Meridian Star

Editorials

January 10, 2008

I could write a book ………

Yes, writing a book about the Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library is a piece-of-cake, no doubt!

Beginning with the history, as well as the tenacity of the library organizers, the story of the early library is a lesson about the character of Meridian and her people. As early as 1869 there was an interest. A meeting was called at the Presbyterian Church for all persons interested in establishing a free library and reading room. Reportedly the meeting was well attended. It was just a mere five years beyond General Sherman’s infamous 1864 visit to our city during The Civil War and his quote of quotes, “Meridian no longer exists.”

But Meridian did exist – not only exist, but flourish with new life and new dreams. Among the dreams was the desire for education that placed the importance of a library as a top priority. The citizens wanted the collected wisdom of humanity at their fingertips that offered knowledge to all of the people.

In 1875 Miss Laura Fewell organized the Fortnightly Literary Club. Initially it was called The Cycle Club, but in 1885 renamed The Fortnightly Book and Magazine Club. The books these ladies accumulated formed the nucleus of a library collection for Meridian.

During this period of time, the charter was issued for a public library in Meridian and other financial evidence indicates that Mrs. W. T. Houston bought one share in the library association for $10.00.

It is interesting to note that the Fortnightly Club still exists in Meridian today and maintains its focus on reading books, among other worthy endeavors.

In my mind’s eye, I can imagine little ladies scurrying around in their elaborate upturned brim hats that sat forward upon their puffed and waved hair – the hat always tilted to one side and was secured with foot-long hatpin's that endangered the eye of anyone who stood too near. These determined ladies visited churches and other organizations promoting a library for their city. They organized bazaars, block parties, tea parties, cake sales, musical events, poetry readings, and many other events to raise money.

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