalf of the facility for the services it provides residents of the town and area.
Ivy also shared some of her favorite memories of her years working at the facility.
“When the library was used for 6 p.m. GED classes and a young man came in early,” Ivy said. “I assumed he went out the side door because he never said anything. So I locked up with him in the library not knowing he was in the men’s bathroom. He was standing there, banging on the door when Mrs. Carter, the GED instructor, arrived for the evening class.”
Another favorite memory is of the “haunted” basement.
“Mrs. Ross, her husband and family would begin slowly decorating the library basement,” Ivy said. “We used three rooms and a closet with all the scary things to scare a child from kindergarten to sixth grade to death.”
Ivy said the haunted basement was all in good fun.
“We had so many laughs watching (them) run upstairs, wide open, with a priceless look on their faces. Of course, the library book monsters live in the basement. If you don not return you library books, the book monster will come out and get you.”
Special guests in attendance were Sen. Russell Jolly and Rep. Preston Sullivan.
The Okolona Carnegie Library is one of only three Carnegie facilities still in their original use in Mississippi, the other two located in Houston and Cleveland.