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Victoria Public Library History


1855: The Victoria Public Library had its philosophical beginnings with the organization of the Victoria Literary Society.  This society was composed of girls from Mrs. Viola Case’s academy for girls.

1873: After a lapse of of several years the newly organized Bronte Literary Society was formed.  The society kept a collection of around eleven books.  According to popular belief, they were housed in a dry goods box, kept under Mrs. Case’s bed and brought out each week to use in connection with literary society programs.

1881: Mr. Will Venable loaned 25 books to the society for one year. The number of books increased and Mrs. J. L. Dupree was elected librarian.

1885: A young man placed a book in the collection "not fit for reading". Several agitated meetings later, the book was removed from the shelves and a ten-member committee was formed to read and censor all future donations.

1894: After Mrs. Case’s death, Mrs. Pridham offered the use of her photography studio to the Bronte Club to house their library.

1898:  The library was moved to the home of Mrs. J. M. Brownson.  Later, it moved to the Leibold Drug store on Main and Constitution.

1898: Mr. Peticolas offered rent-free space in his building on Main across from DeLeon Plaza. The library was moved there above Shield’s Drug Store.

1899 (April 11): A book reception was held at the Opera House. Admission was a book donated to the library. Four hundred books were donated.

1900: The library owned 757 books. Membership was $1.00. Library hours were from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. two afternoons a week. Books were checked out for two weeks except recent fiction which were "seven day" books and not renewable. Fines were imposed on overdue material, and members of the Bronte Club acted as librarians.

1903:  There were 1,030 books in the collection. Moneymaking projects included concerts, minstrel shows, and art exhibits. Proceeds went to library costs and purchase of new books.

1921:  The Bronte Club rented two rooms over the Ara grocery store for $10 a month.


1924: The Masonic lodge offered the club use of the lower floor of its building to house the library. The Library moved to 206 W. Forrest. Hours were expanded to 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. and the librarian’s salary raised from $15 to $30 a month. The City donated $15 and the County $300 to library upkeep.


1932: Mrs. Emma McFaddin Nave, who had built a memorial to house her late husband’s paintings, offered the use of the building to the library. The Nave Memorial Building was the home of the library for the next 43 years.

1949: As a librarian, Mrs. L. E. Silverthorn initiated story hour for children. The first reader was Mrs. Henry Timberlake.

1950: The Library owned 15,000 volumes and operated a county extension service to rural schools at McFaddin, Mission Valley and Guadalupe.

1959: Union Carbide Corporation donated clear plastic covers to protect the 20,000-book collection.

1961: Thursday nights were added to library hours.

1971: The City of Victoria assumed ownership of the library and took over its administration from the Bronte Club who had established the library over 70 years before. A bond issue was discussed for a new facility. In the next four years, land was acquired from the O’Connor Foundation.  A bond issue passed, and a Friends of the Library group was formed.

1975:  The official grand opening of the new Victoria Public Library took place at 302 North Main.

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Victoria Public Library 302 N. Main Victoria, TX 77901 361.485.3302 Copyright City of Victoria All Rights Reserved