The Forsyth Library is celebrating its 50th Anniversary next week, and the public is invited to join in on the celebration.
In 1967, founding member Mary Wolf moved to Forsyth. Originally from England, Wolf said she had never lived somewhere that didn’t have some kind of library. So in 1969, she set out to change that.
“In ‘69, we had a chiropractor here by the name of John Clark, and he was the chamber president,” Wolf said. “So I went to him and I said, ‘We need a library,’ and he said ‘Well, have at it.’ So I called five ladies.”
Those five ladies – Marie Boswell, Mabelle Horn, Elsie Jewel, Ethelwynne Pruess and Hazel Whitley – joined Wolf on her mission to create a library for the residents of Forsyth. The library has been housed in a variety of buildings since its debut on July 15, 1969, many of which don’t even exist anymore. However, the library’s first home was on Front Street where the Forsyth Chamber office was.
“I was sort of working part time at the chamber at the time. We had one wall and people started giving us books. The first books we ever had were by Emilie Loring,” said Wolf. “Marie gave us $25, and that was our start. With that money, we bought a date stamp and a pad and the cards. You know how they used to be glued in the back of the books, the pockets and the cards?”
Even though the library was built with Wolf and the other five founding woman, Wolf said they had tremendous help along the way.
“People retired here. They gave time. They gave money. Some gave both. In ‘72 or so, we had a lady retire here who actually worked for the state, and she was way up in there in Jefferson City. She got us incorporated and all the things we were supposed to do. From there, it mushroomed,” said Wolf. “So the thing is, we can’t thank people individually because there were hundreds.”
As time went on and the library worked to expand, Wolf said, they were able to stay afloat financially by hosting raffles for televisions or microwave ovens, having flea market sales, and in more recent years the Library Thrift Store, which is across the street from the Taney County Courthouse in Forsyth.
“Right now, I think it would be much more difficult to start something like this. I have to tell you that, even though the bank was wonderful, we had a line of credit there if we needed it. We raised the money, and we paid cash. We never did have to borrow any money. It was absolutely so exciting,” Wolf said. “We had plumbers that retired here and electricians, and they did things for us. Now, we kind of have to pay for everything. It’s just a totally different world.”
Wolf said, while the summer of 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the library, this summer has also been hard on her due to the personal connection she shares with the library.
“This is where I meet my second husband. We were married for 49 years. This year would have been our 50th,” Wolf said. “I really met him when all of this was starting, because he had a grocery store. He gave us shelving, which were the first shelves that we had. So it’s been kind of difficult for me because our wedding anniversary was the 15th of June and it would have been our 50th.”
As the world evolved, Wolf explained the library had to evolve with it.
“Of course when we became computerized, we were a bunch of old ladies and retired people, and computers scared us to death. I remember we started because we finally had to have a paid employee, because we had to have a paid employee here all the time,” Wolf said. “Those things just scared me, but I love it now. I even have one at home. I do stuff online. I wouldn’t say I’m a regular techie. It was a growing experience. It really has been a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work.”
In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, the Forsyth Library is inviting the public to join them for its week-long events running from July 15 to the 19. On Monday at 10 a.m. Wolf will be giving a brief history of the library, which will be followed by a resolution presentation from Missouri District 155 Rep. Karla Eslinger at 10:30 a.m. That afternoon at 1, Shepherd of the Hills Humane Society will be doing a presentation on caring for pets in the summer weather and pet adoption.
On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Buttercup the Clown will be stopping by to visit and make balloon animals, and at 10 a.m. on Wednesday there will be a children’s story time and crafts. On Thursday, Forsyth firefighters will be coming in with Sparky the Dog to visit at 10 a.m., and on Friday at 10:30 a.m. the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center will be doing a presentation on snakes.
Out of the six original founding members of the library, Wolf is the only one left, at age 85. Wolf said when they started the library in 1969, she was incredibly optimistic that it would be around for a long time.
“I like a book. I just like to hold a book ,and I just like to read,” said Wolf. “It’s wonderful. I hope to do another 50 years and keep going.”
The Forsyth Library offers Library Cards for $5 a year for adults and $1 a year for anyone 18 and under. For more information, call 417-546-5257.