The ground has been broken and construction will soon begin on not one, but two, new public library buildings in Dothan. The Houston-Love Memorial will move into a more modern era with what should prove to be state-of-the-art buildings at its present location and at Westgate Park.
Today's library is a far cry from its origins. Dothan's first civic club, the Village Improvement Club, allocated $75 in January of 1900 to start a subscription library open to its membership. The original home of the library was a small store on West Main Street. After a few months the library moved to quarters over the Nix Building at the corner of Foster and Main Street, later the site of First National Bank. When Houston County was created in 1903, the library moved to the courthouse, then later to City Hall in 1915. Sons of George S. Houston, after whom Houston County was named, donated funds as a memorial to their father and George H. Malone donated the lot at 206 West Troy Street where the phone company has been for many years. It was there George S. Houston Library opened November 17, 1939.
The library continued as a subscription library until 1949 when it was reorganized as a public library with city and county funds. The library outgrew the Troy Street building and in 1965 the library moved to its present site on West Burdeshaw into the renovated former Minnie T. Heard Elementary School. Following the death of library director Wayne Love, the library board changed the name of the library to memorialize both men.
Presently the library provides county-wide services from its locations in Dothan, Ashford, Columbia and the bookmobile. Services have changed as much as the location. Initially the library only had books. Today's library offers far more than books: free Internet access and computer classes, individual assistance in the computer lab, music CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, online homework help, electronic access to thousands of magazines and research materials, services for the blind and physically handicapped, children's programs, reading/discussion groups, a chess club, community gathering space and more. Responding to the needs and desires of the residents of Dothan and Houston County will shape the future of the library and its services.
(Credit: Bettye Forbus, Houston-Love Memorial Library Director)