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The Kanawha County Public Library

In 1934 the Charleston Public Library became the Kanawha County Public Library. That same year Bookmobile service was started and was known as the Book Truck and/or Traveling Branch Library. In 1953 the Kanawha County Board of Education gave the library $10,000 to purchase a new Bookmobile. This service continues today with an ultra modern Bookmobile that was purchased for $82,000 in July 1990 and carries approximately 3,500 items.

A solid foundation was provided for the Library by John V. Ray who, with diligence and vision, prepared and successfully guided the Kanawha County Public Library Act through its passage by the West Virginia Legislature (Chapter 178 of the Acts of 1957). Its mandate declared that appropriated support shall come from the Kanawha County Board of Education, the Kanawha County Commission and the City of Charleston. The constitutionality of the act was unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia which declared, in part, that; "huge sums of money have been expended in the state pursuant to statutes, city ordinances, or orders of county courts for the physical development or pleasure of its citizens. Football stadiums...recreation centers...swimming pools, public parks and other public recreational and entertainment areas exist in all sections of the state. Public Libraries are scarce. However, we find that they are as much a public function as are the other enterprises heretofore mentioned. The importance of physical development cannot be minimized, and the importance of mental development must not be minimized."

The Library kept growing and by the fifties, the Library Board began considering alternatives of renovating the Lee Street building or finding a new location. The Federal Building at 123 Capitol Street, originally built to house the Post Offices, Federal courtrooms and other Federal government offices and agencies, was vacated and declared surplus property. In 1964, following negotiations with the Federal Government, the General Services Administration agreed to sell the property to the Library Board for $500,000 payable over 20 years at 4.5% interest.

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