Library Built On Hard Work, Perseverance

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Ceremonial shovels sliced into the ground at Rumsey Park Thursday to celebrate the construction of Payson's new library building. As you watch this community dream take shape during the months to come, take a few moments to remember how it all started.

The legacy of the library began 80 years ago when our community numbered 150 people.

According to a history compiled by Library Friend Peggy Gray, 32 women who were concerned about the education of their children and the welfare of the community formed the Payson Womans Club in 1921 determined to create a community library.

The town's first "library" was little more than donated books and magazines stacked in two cupboards in Payson's old schoolhouse. Later, the library was moved to the Presbyterian parsonage, where the Womans Club rented space for $2 a month. Library patrons were charged $1 a year, and the money was used to purchase books.

By the 1930s, the ladies had raised enough money for a down payment on a Main Street building, where the previous tenants had sold homemade bread and ran a successful bootleg business. The club hoped to move forward quickly with the construction of a permanent Womans Club building and library.

Unfortunately, a bank failure wiped out their savings and World War II delayed the effort further.

Thirty years after the women of Payson first dreamed of a library, their dream became a reality Nov. 17, 1951. The Womans Club, with a 12-foot-square room for a library on Main Street, was dedicated and opened to the public one day a week for one hour. Over the next 35 years, these ladies dealt with four library expansions. In 1986 it became more than they could handle, and the operation of the library was turned over to the town.

We owe a great deal to these women and all the advocates who have come after them. Their vision, dedication and unwavering perseverance have provided Payson with the unshakable foundation upon which the community's literary future will be built.

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