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Gaston County Public Library History

Gaston County Public Library Bookmobile

The 1937 Bookmobile was nicknamed "Parnassus" for the book, Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley.

Gaston County Public Library bookmobile at African American Boarding School

Gaston County Public Library bookmobile. Negro book station

Gaston County Public Library bookmobile at Mill Community Club House


          6 January 1930

  • The Board of Trustees of the Gastonia Y.M.C.A. decided to fund a new $25,000 library building for Gastonia on West Second Avenue. John L. Beal, Treasurer of the Y.M.C.A. Board, represented the Y.M.C.A. on the Library Committee. (GGZ 7 Jan 1930)
  • The new library building would be erected by the Y.M.C.A. on the upper part of the George W. Wilson lot, which had originally been purchased by Gastonia for the erection of the Soldier Memorial building. Both the Y.M.C.A. and the Gastonia Women’s Club transferred part of their property for the new library building. (GGZ 7 Jan 1930)


         16 December 1930

  • Work on the new library was suspended by the closing of the First National Bank of Gastonia, which held the financing for the library building construction.



  • Library had book trucks located within three area hospitals: N.C. Orthopedic Hospital, Gastonia City Hospital, and the Gaston County Sanitarium. The Delphian Association of Gastonia supported the N.C. Orthopedic Hospital book truck.


         12 January 1931

  • Work resumed on the new library building after John L. Beal, vice-president of the YMCA Board and Library Committee member, arranged a way to manage the financial difficulties.


          February 1931

  • Y.M.C.A. board of trustees assigned a special committee to create a natural history museum located on the balcony of the new library building. The Gastonia library museum committee, composed of R. M. Schiele, Fred M. Allen, Dr. R, H. Parker, Perry Glenn, and John L. Beal, would loan and donate mineral, insect, and mounted specimen collections which would be exhibited in cases for educational purposes. (GGZ, 20 Feb 1931, p. 7)


          27 March 1931

  • The Gastonia Public Library opened in the new 115 West Second Avenue facility designed by architect Hugh E. White. The building contractor was C. W. Spencer. The new library building, which had a total cost of $25,000, was a gift from the Y.M.C.A.

The names of ten writers were inscribed above the windows on the architecture of the library building. On the left side of the building were the three English writers Tennyson, Stevenson, and Browning. The four Southern writers O. Henry, Poe, Lanier, and Harris were inscribed on the front of the building. The three Northern writers on the right side were Lowell, Longfellow, and Emerson. (NC Library Bulletin, June 1931, p. 48, Vol. 8)


         13 August 1931

  • The Gaston County Commissioners budgeted $75 per month ($900 per year) for Gastonia Public Library services. Gaston County citizens no longer had to pay a user fee for access to the library. This marked the true beginning of the Gaston County Public Library, although the Gastonia Public Library did not officially become the Gaston County Public Library until 1937.



  • The Depression resulted in Gastonia reducing its appropriation to the library by ten percent and Gaston County reducing its appropriation by fifteen percent. (Gaston Co. Public Library 1905-1981)


          January 1932

  • The library began new operating hours. The library was now open from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday. Previously, the library was open until 6:30 pm. (Annual Library Report, June 1932)

          February 1932

  • Lena Glenn started work at the Gaston County Public Library in February 1932.




  • Libraries were opened in Dallas, Cherryville, Mt. Holly, and Belmont.



  • Dallas Readers Club received space in the Dallas Courthouse for book collection.
  • Meeting Room made available for community groups as part of Gastonia Main Library services.


           June-August 1935

  • The Rainbow Reading Club had 42 members. (Annual Library Report, June 1936)


          September 1935

  • The Civitan Club gave the library $10.00 to add books to the citizenship collection for the annual Citizenship contest in local schools. (Annual Library Report, June 1936)


          30 October 1935

  • Gaston Post 23 of American Legion presented $499.73 to library for the purchase of books for youth and to add reference books if needed. (Annual Library Report, June 1936)


          January 1936

  • The Lowell book station was started in the Recreation Center on West First St. The remodeled building, owned by C. M. Robinson, had formerly been used as ice storage by the Gastonia Ice and Coal Company. Mrs. Roberta Smith was the recreation director. When more space was needed, the Recreation center was moved into Redmen’s Hall over R. L. Featherston’s grocery store. The two rooms were used by the library and the games room. (GGZ 8 Nov. 1960, p. 3)


          September 1936

  • The Cherryville Woman’s Club planned to sponsor a library for the community of Cherryville, NC. President of the Cherryville Woman’s Club, Mrs. Forest M. Houser, and member, Mrs. Hillard R. Harrelson, requested an appropriation of one hundred dollars for the library from Gaston County officials at the county courthouse in Dallas, NC. (The Cherryville Eagle, 5 May 1976)


           24 November 1936

  • The Cherryville Woman’s Club held a “book tea” in order to receive books for a Cherryville library. Each guest that attended the “book tea” at the club house on East First Street donated a book for the library. (The Cherryville Eagle, 5 May 1976)


          December 1936

  • The one hundred dollar appropriation for the purchase of books for a Cherryville library was granted by Gaston County to the Cherryville Woman’s Club. The library was located in the Cherryville Woman’s Club House near the Cherryville High School. Miss Maxine Beam served as the first librarian and Mrs. Hillard R. Harrelson oversaw that the books were catalogued. Miss Evelyn Brown later served as librarian. The Woman’s Club paid the salary of the librarian. (The Cherryville Eagle, 5 May 1976)


         1 December 1936

  • Library organized at Highland High School for African-Americans with Miss Nettie Jones as librarian. Library had fiction, reference, and children’s books. (GGZ 1 December 1936, “Negro News: Negro Library is Established at High School”)



  • Gastonia and Gaston County accepted the Library Committee’s proposal for a City-County Library.
  • Gaston County increased its yearly funding of the library from $765 to $7,500.
  • The Library name was changed from Gastonia Public Library to Gaston County Public Library after Gastonia became the headquarters for the county library services and when the county began major financial support of the library. (Separk books, p. 44) (Gaston Co. Public Library 1905-1981)
  • Gaston County appointed four new members to the governing Library Committee: Mrs. T. A. Belk, Mt. Holly; Mr. H. C. Sisk, Belmont; Mr. David P. Dellinger, Cherryville; Mr. Emery B. Denny, Gastonia.
  • Current Library Committee members already were Mrs. J. Y. Miller, Chairman; Mrs. J. H. Kennedy; Mrs. James W. Atkins; Mrs. J. H. Henderlite; Harry Rutter; and John L. Beal.
  • Gaston County purchased the first Bookmobile for $978. The Bookmobile was nicknamed "Parnassus" for the book wagon in the book, Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. It was a maroon colored International van with customized outside display bookshelves. The bookmobile carried 350 books on the outside display shelves, as well as several hundred more within. (Gaston Co. Public Library 1905-1981) (GGZ 22 July 1979)
  • Soon after the Gaston County Public Library Bookmobile visited the Lowell library for the first time in the fall of 1937, the recreation center was closed and the library was moved into the white frame building above the Teacherage.  The library was sponsored by the Lowell Woman’s Club. (GGZ 8 Nov 1960, p. 3)


         June 1937

  • "The bookmobile which the North Carolina Library Commission loaned to Gaston County this past month, and which traveled throughout the county distributing books, was a great success and proved eminently helpful in a wider distribution of books to outlying sections of the county, Miss Lottie Blake, librarian at the Gastonia Library, announced today." "The bookmobile was here a total of twenty-two days in May and June..." and "demonstrated the fact that there is a very urgent need for such a traveling library in Gaston County." (Bookmobile Demonstrated to Gaston People Value Of An Enlarged Library Service, The Gastonia Daily Gazette, June 18, 1937, p.6)

         August 1937

  • Barbara Eaker Heafner was employed as Gaston County Public Librarian. She worked in conjunction with Charlotte “Lottie” Blake, Gastonia Librarian. (Gaston Co. Public Library 1905-1981)


          18 October 1937

  • Gaston County Public Library Bookmobile service began countywide with its first stop at the Bessemer City high school. The bookmobile made its second stop that day at the Sunnyside School on the Bessemer City-Cherryville road. Gaston County Librarian Miss Barbara Eaker and Gastonia Public Librarian Miss Lottie Blake were on this first trip, while Lloyd Eaker, Miss Eaker’s brother, drove the bookmobile. Around 400 books were carried on this first trip. The Bookmobile, under the sponsorship of the Woman’s Club, would visit book stations, set up throughout the county. (Bookmobile in Service Monday, GGZ 15 October 1937, p. 1) (GGZ 18 October 1937, p. 9) (GGZ, 10 Oct 1940, p. 10)


          20 October 1937

  • The Gaston County Public Library bookmobile was on exhibition all day at the Gaston County Fair grounds. (GGZ 18 October 1937, p. 9)


          8 November 1937

  • "The Belmont Public library opened Monday morning at 8:30 o'clock in the Woman's Clubhouse on West Main street. Miss Inez Perkins is the librarian in charge." The library was "open every week day except Thursday, which is reserved for Woman's club activities." "Rev. R. A. Kelly, chairman of the library board, advises that the County Bookmobile will visit Belmont Friday, and will be at the library at 2 pm." (The Gastonia Gazette November 11, 1937)
  • Mrs. Minnie Stowe Puett, as representative of the Belmont Woman’s Club, offered Belmont the club building rent free for use as the Public Library. The offer was accepted and soon after the library was formally organized. First Baptist Church Pastor, Rev. R. A. Kelly, was Chairman of the Library Board. (Belmont Banner? June 15, 1960)


            March 1938

  • Gaston County Public Library became incorporated as non-profit corporation under a North Carolina state charter.


            July 1938

  • A new ten member Gaston County Public Library Board serving two-year terms replaced the nine members of the Library Committee, as called for in the new charter.


            6 October 1939

  • Bookmobile service started for the African American community in Gaston County with the establishment of five book stations. The five stations were located at Lincoln Academy, Stewart Junior High School at Bessemer City, John Chavis High School at Cherryville, Reid High School at Belmont, and the Falls Street Community Center of Gastonia. Each book station, under the charge of its own special library committee, was staffed by a volunteer librarian. Two African –American librarians with library school training were involved in the new bookmobile stations. Gaston County Librarian Miss Barbara Mae Eaker was in charge of the bookmobile, which would visit each station once a month.

(GGZ 3 October 1939, p. 10) (GGZ 9 Oct 1939, p. 4) (GGZ 12 Oct 1939, p. 9) (GGZ 11 July 1940, p. 4)


  • African-American bookmobile service in Gaston County remained a separate book collection until the end of 1940 when it became part of the regular bookmobile service program. (Gaston Co. Public Library 1905-1981)


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