COLUMBIA — Fifty years ago, Columbia had 47,000 residents, three highways, five parking lots and a brand-new regional library.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Daniel Boone Regional Library, which now serves 850,000 visitors a year and circulates 2 million books.
Founded after the success of a regional bookmobile experiment, the system came together when Boone, Howard and Callaway counties and the Columbia Library joined to form a regional library system.
In July 1959, the four library districts signed a contract to make the Daniel Boone Regional Library official and held the first board of trustees meeting.
“The 50th anniversary is really a milestone for the community,” said Kris Farris, public relations coordinator for the library.
The community benefits from a regional system because members can share resources, she said. "Together, the library districts can provide services that would be cost-prohibitive on their own.”
To celebrate, the library is holding a 50th anniversary challenge: Use 10 library services, from checking out a book, to attending a gardening, craft or art program or following the library on Twitter. Fifty services are possible, and those who complete 10 can enter to win a $50 bookstore gift certificate in October.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to not only celebrate the milestone and look back, but to share how our services have evolved and changed with the times,” Farris said.
The library has already held two events to remind the community of life in 1959. In mid-July, William T. Stolz, assistant director of reference for the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, gave a seminar on the history of Columbia from 1949 to 1959.
More than 50 Columbia residents came to listen to Stolz, many reminiscing about that time in their lives. He told stories about Harry S Truman’s visits to Columbia, the building of the MU’s Memorial Union and the end of racial segregation at MU.
“This was a time of big change in our history,” he said during the presentation.
The library also showed the 1959 movie “Some Like it Hot” starring Marilyn Monroe, selling $1 tickets at The Blue Note.
Today, the library system includes the Boone, Callaway and City of Columbia library districts, with buildings in Fulton, Ashland and Columbia. Two bookmobiles serve eight mid-Missouri cities.
Last year, the library had more than 850,000 visitors systemwide, with regional circulation reaching nearly 2 million, Farris said.