Christian County Library

Quick Facts
Founded 1949
Became Christian County Library 1956
Voted Levy $0.20 per $100 assessed valuation
Collected Levy $0.20 per $100 collected

Missouri laws authorizing formation of county library districts, offering state aid to Missouri library districts whose residents had voted local support for free public libraries, and encouraging, via higher state-aid payments, city libraries to be absorbed into county districts and adjacent county districts to form regional libraries are largely responsible for public library service in Christian County.

In the mid-1940’s, Missouri began library demonstrations in areas, especially in rural counties, with no public library. The state library stocked, staffed, and funded operation of bookmobiles for one school year to show residents what a library could mean to them. After a 1947 bookmobile demonstration, Stone County voted to form and fund a library district. The same bookmobile, collection and Extension Librarian, Miss Edna Boethe stayed in the 1948-1949 school year to demonstrate the potential and promise of public library service to adjacent Christian County.

A public initiative petition put the library on the annual school election ballot on April 5, 1949. By more than a two to one margin, citizens voted to establish a Christian County Library District and fund it. The Christian County Court appointed four library board members in addition to the County Superintendent of Schools who was an exofficio member.

The Stone County and Christian County Library Boards signed a contract establishing the Christian-Stone County Regional Library. The first joint meeting was October 4, 1949. The regional library was allowed, by paying staff and operating costs, to continue to use the state-owned bookmobile through the first of July 1950. The first couple of years were occupied largely with hiring staff, buying equipment and furnishings and finding ways to meet expenses.

By 1951, location and services received were causing tension for the young region. Clever, Nixa and Ozark each sought the library location. Headquarters, called workshop in most board minutes, were established in Galena, county seat of the older district. In 1952, a Christian County “Reading Center” and workspace was established in a livery stable built in the 1880’s and later converted to a garage just off the Ozark square. The bookmobile served 84 communities in Stone and Christian Counties. Individual communities received bookmobile just six times a year. Some deposit collections helped to fill gaps.

Each district existed on the legal minimum required to establish a library district of ten cents per hundred dollar valuation property tax . With sixty percent of the population and tax base, Christian County provided sixty percent of the regional library income. All regional funds were needed to operate the headquarters in Galena. The Christian County library board sought to move headquarters here. Stone County held that their position as the “older sibling” meant headquarters must remain in Galena. Missouri State Library and others attempted compromises and reconciliation, but a impasse had been reached.

In February of 1956, the Christian County library board chose not to renew the regional contract. Much as in a divorce, for the remainder of 1956 and part of 1957, assets were separated and “custody” issues settled. Each library district appointed an arbitrator. The arbitrator for Christian County, Mrs. Lucille Anderson, a retired journalist and Christian County native, had worked at the Christian County reading center. She was also employed as the librarian for the new Christian County Library. Christian County Library District was established in 1949. It first operated as the Christian County Library in 1956.

On September 15, 1956, the library first opened in a two thousand square foot building, including offices and work areas. Staff consisted of Mrs. Anderson; assistant, Ruth Davis who had been hired in April to help set up the new facility and prepare the collection; and bookmobile driver Ben Hart. The library operated 8 -12 and 1 -5 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The library closed two weeks each June for staff vacations. A front view of the library shows a canopy, store front windows and a large map of Christian County.

The first bookmobile schedule included visits to Chadwick School, Chadwick Town, Garrison, Sparta School, Sparta Town, Oldfield, Highlandville School, Spokane Town, Spokane School, Windy City, Nixa School, Nixa town, Billings School, St. Joseph’s School, Billings Town, Clever School, Clever Town, Boaz, Sherrow School, Elkhead, Bruner, and Petelo. Many of the Ozark school classes included regular walks to the library.

Within the first year, Christian County Library bought a new bookmobile and joined other libraries in the Cataloging Service of Southwest Library Service in Bolivar, Missouri and the Missouri Library Film Cooperative then operating in Jefferson City, Missouri. Other early cooperative endeavors included the Bibiliographic Center started in 1961 for inter-library loans in this part of the state and its successor Ozark Pioneer Library System for cooperative buying, staff training and inter-library loans.

Special emphasis was placed on bookmobile service to the entire county, beginning and maintaining a collection of materials relating to Christian County and the Ozarks, and training school children in library use. In the first eight months of operation, users checked out twenty-four thousand items.

By 1966, the library owned more materials than could be shelved in the library. Annual usage was at the rate of eight items per citizen. The existing building’s size and condition had become totally inadequate. Even the shelving now covering the windows was insufficient. Some books and library materials were stored on tables, on their sides above shelved books and in boxes. A leaky roof required staff to use umbrellas and buckets in rainy weather. A skunk and a cat each wandered into a decaying exterior wall and died there. Supporters attempted to raise funds for a new building. On the third attempt, on March 9, 1971, voters approved by 665 to 352 margin the twenty cent levy needed to built and operate a new building. Howard Garrison donated two lots of land, with an option to buy adjoining lots along the road to Riverside Inn between Parkview and Highview Streets. Construction began in December 1971 on a seven thousand square foot metal building overlooking Ozark City Park. The old library last operated June 5, 1972. After a two week move, service began in the new location June 19, 1972, with a formal dedication occurring on September 24.

Mrs. Anderson started work at the “reading center” in 1952 after her retirement. After her eightieth birthday in October 1973, she planned another retirement. In January 1974, Marilyn Prosser became the second Christian County Librarian. Saturday story hours, naming of the library as a polling site, a new bookmobile, adoption of C. C. Bookworm as “library mascot” and regular film showings soon followed. Indexing and reprinting of the county history published in 1959, with the library holding the copyright, was the impetus for founding in October 1980 the Friends of the Christian County Library. With a small nucleus of supporters, they began raising funds for library needs not met with existing income, helping publicize services, and connecting citizens to the library. They solicited local artists to draw historic county scenes and sold sets of note cards from the artwork.

Although the original building was an enormous improvement over the previous location and what the library could afford in 1972, the need for a meeting room with kitchen facilities, more space for children’s services, a larger history room, and better arrangement of the collection and reading areas was evident almost from the beginning. After the land and building were paid for, they sought and found an opportunity to meet these needs.

On December 28, 1984, a Fund-raising Committee was formed to raise necessary matching funds for a grant. Anne Appleby, Library Trustee; Marilyn Prosser, Library Director; Roberta DeCocq, County Representative; Tom Jordan, Friends of the Library Representative; Shirley Stewart, Committee Secretary; Danny Kessler, Nixa; Lynette Jenkins, Sparta; Iris Little, Clever; Paul Johns, Nixa; Phyllis Coe, Chadwick; Ermal Skaggs, Highlandville; Spike Boyd, Spokane; Roger Campbell, Ozark; Tony Beason, Ozark; Mary Alice Wade, Spokane; and Steve Yates. Friends of the Library were already selling note cards, tee-shirts and 1880 Christian County census. Coupon books were produced and sold. Plans were made for a card party in January, a chili supper in February, a bake sale for March and a used book sale in April. Bill Armstrong provided 200 prints of an oil painting to be given to donors of $250 or more. A quilt raffle was conducted. Businesses and organizations throughout the county were approached for assistance. By June 21, $68,000 had been raised, qualifying the library for the LSCA grant.

Ground was broken that fall for a 3,000 square foot addition, providing a meeting room, kitchen and restroom area with a separate entrance but accessible from the library for after-hours meetings or library functions; a roomy, bright children’s library; and a new main entrance. The move was completed in January 1986.

In the fall of 1986, Mrs. Prosser accepted directorship of the newly-formed Adair County Library. Except for a three month period in which Nancy Howard served as director, the administrative and financial duties were performed for the following year by the team of Ruth Davis and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, Diane Smith.

Mabel Phillips became Christian County Library Director August 24, 1987. In 1988, the state provided a computer for entering catalog records, on 5.25” disks, for the first statewide library catalog. Through a number of steps the next decade, the library automated the catalog and circulation September 1998, as one of the original members of Consortium of Ozarks Libraries – COOL.

Space is ever an ongoing-concern. Construction of a storage building released room for a cataloging and technical services office and a literacy center which later became a microfilm storage and viewing room. A badly needed enlarged parking lot at the library level and a second lot on the library’s lower property helped. Shelving has been added until there is no obvious additional space. Despite aggressive weeding, the collection is so crowded that one patron quipped that “we still have space on the ceiling”. In 2003, a remodel of the meeting room released storage space in the main library for use as an office for technology, bookkeeping and an executive secretary. It also allowed storage of tables, chairs, children’s programming supplies and Friends of the Library booksale books out of sight. Yet, the space in 2006 serves a population more than triple the size when the last addition was made. Citizens surveys and focus groups tell us a much expanded Ozark facility and an approximately equivalent facility in the Nixa area with appropriate staffing, collection and programming are minimum requirements for satisfactory modern library service. As funding permits neither necessity, the library offers those solutions they can until those long-term solutions are possible. Book returns and pick-up sites at Clever City Hall, Nixa Community Center and Chadwick School Library as well as van delivery services to schools, nursing homes, senior housing and communities throughout the county bring materials to the people. Monday through Thursday 8:30 – 8:00 and Friday and Saturday 8:30 – 5:00 hours offer citizens convenience. Library websites and subscription databases gives anywhere, anytime access to the more than 70% of county residents with internet access.

Christian County Library has participated in the ever-changing technology. Programs have gone from slides, filmstrips and 16mm films through videos to DVD’s. Long-playing records and reel-to-reel tapes have been replaced by books on tape and CD. Card catalogs have given way to circulation, cataloging and public catalog access on a consortium server and all our catalog on OCLC’s World Cat allowing people anywhere anytime to view our catalog on-line. Book orders and inter-library loans have gone from typed and mailed forms to information entered on our computers and stored on computers elsewhere. We have progressed from no internet access though dial-up to dedicated T-1 lines and the recently introduced Wi-Fi wireless access. From a single line telephone where most of the county was a long-distance call and we notified the children’s department or director’s office that the call was for them by hitting a service bell, we have gone to a four system with nine extensions, intercom and answering system and service that permits most residents to call their library toll-free. The library maintains a library website at: and a county records website at

Christian County Library has always emphasized Christian County History. Mrs. Anderson collected all local history possible, such as manuscripts on the Bald Knobbers and the Meadows-Bilyeu Feud, the William Collier Neville sketches which accompanied his Ozark and Vicinity in the Nineteenth Century, Howard Garrison paintings, photographs of the Christian County soldiers who died in World War I, and a large photograph of the ‘Ozark Invincibles’ baseball team which her father coached and in which both her brothers played. She served on the planning committee for the 1959 county centennial and was chair of the group that edited Christian County, Missouri – The First 100 Years for which the library received the copyright.

Marilyn Prosser worked with the county’s bicentennial celebration which resulted in the formation of the Christian County Museum. She especially enjoyed and was proud of the oral history interviews she taped with some of the county’s oldest residents, most particularly the one with Herbert Rogers who talked of his memories of the day three Bald Knobbers were hung on the Ozark square. During her administration, the growing collection of county materials was renamed The Anderson History Room.

Freida Sweet was on the County Museum board from the beginning, answered genealogy questions for over twenty-five years and studied and collected Christian County history.

Mabel Phillips has served on the Christian County Museum board from 1988 to the present. In addition to growing the physical collection of county information, she has worked on computerizing it. The Christian County, Missouri Transcribed Records website began in 1997 when a county researcher and descendant, Marie Steele from New Mexico, put some library databases on-line. On Rootsweb since 1999, the website includes a researcher’s guide. organizational records, censuses, marriage index, index to early personal property records, and a Missouri State Archives index to 19th century Circuit Court records. The major current project which won’t be ready to be added for some time, is a death index of Christian County.

The bug has even bitten one of our newest staff members, Joe DeFazio, who commented, after nearly two months of copying the news stories for library’s 50th anniversary displays: “I can see there’s material here for the upcoming county sesquicentennial. Maybe that’s a new project.”

In August 2018, Christian County voters approved a 20 cent levy for the library to fund renovation of the Ozark branch, establishment of a Nixa branch, and future construction and operation of branches in Sparta and Clever.

Christian County Library

Date Event
1948 Stone County Library District formed after bookmobile demonstration there
1948-1949 Missouri State Library Bookmobile Demonstration in Christian County
5 Apr 1949 Christian County Library District formed with voted ten cent levy
24 May 1949 First meeting of newly appointed Christian County Library Board
12 Sep 1949 Christian-Stone Regional Library discussed by both boards
4 Oct 1949 First meeting of Christian-Stone Regional Library Board
Fall 1949 State Bookmobile Visits 84 communities in C-SRL once every other month
1 Jan 1950 Bookmobile and Demonstration Librarian returns to Missouri State Library; contract expires
1 Jul 1950 State Bookmobile contract expires. Bookmobile returned to state
Late Aug 1951 Christian County Library Board buys Vaughan Tractor building by Ozark Square
20 Jul 1952 Christian-Stone Regional Open House – Christian County Reading Room
12 Apr 1953 New Stone County Library’s open house
23 Sep 1955 Bids for regional bookmobile read
9 Feb 1956 Christian County Library Board votes to not sign new regional library contract
10 Apr 1956 New bookmobile ready for delivery; Decision for bookmobile to stay in Stone County
10 Apr 1956 Last meeting of Christian-Stone Regional Library; Contract expires 30 Apr 1956
18 Apr 1956 Lucile Anderson named Christian County arbitrator for division of regional property
11 May 1956 Minutes note Ruth Davis hired in April to prepare books when collection divided
6 Jun 1956 Christian County Library Schedule of 8-5 Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri & Sat planned
30 Jul 1956 Jane Younger named Stone County arbitrator and Allen Routt hired as neutral arbitrator
14 Aug 1956 Used bookmobile bought from Lawrence County Library for $500
30 Aug 1956 Shelving and furniture for library bought for $4,431.90
30 Aug 1956 Abney property next to library bought for $600
15 Sep 1956 Christian County Library’s First Day of Operation
17 Sep 1956 Christian County Library’s first bookmobile run
3 Jun 1957 Library subscribed to Cataloging Service of Southwest Library Service, Inc
3 Jun 1957 Library joins Missouri Library Film Cooperative
28 Jul 1957 Open House for anniversaries – 50th for MSL, 5th reading room, 1st CCL
5 Aug 1957 Bought $600 worth of filmstrips and got two free film strip projectors
8 Apr 1958 New Gerstenslager Bookmobile nearly ready for delivery
8 Apr 1958 Reported 2,645 people have Christian County Library cards
Most of 1959 Christian County Library staff and trustees work on centennial celebration and history
2 Nov 1959 Centennial Committee transferred copyright of Christian County: Its First 100 Years to library
2 Nov 1959 New station wagon purchased
19 Mar 1960 Record circulation of 358 items checked out from Christian County Library
6 Mar 1961 New Bibliographic Center for inter-library loans in 20 Southwest Mo counties
6 Aug 1961 Natural gas line installed to the library
Year 1961 57,000 circulation on bookmobile; 45,000 circulation from library
4 Apr 1963 Governor’s Conference on Libraries Kentwood Arms Springfield
3 Jun 1963 Christian County Library trades surplus encyclopedia to Springfield Library for used book return
28 Jun – 4 Jul 1964 President Dorothy Netzer attended ALA conference in St. Louis, MO
18 Feb 1965 Ozark Pioneer Library System formed, Springfield & Lebanon libraries first to sign contract
1965 Apr Christian County Library joins Ozark Pioneer Library System; Dorothy Netzer first Vice President
1965 Aug Committee formed to look into a new building for the Christian County Library
1966 Sept Short Wave Radio System bought for members of Ozark Pioneer Library System
5 Dec 1966 Lot for new library discussed; to offer two sisters $20,000
1 Feb 1967 Trustees discuss election & building with attorney, bonding company & architect Richard Stahl
4 Apr 1967 Bond election results 771 for 766 against fail needed two/thirds majority
27 Feb 1968 Large committee launches new campaign to build a Christian County Library
7 Apr 1969 Christian County Library joins MoLAGERS retirement system, still in its first year of operation
9 Mar 1971 Voters approve twenty cent levy for Christian County Library
2 Sep 1971 Howard Garrison donates lots 7 and 8 of Parkview Terrace to library with option to buy adjoining lots 5 and 6 for $12,000 within four years
23 Sep 1971 Christian County Library receives 101,700 bid from Armco Springfield Metal Building Company to build 6,906 Sq. Ft. building
23 Oct 1971 Contract signed with Springfield Metal Building Company
26 Jun 1972 First day in new library building
24 Sep 1972 250 attend Open House for new Christian County Library Building
c Sep 1972 4-H Clubs of Christian County give library rock collection
1 Apr 1973 Christian County Library withdraws from Ozark Pioneer Library System
1 Jul 1973 Christian County Library withdraws from Southwest Missouri Cataloging Service
1 Jan 1974 Marilyn Prosser becomes second librarian and Lucille Anderson retires a month later
1974 Feb Library first begins to remain open during lunch hour
1 Jul 1974 Library named as a voting site
18 Jul 1974 New bookmobile arrives
Fall 1974 Entire Library Policy reviewed and updated
1 May 1975 C.C. Bookworm, by Carolyn Maggard named Christian County Library Emblem
23 Aug 1975 History Room renamed Lucille Anderson History Room
8 Sep 1975 Night hours first added
15 Sep 1976 Open House for 20th Anniversary & Howard Garrison art print collection dedicated
Mid 1976 Library works with interested parties in beginning Christian County Museum
1 Sep 1977 First meeting to discuss forming a Friend of the Library organization
3 Jan 1978 New Gaylord Book Charging system introduced – all patrons get new library card
6 Feb 1978 Library gets first microfilm reader, a used one the county was discarding
Spring 1978 Southwest Missouri Library Network begins for inter-library loan and staff training
9 Sep 1980 Meeting to organize a Friends of the Christian County Library
11 May 1981 John & Lola Bostic Estate gives library about $14,000
c Aug 1982 Local artists draw historic Christian County sites. Notecards FOL fundraiser for library
17 Apr 1983 Lucile Morris Upton Presents library her notes and manuscript of The Bald Knobbers
13 Apr 1983 John & Lola Bostic Estate gives library $6,037.43
13 Sep 1983 Christian County Library joins Missouri Local Area Government Employees Retirement System
11 Oct 1983 Maxine Wilson donates microfilm of Christian County & Douglas County records
13 Jun 1985 Plans for building additional finalized
22 Aug 1985 Reassessment raised assessment from 52 to 94 million & reduced voted .20 tax rate to .11
15 Sep 1985 Ground breaking for adding 3,000 sq. ft. addition to 7,000 sq. ft. library
11 Jan 1986 First day open after a week’s closure to move into library addition
24 Feb 1986 First use of library meeting room – 6 non-library & 7 library uses in first month
6 Apr 1986 Open House for enlarged library
Early Jun 1986 New record for one day’s circulation set at 825 items
23 Sep 1986 Last day at CCL for second librarian, Marilyn Prosser
1 Dec 1986- 2 Mar 1987 Nancy Howard is third CCL librarian
14 Jul 1987 Library joins MOPERM, Missouri Public Entitiy Risk Management
24 Aug 1987 Mabel Phillips begins as Christian County Library Director
9 Oct 1987 Approval received for Adult Literacy Center and Early Learning Center
1 Jan 1988 Health insurance first offered to full time staff members
17 Feb 1988 Library withdraws from full membership in Missouri Library Film Co-op
28 Mar 1988 Contract signed for P. L. MacMurray’s $2,690 bid for 10′ X 20′ storage building
Late Apr 1988 Library uses first Community Alternative Service Program worker
9 Jun 1988 State computer arrives & begin Bibliofile subscription for digitzed catalog records, MCAT
Late Jun 1988 70′ X 115′ parking lot expansion built by John Daniels Company
15 Jul 1988 Library video collection begun
11 Aug 1988 Early Learning Center completed and open for weekly use
8 Sep 1988 Children’s Librarian Glynda Henson named MLA Call to Conference winner
22 Sep 1988 Pegram Collection of historic Ozark photographs presented jointed to library and museum
10 Nov 1988 MacArthur Foundation grant provided most of basis for beginning video collection
9 Jan 1989 1879-1900 Christian County personal property tax records to state archives for microfilming
9 Apr 1989 Open House honoring Dorothy Netzer’s 40 years services as a trustee
1990 Small Business Resource Center placed in library by University of Missouri Extension Service
Bef Sep 1990 Parking lot addition paved by Schofield Asphalt
17 Aug 1991 Library reopens after two weeks closure for re-carpeting
16 Jan 1992 Ken Huff Appreciation Day
26 Sep 1992 13 year old Georgia Kester wins Friends of the Library logo contest
17 Jan 1995 First contract with Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan
19 Apr 1995 Dorothy Netzer named 1995 Gift of Time government winner
In May 1995 Library accepted in second round of Remote Access to Libraries program
19 Jul 1996 Begin audio book rental program from Landmark Audio Books
1997 Marie (McConnell) Steele designs and hosts “Transcribed Records” site
1 Apr 1997 Attempt to increase taxes to replace bookmobile and add branches fails 2,728 to 3,456
In Aug 1997 Retrospection Conversion grant to digitize catalog approved
12 Jan 1998 Internet goes from dial-up to high speed dedicated connection
13 Jan 1998 First meeting of Consortium of Ozarks Libraries COOL
11 Feb 1998 Shelf list and retrospective conversation picked up from TALX
30 Apr 1998 Barcoding, except for over 10,000 TALX errors completed
Mid Jul 1998 Library-City of Ozark contract for city to use and maintain lower lot until library needs it
10 Aug 1998 Microfilm Reader-Printer installed
1 Oct 1998 Automated Library system – Consortium of Ozarks Library COOL & Innovative Interfaces III
Early Nov 1998 Telephone system upgrade installed
24 Nov 1998 Christian County History & Families arrived for distribution
1 Aug 1999 Christian County Library Transcribed Records comes up on Rootsweb
23 Aug 1999 Christian County Library account loaded on Community Connection
29 Nov 1999 Dedication of the Genella Kissock Sondhi picnic area
In Mar 2000 Library participates in first Nixpo
In Mar 2000 Rhonda Riley receives grant to Public Library Association conference in Charlotte, NC
31 Oct 2000 1974 station wagon and 1978 bookmobile sold
18 Sep 2001 Library approved for Gates Foundation Grant for new wiring, computers & software
1 Oct 2001 Book return added at Nixa High School
In Nov 2001 domain registered; Moved website and e-mail to MoreNET
Feb – Mar 2002 Remodel to build storeroom in meeting room to make room for new offices completed
20 Mar 2002 Gates computers arrive
mid Apr 2002 Business office for bookkeeper, technology and executive secretary in old store room
15 May 2002 N2H2 filter installed on internet in compliance with CIPA
15 Aug 2004 Mail surveys returned to Opinion Research Associates
1 Jan 2005 New 8:30 – 8:00 Monday through Thursday; 8:30 -5:00 Friday & Saturday hours
15 Jan 2005 Book returns for Chadwick School Library and Clever City Hall arrive
Jan & Feb 2005 Five Community Forums conducted in Clever, Nixa, Ozark and Chadwick
Oct 2006 Missouri Library Association names Diane Libby Smith 2006 Virginia Young Award winner