A History of the Middlesex Public Library
The public library in Middlesex County traces its roots to 1915, when fifteen ladies formed a book club for the purpose of exchanging books and enjoying the pleasures of reading together. The books were signed on the fly leaf when borrowed and returned.
The formal establishment of the Urbanna Library took place in 1927. It was first housed in the Middlesex County Bank building in the town of Urbanna. Before moving to its present Grace Street location, the Urbanna Library also operated in the Virginia Street building presently owed by the Middlesex Women’s Club and later moved to the Old Tobacco Warehouse.
A library funded by the U.S. Works Administration (WPA) formed in Deltaville during the 1930’s but discontinued in the 1940’s. Gazelle Ingram managed this library, which operated out of a grocery store owned by Ed Gemmell. It was located at the corner of Crittenden Road and Route 33. In the 1950’s the Deltaville Library was reorganized by two ladies, who traveled throughout the community with books for circulation in their cars. It again discontinued until its reorganization by volunteers in the 1980’s, who obtained space in the Redman Building.
With the guidance of the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia) the Urbanna Library and the Deltaville Library merged in 1987 as the Middlesex County Public Library, Inc. (MCPL). It was organized as and remains a 501(c)(3) corporation. MCPL is one of seven independent public libraries in Virginia. Just like any other library which is part of a governmental jurisdiction, MCPL receives State Aid based on a formula established by the legislature. We also receive support from Middlesex County and the Town of Urbanna.
Together the two branches house a collection of over 56,000 items, including rare books, an extensive book collection of Middlesex County and Virginia history and genealogy, a Chesapeake Bay collection, children’s and adult books, magazines and newspapers, books on cassette and CD, video cassettes, and DVDS. In Fiscal Year 2014 42,453 items were checked out and we had 29,898 patron visits. Six computers are available for public use at each branch. They are equipped with word processing and children’s game software, reference materials, Internet, and online databases.
In addition to the services expected of a modern public library in the technology age, MCPL sponsors a variety of community activities and is recognized as a principal cultural resource in Middlesex County. These activities include exhibits featuring art, crafts, and photography; music recitals, discussion groups that focus on great decisions, great books, and poetry; concerts; storytellers; and school concerts for our public school students. Children’s Story Hour meets at Urbanna and offsite locations, and MCPL sponsors a Summer Reading Program for children ages 4-12.
In the early 1990’s MCPL conducted a Capital Fund Campaign, raising over $700,000 by public subscription. Funding sources included pledges and donations from individuals and corporations, plus grants from Middlesex County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the United States Government. With this money the Board built a new branch in Urbanna and extensively renovated a former drug store in Deltaville. Both facilities opened in 1993.
In 1994, MCPL hired its first certified librarian, Paula Greenwood, as Executive Director. The present Executive Director, Tom Samuel, began his tenure in July 2016.
A Board of Directors that consists of 12 voting members governs MCPL. The Board meets the fourth Monday of January, March, May, July, September, and November. The Executive Board meets on the fourth Monday of February, April, June, August, and October. All Board and Executive Board meetings are open to the public.