Georgiana’s Rose Memorial Library serves city for 80-plus years

Published 5:35 pm Friday, February 6, 2009

It’s Butler County’s longest continuing library, though its location has changed several times over the decades.

More than 80 years ago, Georgiana business and philanthropist Thaddeus Rose gave the city its first public library.

“Mr. Rose donated the downtown building and the first books for it to the town on November 3, 1927,” said Betsy Waggoner, who volunteers as the librarian.

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(Rose also provided the house on Rose Street a young fellow named Hiram “Hank” Williams and his family lived in for several years after their previous home burned. That house is now the Hank Williams Sr. Boyhood Home and Museum).

The Thaddeus Luther Rose Library was originally located in downtown Georgiana where the former Johnson Hardware (now Lowery Sales and Service) is now situated.

When the original building was torn down in the 1934, the library was moved to the city’s old community house.

In 1938, the books were on the move once again, with the library located adjacent to city hall.

“When that building became the council meeting chambers in the 1980s, the library needed a new home. The city purchased the old house located behind city hall, and everything was moved there,” Waggoner said.

Ever since, the Rose Memorial Library, as it’s been known since the passing of its founder, has made its home in the cozy white house with the columned front porch on Mill Street.

Though the library is owned by the city, it is maintained by the ladies of the Three Arts Club of Georgiana and Chapman.

The library offers many books, including an extensive collection of contemporary adult fiction and classic novels, Waggoner says.

While it is currently open just one day a week, on Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Waggoner makes the love of reading available outside the normal library hours.

“For people who work and just can’t make it here during those hours, I do deliver and also pick up books,” she says. (Books can also be dropped off at the nearby city hall.)

She is also considering changing library hours during the winter months, due to amount of time it takes to warm up the old building.

“We may look at moving the winter hours from noon to 4 p.m. That would also allow more of our school children to make use of the library,” Waggoner said.

During the summer months when the school libraries are closed, Rose Memorial Library is a popular place for youngsters to come, the librarian said.

For those wanting to do some research into the history of south Butler County, a good selection of bound volumes of the Butler County News is also available on the premises.

“Some of the older editions are quite fragile, and we are hoping to one day get them put on microfilm if grant monies can be found. It is something I am looking into,” Waggoner said.

Anyone wanting to donate used or new books to the library or who wishes to make a memorial gift are very welcome, Waggoner said.

“Our budget is very small, so we always welcome the support of the community. We are very proud of the library and believe it is a special part of our town.