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History of the Missouri State Library

Missouri County Library Law

In the spring of 1921, House Bill 383 created “an act to provide for establishing county library districts and to establish and maintain free county libraries, including branch libraries for the inhabitants of such district.”

Section 10 provided that county libraries will be visited periodically by representatives of the Missouri Library Commission, for the study of conditions and to render such assistance as may be needed.

However, without a librarian to go to communities and organize campaigns, no county libraries were made until Platte County established the first one in 1942. This started a rapid development as by 1947, 29 county libraries were established. In 1952, there were 38, and in 1959 there were 61. The State Library Development division continues to support and establish library services wherever Missouri citizens are without.

Library Development

Historically, the Missouri State Library has supported the development of county and public libraries across Missouri. What started as a mission to better educate and serve its communities became an entire division of the Library whose mission is to continue supporting libraries across the state. The Library Development division's current activities include:

  • Planning continued education for library employees,
  • Assisting libraries in evaluating and planning for service improvements,
  • Administering grants to support library and patron services,
  • Developing, planning, and implementing statewide projects for resource sharing, electronic access, and digitization of cultural heritage materials,
  • Collecting statistics and conducting surveys to assess the status of library services,
  • And helping Missourians make effective use of census information.