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Denton Public Library Records

 Collection
Identifier: MA 2019.010

Scope and Content

The records of the Denton Public Library consist of materials accumulated since the establishment of the library as the Denton County-School Library in 1934 to the present. The materials include correspondence, manuals for policies and procedures, reports, minutes and agendas, statistics, financial records, ephemera, publications about the library, clippings, photographs, artifacts, and construction documents for each branch of the Denton Public Library system.

The collection has three series: Organizational Files, Printed Materials and Subject Files. The first series, Organizational Files (1934-2019), contains two subseries: Administrative Files, which includes correspondence, reports, minutes and agendas, financial records, statistics and manuals of policies and procedures, and the subseries Classes and Programs, comprised of flyers, brochures and other ephemera pertaining to programs and classes conducted or hosted by the Denton Public Library System. Series II, Printed Materials (1885-2017), contains clippings, ephemera not related to programs hosted or conducted by the library and publications. Series III, Subject Files (1947-2016), contains four subseries: Emily Fowler Central Library which contains photographs, construction records and correspondence pertaining to the history of the building and its construction and renovations, Friends of the Emily Fowler Library which contains newsletters and records of that organization, North Branch Library which contains photographs, construction records and correspondence pertaining to the history of the building and its construction, and South Branch Library which contains photographs, construction records and correspondence pertaining to the history of the building and its construction and renovation. Those interested in the history of the Denton Public Library System will find these records particularly valuable.

Dates

  • 1934 - 2019
  • Majority of material found within 1968 - 2005

Creator

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections Department of the Denton Public Library.

Historical Sketch

In 1934, R.L. Proffer promoted a plan to establish a library in Denton, TX by which schools that chose to support and patronize its services would contribute $10 per teacher for the purchase of books and supplies. With the cooperation of the County Board of Education and the trustees of the common schools, the Denton County-School Library opened its doors in January 1935 inside the county courthouse (now the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum) with 1,500 books under the supervision of Mattie Pyrene Wilson. Teachers were able to check out books, up to 10 at a time, and exchange them every two to four weeks. To better facilitate this exchange a bookmobile was established.

The same year it opened, the Junior Shakespeare Club advocated for the establishment of a public library free for all citizens of Denton County to use. To support this effort, club members went house to house and collected approximately 4,000 books to stock the proposed library. In 1937 the public library began operation under a new supervisor, Bess McCullar. It was still housed within the county courthouse, but would eventually move from the third floor to the basement to accommodate its growing size. By the late 1940s it became clear that the library required more space and plans were made to construct a separate building. In 1949 the new Denton City-County Public Library was constructed at 502 Oakland St. The City of Denton donated the land and voted a $50,000 bond for construction. Denton County paid the operating costs and the Denton Lions Club raised money for furniture. In 1964 a $100k bond was approved for the renovation and expansion of that building by prominent local architect O’Neil Ford and the firm of Ford, Powell and Carson. It was reopened on February 2, 1969 as the Emily Fowler Library, named for librarian Emily Fowler who took over for Bess McCullar in 1943. Subsequent library directors included Joella Orr (1969-1993), Eva Poole (1993-2012), Terri Gibbs (2013-2017) and as of 2019, Jennifer Bekker (2017- ).

Library services and space requirements continued to grow and another bond was approved for expansion and renovation in 1978 which was completed in 1981, again by O’Neil Ford. The building exists in its current form after a 2005 renovation as the Emily Fowler Central Library.

As the population of Denton increased, branch libraries were opened to meet the needs of the community. The South Branch Library opened in 1995 on Teasley Lane after some initial difficulty with the original contractor. The building was renovated in 2009 which doubled its size.

In 2000 a Capital Improvement Program was approved which included funding for a second branch library. An old Food Lion grocery store was converted for this purpose and the North Branch Library opened in 2003. The North Branch houses The Forge, which is a state-of-the-art makerspace.

The Denton Public Library System is supported by the Library Board, first established in 1968 and serves in an advisory capacity to the City Council to recommend policies, rules and regulations for the operation of the library system and provide citizen input. The library system is also supported by the Friends of the Denton Public Library which was established in 1980 as a charitable group to raise money to provide materials and equipment to improve and extend library services.

Naming Controversy

In 1981 there was confusion over the lack of “public” in the title of the library. Inter-library loans were rejected because other libraries mistakenly believed that the Emily Fowler Library was a private institution. The city was double billed for services under the previous name, Denton City-County Library and the Emily Fowler Library. People also had trouble finding a listing for the library in the phone book, expecting it to be listed under “Denton.”

On October 6, 1981 the public voted to change the name to the Denton Public Library with the library’s historical collection to be named the Emily Fowler Historical Collection. The building was again renamed in 1983, as the Emily Fowler Public Library.

African-American Libraries

On February 13, 1943, under the direction of Bess McCullar, a branch library for Denton’s African-American community was opened within the Jones’ Undertaking Company Chapel on 1025 E. Hickory St. It was placed under the supervision of Stella Garrett and was allotted a budget of $60 a year for books. It operated until 1948 when it was closed due to “lack of funds.” However, by 1945 a community driven African-American library operated out of the Midnight Owl Café on 702 E. Prairie St. which received donations of books and magazines from the local college dormitories and area churches. On April 16, 1945 another library was opened within the Frederick Douglass School. During the summer months, while the school was closed, select books were moved to a beauty parlor on Wood St. so the community would continue to have access.

There was recognition within Denton that library facilities for African-Americans should be on par with the rest of the community. An idea was put forth to house both libraries in the new building being constructed for the Denton City-County Library, but that idea received push back from individuals within the city government. In 1948 the City Commission and County Commissioner’s court developed a plan to provide “separate but equal” library facilities. The plan called for a room within the proposed new Frederick Douglass High School building. The librarian would be a teacher from the school whose overtime salary for running the library was to be paid jointly by the city and county. Part of a $50,000 bond voted on in 1947 for the new Denton City-County Public Library building was given to the fund for the African-American Library being built within the new Frederick Douglass High School.
Source
Library History. New Employee Handbook. City of Denton, 2019.
Source
Report by Mrs. Proffer at County Teachers Meeting. Denton Public Library Records, Box 1, Folder 1, Denton Municipal Archives, Special Collection, Denton Public Library, 1935.
Source
The Birth of a Library. Denton Public Library Records, Box 1, Folder 1, Denton Municipal Archives, Special Collections, Denton Public Library, 1983.
Source
"Negro Library Plan Accepted." Denton Record Chronicle, May 6, 1948.
Source
"New $45,000 Library to be Opened Soon." Denton Record Chronicle, January 2, 1949.

Extent

14.75 Linear Feet (28 manuscript boxes, 5 non-standard boxes (12x3.5x15), 3 non-standard boxes (5x6x7.5), 1 non-standard box (4x10x12), 1 non-standard box (11x3.5x9), 1 CD box (5.5x12x5), 11 oversize folders (13x18), 5 oversize folders (19x25), 6 oversize folders (53x41) and one memorabilia box (10.5x13x16). )

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The first library in Denton was housed in what is now the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum, from 1935 to 1949 when a new building was erected that is now the current location of the Emily Fowler Central Library. That building was renovated and expanded in 1968, then again in 1980s and yet again in 2005. The Denton Public Library System also consists of two branch libraries: the South Branch, which opened in 1995 and was renovated in 2009 and the North Branch, which opened in 2003.

This collection contains administrative records, correspondence, ephemera, photographs and other media related to classes and programs hosted by the library, as well as construction documents and historical records of each branch of the Denton Public Library System and documents pertaining to the Friends of the Denton Public Library.

Series Description

The Denton Public Library Records are arranged in three series:

Series I. Organizational Files 10.95 linear ft. (eighteen manuscript boxes, ten non-standard boxes), 1934-2019.

Arranged in two subseries: 1. Administrative Files and 2. Classes and Programs.

Subseries 1. Administrative Files 9.955 linear ft. (sixteen manuscript boxes, ten non-standard boxes), 1934-2019.

Arranged alphabetically by title and thereunder chronologically.

Subseries 2. Classes and Programs 1 linear ft. (two manuscript boxes, seven oversize folders), 1971-2019.

Arranged alphabetically by title and thereunder chronologically.

Series II. Printed Materials .30 linear ft. (two folders, four oversize folders), 1885-2017.

Arranged alphabetically by title and thereunder chronologically.

Series III. Subject Files 3 linear ft. (seven manuscript boxes, nine folders, 10 oversize folders), 1947-2016.

Arranged in four subseries: 1. Emily Fowler Central Library, 2. Friends of the Denton Public Library, 3. North Branch Library and 4. South Branch Library.

Subseries 1. Emily Fowler Central Library .60 linear ft. (one manuscript box, sixteen folders, five oversize folders), 1947-2014.

Arranged alphabetically by title and thereunder chronologically.

Subseries 2. Friends of the Denton Public Library .10 linear ft. (four folders), 1980-2010.

Arranged alphabetically by title and thereunder chronologically.

Subseries 3. North Branch Library 1.3 linear ft. (two manuscript boxes, four folders, four oversize folders), 1999-2004.

Arranged alphabetically by title and thereunder chronologically.

Subseries 4. South Branch Library 1 linear ft. (two manuscript boxes, three folders, one oversize folders), 1986-2016.

Arranged alphabetically by title and thereunder chronologically.

Provenance Statement

The Denton Public Library Records were transferred to the Denton Municipal Archives, Special Collections, Denton Public Library, by current and past employees of the Denton Public Library system on an ongoing basis.

Additional Sources

For additional information on the Denton Public Library see catalogued holdings in the Denton, Texas Collection within Special Collections at the Emily Fowler Central Library.

Additional information may also be found at the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum in downtown Denton, TX as well as on the Portal to Texas History found here: https://texashistory.unt.edu/

Copyright

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection may be identified by a unique number that provides information about format, record group, collection, series, box, folder and image numbers. If one exists please use this number when ordering reproductions of images for this collection.

Note to the Researcher

Some duplicate material has been maintained separate from the collection by Special Collections staff. Likewise, back-ups of all digital files present within the collection are maintained in the case that physical media becomes unreadable. Some oversize construction documents relating to the North Branch Library have been witheld from the collection due to mold damage and will be added to the collection once properly cleaned. Some folders hold undated as well as dated materials; undated materials are at the back of those folders.

Two scrapbooks, Junior and Teen Activities from 1985-1987, Series I, Subseries 2, were donated by former Library employee Nelda Nance and originally comprised the Nelda Nance Collection.

The Flag, United States found in Box 40 is presumed to be the one mentioned in letters to and from then Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson found in Box 1, Folder 3, Correspondence, General, but has not yet been verified by the Architect of the Capitol or the LBJ Presidential Library. The flag in question was found in a separate box while processing these records and is the only United States Flag found in the library.

Materials Removed List

Approximately 11 linear ft. of duplicate materials, binders, folders and other storage media have been deaccessioned.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Denton Public Library Records, 1934-2019
Status
Completed
Author
Matthew Davis, 26 July 2019. Arranged and processed by Matthew Davis.
Date
2019-07-26
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First edition by Matthew Davis. 2019-07-15.

Revision Statements

  • 2019-07-26: 1st revision was a migration to ArchivesSpace

Repository Details

Part of the Denton Municipal Archives Repository

Contact:
Emily Fowler Central Library
502 Oakland St.
Denton TX 76201 USA
940-349-8782