Skip to main content
   

Harris County Digital Archives

  

About this collection

About this collection

Founded almost a century ago, the Harris County Public Library began as a 1921 social “experiment” with a $6,500 budget and an end-year total of 3,455 books with a total circulation of 19,574 volumes.  Today HCPL is a multimillion-dollar cultural fixture in the daily life of Harris County with 25 branch libraries, 1.7 million library cardholders, and a yearly circulation in excess of 10,000,000 physical and digital items.

 

Browse all items in this collection

 

Browse sub-collections:

 

Locations - Stations and Branches

From July through December in 1921, the first year of the library’s existence, the librarians established twenty-six library “stations” throughout the county in schools, businesses, and private homes.  Stations provided a physical location for communities to check out and return books and were visited by the HCPL staff about every two weeks.  Ross Sterling financed the first permanent library building in Goose Creek in 1925.  Communities began to build their own small white frame buildings to house their libraries. 

Between 1921 and 1939, 122 locations were served by the county library system.

 

Bookmobiles

Prior to the first custom-built bookmobile in 1937, librarians transported books in “book wagons,” basically open cars with the books housed in portable hard, pasteboard boxes.  In 1925 money was found to purchase an Essex Coach, a vehicle with a roof, which greatly improved the comfort of the librarians traveling throughout the county.  By August 1937 bookmobile routes and stops were established and proved a great success.  Library workers brought the volumes on shelves rather than in boxes, making the patrons almost as happy as the staff.

 

Librarians

Librarians Lucy Fuller (1921 – 1926), Ruth Underwood (1926 – 1932), and Elnora Edgar (1932 – 1939) established the foundations for the library system.  Through sheer will and perseverance, they created a stable county-wide library system that survived the tremendous funding cuts of the Great Depression. 

 
Select the collections to add or remove from your search
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
 
OK