History

A Brief History of the Benton Public Library

The Benton Public Library was officially established in May 1916 when the  City of Benton passed ordinance No. 126 which established a Library for the residents of Benton. The Benton City Council named the first Library Board of Trustees in 1917.

In January 1924 a place for the library to operate was secured when the Board voted to lease rooms 27, 28, and 29 of the Ward Building.  The Library was then open for business with a collection of  about 3,000 books.

A permanent location for the library at 502 S. Main Street came five years later in 1929 when Mr. Andrew S. Cleveland donated his family home and property to the Library, after which he retired to Florida.  The home was remodeled and officially dedicated on September 20, 1930.   The Cleveland Home Library served the citizens of Benton through the Depression and World War II, but was destroyed by a fire in 1955.

The library was again temporarily relocated to the Wood Building while planning for a new library began.  By using a combination of insurance money and regular library tax funds a new 5,000 square foot concrete block building with brick veneer was constructed on the Cleveland home site at 502 S. Main Street.  The new library was officially opened to the public on July 23, 1956.

In November 1985 voters passed a referendum that would establish the Benton Public Library District.  This extended the boundaries of the library beyond the city limits to include all residents of the Benton Grade School District.  The Library District was further expanded in 1995 when the community of Logan also voted to approve a referendum to be included in the Library District.

In 2003 the Library Board began planning for the future of the Library that was now serving almost 11,000 residents.  The increased number of people the library was serving coupled with the needs of today’s technology led to the decision to build a new library.  A bequest of  $115,000 to the Library from former Benton resident Harry Stamper Jr. was also a motivating factor in this decision.  Construction of a modern 10,000 square foot library began in 2004 and was completed in November 2005.  The new library houses nearly 45,000 books and other materials, 18 public access computers with high speed Internet access, a meeting room, children’s activity room and even a small coffee shop, but remains where it began, at 502 S. Main Street.