Barclay Public Library
MISSION: The Barclay Public Library District exists to create community connections, support learning opportunities and provide exceptional service.
Barclay Public Library is a tax-supported library serving residents of the Warrensburg-Latham School District and Harristown Township. The library is located at 220 South Main Street in Warrensburg, IL. 62573. The phone number is 217-672-3621; the fax number is 217-672-8404.
Barclay’s Board of Trustees
Strategic Plan 2017-2021
A Brief History…
Barclay Library was founded in Warrensburg in 1942 by Mrs. Pyrle Barclay who began the library in her home, loaning her own books to her friends and neighbors. The library became tax supported in 1945 when the residents of Illini Township passed a referendum to establish a library. The first year’s budget was $1,000. The library had several “homes” for the next 30 years until a referendum was passed in 1978 to construct a permanent facility. In 1988 the township library became a library district and expanded its boundaries to include the Warrensburg-Latham School District. In 1995 voters approved another building bond referendum to expand the 1979 building which was rapidly becoming too small. Library service to Harristown Township began by contract in 1999.
The library celebrated its 65th Anniversary with a Founder’s Day Open House in February 2007. Celebrating “Pyrle’s Legacy”, the library board unveiled the Pyrle’s Legacy Fund, a donor campaign to insure the library’s future in the community. To find out how you can support the Pyrle’s Legacy Fund campaign , call the library at 217-672-3621.
In 2021 the library received the following synopsis of the library’s history from Carol Taylor, Pyrle Barclay’s grandaughter:
In 1943, I was nine and living with my parents in Decatur. World War II was going strong, and my father, Ottis Barclay, enlisted in the Navy. After his training at Great Lakes, he was sent to San Francisco, CA. His job was to remove wounded soldiers from ships that came in to the Bay. He could live off base, so my mother, Dora, joined him. She had never been west and thought it would be a great opportunity to visit that area and see my dad. My parents didn’t want me to have to move around, so I went to live with my grandma, Pyrle Barclay. At that time there weren’t any street signs in Warrensburg. We just told people to go across the tracks and turn left and go to the first house on the right side of the street.
My grandmother was a teacher at the elementary school. I attended the same school she taught at, and I met lots of friends there.
My grandmother, Pyrle Barclay, had a little office in her house with a few book shelves and a small desk with an old Royal typewriter. When people moved into town or out of town and wanted to get rid of old books, they would give the books to Pyrle Barclay. Pyrle started putting card pockets in the books so people could “check them out.” After a few months, Pyrle acquired more books than we had shelves for. We soon adjusted the furniture and had book shelves put up in our dining room and living room to accomodate the extra books.
Several silver teas were held with Pyrle’s friends in attendance, and they soon became “Friends of the Library.” A number of village residents contributed funds to help buy the equipment Pyrle needed for the library. Pyrle also used the fiunds to glass in her porch. Book shelves were put up on the porch to house additional materials there. Some new books were purchased with the donated funds too.
It was soon decided that it was time to start a REAL LIBRARY. With the help of community leaders and Friends of the Library, an abandoned fire house across from Schoeders Grocery Store was the target. As I was only 10 or so, I was not allowed to help in its renovation from a disaster to a productive building. I just remember hearing about all the spiders, rats, mice, snakes and broken floor boards. It took a lot of energy to repair and scrub down that old building.
The library was in the back of the building and held books, magazines, and recordings of several languages. In the area before you opened the door to the library was a space reserved for glass locked counters for displays of local hobbies. Spoon collections, sand from beaches all over the U.S., and doll collections were a few of the items put on display in the library. There was always something different to catch your eye as you walked in the library.
I left Warrensburg after I was married in 1953, and my grandmother, Pyrle Barclay, continued on in her work with the school and library. The library moved to a couple more places, including a house, the old elementary school, and finally its permanent home on S. Main St.
I am so thankful that the library continues to be named Barclay Public Library. The name credits my grandmother and all of her and the community’s hard work, and it notes her true love of education and books.
Carol Ann Barclay Taylor