The Friends of the Chatham Community Library will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a gala open house at the library on Saturday, May 19th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Activities will include children’s entertainment (face painting, balloon animals), live music, historical displays, free books for adults and children, a plaque dedication and more! Refreshments will be served.
The Friends got its start officially on October 3, 1968, when an organization committee meeting was held to revitalize an informal group of Friends which had been started as early as January 28, 1928. At that time, 12 Pittsboro citizens formed the McNeill Book Club. One of its members, Margaret (‘Maggie’) Horne, became Pittsboro’s first librarian 14 years later.
When the group met in 1968, the members felt that Pittsboro deserved better than the series of makeshift libraries which had served the citizens up until then, such as (1) small collections in homes, academies and schools in the 19th Century, (2) a bookmobile in the 1930s funded under the Works Progress Administration, (3) small collections in the basement of the Siler City Town Hall in the 1940s and (4) a bookcase in Maggie Horne’s living room from 1942.
Later, the library was housed in the Pittsboro Jaycees Community House and the basement of the County Agricultural Building. During all this time, there had been an informal group of supporters who met occasionally to discuss ways of improving the library’s structure and services.
During the meeting on October 3, 1968, the participants agreed that Pittsboro finally needed a library that was larger than “any extra, one room in any existing building anywhere in Pittsboro”. Marvin Reeves, perhaps influenced by his wife Myrtle, a McNeill Book Club member since 1947, saw this need, and he did something important to meet it.
In his 1969 will, Reeves left $20,000 for a new library building, and this bequest was the spark that inspired the overwhelming interest in and effort leading to the building of the Pittsboro Memorial Library. This facility on West Street served the community well until the new Chatham Community Library was built on the campus of Central Carolina Community College, which opened to the public in September 2010.