WINTERS — On March 14, 1963, a group of citizens representing various civic groups in Winters met “to discuss the possibility of organizing a library advisory council.” The goal of opening a public library in Winters was the passion of Myra Glover.
Glover was born with cerebral palsy but she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her goal of establishing a public library in Winters. Glover graduated from the Vocational Rehabilitation Program of the Abilene Public Library. Several friends attempted to dissuade her from attending the program because they felt that with her disability she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the program. Glover was not dissuaded, not in the least. After graduating from the program, Glover returned to Winters and opened a small library in the corner of the office of the Winters Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 24, 1954. The library consisted of 200 books donated by the Abilene Public Library. Sixty-four of those books were checked out during that first month.
Not long after that the small library was moved to an old abandoned city office building. The building was drafty and had a leaky roof and was not good for Glover’s health. Every night Glover took her collection of books from the shelves, placed them on a table, and covered them with an old tarp. Disaster struck one night when a heavy rain fell and ruined many of the books. Glover didn’t let the deluge that damaged her books dampen her spirits. She was a determined woman and once again, the library was moved. This time it was moved to the American Legion Building.
Glover and her little library had not been in the American Legion Building for very long when she was struck down with rheumatic fever. In the 1950s, before the wide use of antibiotics, more than 22,000 Americans died of rheumatic fever. Twenty-five out of every 100,000 Americans were struck by it. Glover was struck with it and it took her six months to recover. Fighting rheumatic fever while suffering from a disease such as cerebral palsy made the fight all that much tougher for her. But, she did overcome it and continued adding books to the library. In 1961, she added 250 books through cash donations and memorials. Eventually she would build the library stock to over 3,800 volumes.
In the summer of 1962, Glover, in cooperation with the Texas State Library Association, sponsored a vacation reading program. Each child who enrolled in the program was assigned twelve specific books to read. Glover welcomed 97 boys and girls into the program. Of that number, sixty-one were awarded certificates for completing the requirements of the program. From June 1, 1962 to Sept. 1, 1962, a total of 3,600 books were checked out and the membership had grown to over 100 families.
Glover’s efforts did not go unnoticed. As she worked hard to build the library, Jerry Ward, of the Winters Lions Club decided to assist Glover in 1963. Ward was named as the club’s representative and on March 14, 1963 he called a meeting of representatives of 11 civic clubs in Winters. These men, along with Glover, formed the foundation for what would become the Winters Public Library. They created an advisory council with two members from each of the eleven clubs along with Glover and a bookkeeper/treasurer.
The council realized that Glover needed a larger place and the old WTU offices that had been built in 1925 were purchased. Glover and her treasure trove of books had found a new home. The advisory committee launched a public campaign and by July of 1962 they had raised $10,000 through donations and WTU gave a sizable cash donation as well to fund the library and other civic organizations. Glover stayed with the library until she moved to Austin 1968. Her dream and vision had been realized and her hard work and dedication still serve the people of Winters.
A news article from the Winters Enterprise newspaper quoted Glover, “I have had many people along the years encourage me to write a book about my life, growing up without the rights so many children with disabilities have today, and how a person with cerebral palsy became self-supporting,” she said. “I am so very thankful and try very hard to help others find the help they need to live a happy life by doing as much for themselves as possible.” In 1978 Glover received a Bachelor of Science degree in special education from the University of Texas. She taught special education at public schools in San Antonio and in 1986 she was named San Antonio’s “Odyssey Woman of the Year.”
Glover lived to be 87 years old. She passed away on Dec. 29, 2017 but has left a legacy from Winters to San Antonio that will live on forever.
The library has moved a couple of times over the years but it’s still strong with a great board and good leadership. The library has a storied history and has a tradition of having strong, intelligent leaders over the years and that tradition has continued with new director, Valerie Congdon.
Congdon and her husband recently moved here and heard about the library.
“I saw an opportunity to get involved with the community and jumped in. The library has great people working for it and a great board,” Congdon said.
Congdon, much like Glover, sees a bright future for the library.
“We have programs that we want to start for children and adults,” Congdon said. “We also have some work we’d like to get done, such as new carpeting and a new air conditioner.”
Currently the air conditioner is not functioning in part of the library. They need donations to help effect the repairs. Sally Spill, who is on the library board, is a wealth of knowledge, a walking, living, breathing history of the library. She has been part of the library since she was a child in the 1950s.
“I love the library,” Spill said. “It’s done so much for so many people. We could never have had the success that we’ve had over the years without the support of the community and the library board.”
Spill currently sits on the board and is the “go-to” person when someone needs any information about the library. She is a wealth of knowledge and eagerly shares that knowledge with whomever needs help.
“We’re here for the community and they’ve supported us well over the years,” Spill said.
Congdon has a message for the community: “What I would like folks to know about our library is that we are still going strong! Much of our population is comprised of older people who have seen the birth of this library and still visit us regularly. Winters is gaining more and more residents who have moved here from other towns and we continue to grow. My goal is to continue to serve all of our patrons, and I would very much like to see more teens and younger kids who may be new to our town taking advantage of what we currently have to offer. We have six public computer terminals; a niche for the tots with toys, easy-read books and a dedicated children’s computer with educational games, in addition to a clean, quiet study/work area, and - of course - BOOKS! I am very excited by the opportunity to offer programming and fun activities for our youth in the not-so-distant future. Please visit our Facebook page to be in the know about special events, closings and important information.”
For more information about the library or to donate, you can email Valerie at; email@example.com or call 325-754-4251.