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"History of Patrick Henry Memorial Library".

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HISTORY OF PATRICK HENRY MEMORIAL LIBRARY The members of the Study and Recreation Club of Brookneal Virginia had a terrific brain storm one day. What the people of Brookneal and the Study and Recreation Club needed most of all was a library. This was the spring of 1939 and by June they were open for business --with not a book! Can you imagine a library without a book? There were about 250 books in evidence, a loan from Virginia State Library. D.K.E. Bruce had given the Town of Brookneal a beautiful Community House and the Town Council was petitioned to allow one wing of the building to be used as a library which petition they granted. Launching the little library which the Club decided to call the Patrick Henry Memorial Library the Town of Brookneal being only five miles from Red Hill the last home of Patrick Henry and at which place he was buried. The founding of the Town of Brookneal was partially due to a ferry acrosss Staunton River located at this paricular spot to connect Patrick Henry's farm located in Charlotte and Campbell Counties with his farm Seven Islands, across Staunton River Samuel Pannell's bateux polled down the river to Weldon by his slaves would stop at the ferry and pick up tobacco and other produce for neighboring farmers. Sometimes the farmers were there but the boats wer not so --- a warehouse was built by one John Brooks and so began the birth pangs of the little town of Brookneal, grown in 150 years to the fabulous popula- of 853 persons. What they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. In 1939 you remember, unless you were an infant, a depression was on, a man-sized one, and the government was making every effort to keep its people employed through different agencies so an NYA worker was employed first to keep the little reading room open and, by the way, publishers gave us subscription to magazines for we didn't have a cent to spend for them, nor did individuals have magazines in their own homes as in more flush times. For that reason people began to really patronize the reading room. They would drop in to read the morning paper, pick up a magazine or get a book to read to get away from their troubles. the first red letter day in the history of the Library, which we will capitalize now as it had a real name and was beginning to function, was to have a Book Tea. It was to be a gala occasion. It was the formal opening of the Library and each guest was to bring a book or the price of one. No longer did Brookneal have a Library without a book. It was a queer assortment but they belonged to us and we gazed at them lovingly. To get an organization behind it we organized a Library Association, annual dues $1.00. That was pretty big money then and harder to get than a $10 membership fee to-day. We grew beyond the efforts of a mere NYA worker and a WPA librarian was given us but eventually both of those workers were taken off. Because of the need for and interest in the Library Mrs. Booth has acted as Librarian since these workers were cut off free of