BY HERB ALSUP
Chairman, Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Adams Memorial Library Association
The Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Adams Memorial Library will begin a year-long celebration to recognize its SO years of providing special services in reading, learning, and growing for Cannon County residents.
How did this facility come into existence? A great visionary and servant for Cannon County, Dr. J.F. Adams, was laid to rest in the spring of 1964. Top executives for the Colonial Corporation, Sol Berger and Leonard Friedman approached Austin Jennings about providing a proper memorial to honor a man who was an ardent supporter of the county, and had made the quality of life better for the residents by his living and serving here. After some discussion, agreement was settled on a library for the county.
A few days later, a meeting was held in Hoyt Bryson's law office and organized the Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Adams Memorial Library Association. Those attending were Sol Berger, Leonard Friedman, Ed Lehning, W.I. Womack, W.L. Richardson, Waldon Watson, R.W. Hawkins, R.H. Burke, and Austin Jennings (who was elected chairman, a position he held until 2014). Current Board Members are Austin Jennings, Steve Smith, Barbara Parker, Regina Merriman, Jackie Francis, Gay Burger, Donnie Odom, Gerald Moliter, ex-officio member Marsha Petty (Librarian), and Herb Alsup (chairman).
The Library Association was incorporated as a 503(c) (3) non-profit charitable organization able to give donors full tax advantage for their gifts.
A fund-raising campaign was launched and Cannon Countians provided $85,000. Under the supervision of Henry Hoover, construction began. Mrs. Adams donated the land the old building sits on. Realizing the donations received were not sufficient to construct the facility, Bank of Commerce loaned the Association another $55,000. Later, Sol Berger would donate an additional $50,000, Bank of Commerce discounted the note and the facility was completely paid for. Upon completion, the Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Adams Memorial was dedicated in July, 1966.
Throughout the Library's history, the Adams family has been greatly involved. Mrs. Adams donated several pieces of property to the Association's Trust Fund so that income from the rental properties could provide income to maintain the buildings and grounds. The Adams home was donated to the Association, along with a major interest in industrial property at the corner of College and W. Main. Funds from the sale of these properties, along with other donations received from members of the Adams family, have been a primary source of a trust fund which provides income needed to keep the facility in top notch condition. Wilma Adams served on the Board for many years, and provided a bequest to the library in her will. In 1995, the estate of Mrs. Maedell Banks Rogers provided a bequest to the Association to add to the Trust Fund.
Over the years, the Library has provided a "community room" that has been used for club meetings, summer reading programs, and other library programs at no cost for public events.
In 2009, the Library Association Board realized the facility was not large enough to handle the Library's growth. A study was begun, and soon architects provided a plan to add additional space. Under the leadership of Austin Jennings, $1.6 million was raised for the project. The State of Tennessee provided a $100,000 grant for the purchase of the Morris property which joined the library on the south
side. Construction began under the oversight of the Preston Bro. Construction Co. and was completed and dedicated in 2014.
With the addition and remodeling of the library, several areas received special gifts to honor persons who have served Cannon County in various areas with excellence. Those are:
Frank K. Houston Center for Learning
Austin and Carmine Jennings Community Room
Sol and Marley Berger Tech Lab
Cannon County Historical Society Genealogy Room
Rhea Brandon Reed Young Adult Center
Frances McBroom Stone Youth Reading Area
Hoyt and Francis Bryson Reading Area
Since opening in 2014, library membership has soared to 6,617 members, with circulation plus e-reads of over 32,000 materials. Program attendance thus far in the fiscal year is over 1300 participants, computer usage average 5,000 per month. The Genealogy Room brings in visitors from all over the nation, as well as the county, searching out the family tree, along with burial sites. Peggy Tate oversees this area and has provided many resource books which are sold to provide income, but provide invaluable information to these seekers.
During this 2016-2017 year-long celebration, library users are challenged to visit the library at least 50 times during the year. The library office will keep records of your visit, and July, 2017, your card will be placed in a bowl, and 10 cards will be selected to receive a free Fire Table 7", wi fi, 8gb. Various free programs will be held during the year under the leadership of Librarian Marsha Petty.
Some dates you can place on your calendar:
Saturday, October 1 the Official Celebration for the soth year.
April 2017 for the Annual Friends of the Library Roast. Honorees next year will be Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Adams. (TBA)