Malvern-Hot Spring County Library

The Malvern-Hot Spring County Library was established in 1928 by the efforts of the Women’s Club of Malvern (Hot Spring County).

The Women’s Club was formed on March 8, 1899, giving “intellectual culture” as the object of their organization. The goal of the Women’s Club was to erect a building for a meeting place and a public library, and each member was required to donate a book upon joining the club. Each year, half of the yearly dues was set aside for a library fund. The group was successful in procuring many books and later housed them a collection in a building on Main Street. They opened the building several days a week, staffed by volunteers from the Women’s Club.

The collection was later moved to the Hot Spring County Courthouse, where it remained until the completion of the library building in 1928. The group purchased a lot at Third and Ash streets, and in August 1927, plans for the building were under way. A building committee was formed, and it secured loans from three local banks in the amount of $7,500. The building was completed in March 1928, and the club celebrated its twenty-ninth anniversary with the grand opening of the new club rooms and library.

During the Great Depression, the club was unable to meet financial obligations and was forced to return ownership to the signers of the notes, who would in turn dispose of the building. However, the club decided to appeal to the public by soliciting donations, and the building was deeded to the Hot Spring County Library Association. In 1939, the citizens of Malvern voted on a one-mill property tax to support the operations of the library, and in 1955, the county passed a one-mill tax to hire additional staff members, which included a secretary, circulation clerk, station wagon clerk, and custodian. By 1966, the library had outgrown the building and held a collection of over 32,000 volumes. The Library Board secured matching funds from the Library Services Act, and with state and local support, the expansion was completed. Spacious reading rooms were incorporated into the design, along with plenty of space for the library’s growing collection.

In April 1998, the library was destroyed by a fire caused by a lightning strike. The genealogical collection was saved, but everything else was destroyed. The City of Malvern passed a short-term tax that allowed for rebuilding of the library, and the new building was dedicated on April 9, 2002.

The Malvern-Hot Spring County Library consists of the main branch, the Jessie Ashford Genealogy Annex, and the Bookmobile. The library is governed by the Malvern-Hot Spring County Library Board of Trustees and is funded by a county-wide millage. The Malvern-Hot Spring County Library serves as the regional headquarters for the Mid-Ark Regional Library System, which serves Cleveland, Dallas, Grant, Hot Spring, and Saline counties.

For additional information:
Bowers, Rodney. “Fire Destroys Library Treasure.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 28, 1998, pp. 1B, 6B.

Malvern-Hot Spring County Library. (accessed August 31, 2022).

Clare Graham
Malvern-Hot Spring County Library


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