June 1, 1898–Bartlesville’s First Reading Room was established by the Fortnightly Club (later known as the Tuesday Club) in Mrs. Filkin’s Millinery Store on East 2nd Street.

1908–Renamed Tuesday Club Public Library Room and was open on Fridays from 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM. Also during this year the City Commission considered a library maintenance fund of $2,000.

November 1908–The Bartlesville City Commission and Tuesday Club decided to request a $20,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation for a library building. The Grant Committee consisted of J.J. Curl, W.H. Johnson, and Mrs. R.D. Rood.

January 1909–7th and Osage was selected as the new library site. Mr. & Mrs. Pemberton, owners of the land, donated 2/3 of the 1,800 foot lot. The donation was accepted.

1912–Funding for the new library building was secured and contracts were signed for the construction of the new building. $12,800 came from the Carnegie Grant.

March 13, 1913–Bartlesville’s Carnegie Library was opened. The library contained 1,250 books. Miss Mable Blakeslee was Librarian.

1916 – 1919–Miss Myrtle Weatherhold was Librarian.
Miss Weatherhold’s annual report to the Board on March 29, 1919 stated:

Circulation of catalogued books – 14,229
Number of Registrations – 1,500
Number of Books In Collection (Catalogued) –
1919–Miss Ruth Brown was hired as Librarian. A position she would hold until 1950.

1927–The Library grew to 10,000 volumes. Bonds were voted for a $25,000 addition to the Carnegie Library building in April 1927. Through a technicality, the vote was voided. A new election was held in May 1927. Even though it passed, technicalities again invalidated the vote.

September 1927–The Bartlesville City Commission and the Library Board decided to move the Library to the north wing of the Civic Center. An addition to the east side of the wing was approved by the City Commission in 1931.

1936–The Library now contained 25,000 volumes.

March 1950–Librarian Ruth Brown was accused of purchasing Communist materials for the library and of promoting integration. The City Commission asked the Library Board to fire Miss Brown, when they refused, the City Council dismissed the Board and fired Miss Brown on July 25, 1950. A new Library Board was then appointed.

(Note: As a result of this accusation, the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee began working with Miss Brown. In addition, the Oklahoma Chapter Of that Committee was created as a direct result of Brown’s case. Partially due to its timing (during the height of the McCarthy Era) the case received national attention. Later, a movie based on Brown’s experience was made. Called Storm Center, it starred Bette Davis.)

Spring 1951–According to the new City Charter, the Library became an administrative department of the City, subject to control of a Library Board of 6 residents appointed by the City Commission.

September 1, 1953–Herbert “Gene” Winn hired as Head Librarian and will serve until 1983.

May 1957–Statistics shown on the Annual Report to the Library Board stated:

Library Circulation for the year – 128,197
Library Users – 13,700

1957–Friends Of The Library was established.

May 24, 1960–After failing twice in 1957 & 1959, a bond election passed for the rebuilding and enlarging the Library.


Yes – 1,873
No – 1,275

October 1960–The Endacott Foundation extended a $20,000 grant for a “Self-Development Center” to be placed in the Library. The Center would contain a Fine Arts Room, Reading Lounge, and a Current Information Room.

September 1961–The Frank Phillips Foundation issued $35,000 to refurbish the American Legion room above the Library into a community History Room.

May 1962–The Frank Phillips Foundation gave another $15,000 to furnish the History Room.

March 19, 1964–The Bartlesville City Commission appointed a Historical Commission to establish the History Room. Original Members of the Commission were: Paul Endacott, Chairman, H.E. Winn, Mrs. Howard Cannon, Bern F. Buff, Phillip R. Phillips, Don M. Tyler, John Steiger, Gerald R. Preston, C.E. Cummings, Dr. George R. Kennedy, Elmer J. Sark, C. Vernon Sellers.

November 20, 1964–The History Room opens to the public with Margaret Teague, Museum Curator.

1983–Gene Winn, Head Librarian for 30 years retires. A new Librarian, Cynthia Pulliam was hired.

October 2, 1985–.A City Sales Tax Increase to raise $10.5 million for a new library facility was put to a vote. The issue failed.

Spring/Summer 1987–Library’s first automated catalog and circulation system was installed.

Fall 1987–Library Director Denise Peterson was hired.
Plans were underway for a new library facility.

July 1988–The newly appointed Bartlesville Library Trust Authority took its oath of office. Their charge was to design, build, equip, and maintain a public library. Original Trust Authority Members were: Debbie Benbrook, Glenn Cox, William (Bill) Creel, Don Doty, Denzil Garrison, Dick Kane, Mary O’Toole, George (Bob) Rymal, Bill Wertz.

August 11, 1989–Ceremonies to kick-off the “Build A Brighter Tomorrow” Campaign were held at the Library.

September 12, 1989–Bond Election was held for the new library facility. The bond called for the demolition of the old library and Civic Center, and the construction of a new library on the existing site. Total project cost was $4 Million. Of the total costs, over $1.5 Million was private donations. The Election passed with the following vote:

Yes – 5,161
No – 4,061

November 8, 1989–Library closed for the last time in the Civic Center building. The temporary location was 3001 SE Frank Phillips Boulevard. The Bartlesville Library remained there until December 1991.

June 11, 1990–Demolition began on the old Library and Civic Center after a lengthy court battle.

Summer 1990–The Bartlesville Public Library received the
national John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award for the “Build A Brighter Tomorrow” Campaign.

May 1990–New Dynix Computer Automation Catalog System was installed.

Fall 1990–The Library received a $60,000 donation from
the Delbert and Nina Pidgeon Estate.

September 1990–Library Director Denise Peterson resigns.

January 1991–Jan Sanders hired as Library Director.

February 28, 1991–Groundbreaking Ceremonies took place for the new library facility.

January 19, 1992–The “new” Bartlesville Public Library and History Museum opened its doors to the public. A crowd of more than 2,500 attended. The building was designed by the firm of McCrory/Olsen Coffey Associate Architects. This was Mr. McCrory’s final project as he retired shortly after the Library was finished and sold the business to Scott Ambler, who is now head of Ambler Architects here in Bartlesville. Mr. Ambler was heavily involved in the design of the building.

November 19, 1992–The “Spirit of Performance” Sculpture by Tasso Patsiri was presented to the City and placed on the Library’s front lawn in honor of Phillips Petroleum Company’s 75th Anniversary.

February 1994–The Library received $225,000 from the Evelyn H. Reid Estate as an unsolicited donation.

May 1994–Youth Services Librarian Beth DeGeer receives the “Outstanding New Librarian of the Year” Award from the Oklahoma Library Association.

November 1994–The Bartlesville City Council appointed the Bartlesville History Museum Trust Authority “to plan, finance, develop, maintain and operate a Bartlesville History Museum.” Original Trust Authority Members included: Dan J. Keleher, Jr., Chairman, Jim Bohnsack; Leo H. Johnstone; Robert Kane; Sue Lacey; Ann Marie Preston; Tom H. Sears; Guy E. Sutherland; John E. Perkins along with Mildred Moore, Secretary and William M. Ulrich, Treasurer.

April 1995– Jan Sanders, library director, was elected President of the Oklahoma Library Association for the 1995-1996 year. The library purchased two telephones for the hearing impaired (TTDs). One for public use and one for technical services.

July 1996–Karen Smith-Woods is hired as the Bartlesville History Museum curator.

January 1997–Access to the Internet was made available to library users.

April 1997–Full graphic access to the World Wide Web was made available at six public terminals.

June 1997–In the Annual Report to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Bartlesville Public Library & History Museum listed:

Circulation for Fiscal Year 1997 – 382,790 items
Registered Borrowers – 27, 212
Total Programming Attendance – 6,367
Total Collection Size – 92,353 items
February 10, 1998–Proposition I, a city bond issue, passes allowing the History Museum to move to the Phillips Building Annex. Yes: 3,830 and No: 3,219.

March, 1998–The Bartlesville Public Library is awarded a First Amendment Resource Center Grant in response to the First Amendment series sponsored by the library.

June 1998–The annual report to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries listed:

Circulation for FY 98 – 416,419
Total registered borrowers – 26,176
Total collection size – 95,258 items
Summer, 1998–The new library logo, “Open Your World,” designed by Pioneer Productions, is unveiled.

January, 1999–Renovation of the Phillips Building Annex begins.

February, 1999–The library receives the Ruth Brown Memorial Award from the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the Oklahoma Library Association.

March, 1999–the library breaks both check-out and check-in records:
Check-out – 44,685
Check-in – 30,428
April 21, 1999–Bartlesville Public Library receives the largest grant ever given by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries ($20,000). This grant is used to provide foster children with an emergency KIT filled with books about foster care, personal care items, and a comfort object. The grant money also provides for library collections at The Family Crisis Center Shelter and at the Department of Human Services.

August, 1999– The library is awarded twelve new computers through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Spring, 2000–The Bartlesville History Museum moves into its permanent quarters in the Phillips Annex. The Library is awarded the Highsmith award for outstanding library programming from the American Library Association.

July, 2001–Jan Sanders resigns as Library Director.

October, 2001–Joan Singleton promoted to Library Director.

March, 2003–One Book, One Bartlesville program begins

August, 2015–Joan Singleton resigns as Library Director. Shellie McGill is named Interim Library Director.

November, 2015–College High School Class of 1965 presented the Library with the ceremonial flag collection.  The U.S. Flag, the POW/MIA Flag, and flags from each branch of the military.  The flags can be checked out by any local group or organization.

2015–The Library circulated 467,179 items.  Hosted a total of 488 programs with 12,562 in attendance.

March 2016–A third meeting room was added to accommodate the many groups and organizations meeting in the library each month.

FY 2016–The Library received four grants totaling $37,197. A total of $136,785 was spent on collection materials; an 18.96% increase over the previous year. Registered borrowers totaled 42,898.

March 2017–A new laptop bar was installed for teens. It had four iPads for teens to use loaded with various games and programs.
A new Career Center was created for patrons needing to search for jobs or create resumes. 

July 2017–Video game collection created.

October 2017–The Library participates with other downtown businesses and organizations in the first Downtown Spooktacular.

June 2018–The Library of Things collection is installed.  Items such as sewing machines, telescopes, laminators, and portable DVD players can now be checked out from the library.

June 2018–Summer Reading Program is underway.  A record breaking 1,220 kids and teens registered for this year’s program.

September 2018–Thanks to the Health Literacy Grant, the Library now offers exercise, Tai Chi, and Yoga classes year round.

January 2019–Shellie McGill is named as permanent Library Director.

March 2019–The Library received $10,000 from the Children’s Reading Charitable Trust for the purchase of children’s materials.
Phillips 66 granted $4,000 for the development of STEM programming for kids and teens.

May 2019–The City of Bartlesville hosted the 1st City Block Party.  Theme was “May the Force Be With You”.  The Library, along with other City Departments, participated with games, prizes, food and fun.

June 2019–The Library hosts the first City “Flag Day” Ceremony.

July 2019–The Library reported the average patrons per day at 549.

September 2019–With a grant from ConocoPhillips, the Library created “Creative Corner” with all the supplies and materials for crafters and teachers.

March 2020–Binge Boxes are now available to library patrons for checkout. A collection of four movies in the genre.

March 18, 2020–The Library closes to the public due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The Library opened for Curbside Pickup on May 18, followed by a full reopen with limited services on June 1, 2020.

October 2020–All programs and classes remain either virtual or are held outdoors. Both services and hours remain limited.