Library Mission & History

The mission and history of Mississippi County Library District.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Mississippi County Library District is to provide the people of Mississippi County and out of county members access to a balanced collection of books, technology, and other materials, which will serve their educational, cultural, and recreational needs. To provide the patrons of Mississippi County with the most current information for self-improvement, education, learning and enjoyment.

Library History

The Mississippi County Library was established by the Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPWC) in the 1940’s.  They acquired books and used the Armory as a library, the club members volunteered to check the books in & out. 

The first library was built in the late 1940s on Main St. after a county court approved in a 5-1 vote to give tax money for a building and development of the library. The Charleston branch of the Mississippi County Library was named the Danforth Library because they donated the land that library was built on in addition to making a large monetary donation.  The BPWC donated over 3,000 books and the first library board was appointed. The district also received a large donation made by Harry S Roberts of East Prairie to build a branch library in East Prairie.  The library was named after Gertrude and Carl Mitchell.  Not soon after did they acquire a bookmobile that allowed books to be distributed all over the county without the need for people to make a trip into town.  There were also local businesses and even some homes that were used as book depositories, allowing patrons to return books easily. The Mississippi County Library appointed their first county librarian Miss Elizabeth Turner and after Betty Powell was then appointed to the job and remained the director for the next 25 years. She also wrote the History of Mississippi County which is still being sold in the library. 

 The Mississippi County Genealogical Society was formed in 1981 and they actively developed one of the best genealogy departments in the tri-state area housed in the Charleston Library. We have people from all over the country to look at our locally written county history books and over 1000 microfilms. The microfilm is some census records as well as newspapers starting in the late 1850s to present.

 In 1994 the library in Charleston received a $575,000 gift from the trustees of the Clara Newnam estate to purchase a site and construct a 7,500 square foot building. The new building offers a meeting room for clubs and organizations and 9 public access computers.  East Prairie’s Mitchell Memorial Library has 8 public access computers.  Both buildings offer Wi-Fi services. 

The library district has grown considerably through the years.  We currently have a print collection of over 41,000.  We are very proud of our adult fiction, large print, and children’s collection.  We also have over 1,000 audios and DVDs available.  In 2014, the Mississippi County Library joined Missouri Libraries to Go and Overdrive to offer downloadable audios and eBooks. 

In the spring of 2023, the library joined the Missouri Evergreen Consortium will gives Mississippi County patrons access to items in over 60 libraries in Missouri. 

Our library district has grown significantly in the last 25 years.  We are proud to be able to keep up with cutting-edge technology and resources, while still maintaining our small-town convent.


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