DBRL Celebrates 50 Years of Library Service

Demonstration Bookmobile

Bookmobile at McBaine, 1957.

The Daniel Boone Regional Library was founded in 1959, after a grant-funded regional bookmobile experiment proved to be very popular.

So enthusiastic were the citizens of Boone, Callaway and Howard Counties that they established county library districts and passed tax levies. In July of 1959, the three county districts and the City of Columbia Library District finalized a contract to form the regional system and the first Board of Trustees meeting was held. Mrs. Ruby Hulen of Sturgeon suggested the name that was ultimately chosen, “Daniel Boone.” The Fulton Library District came into the system in 1960 through a one-year contract with the Callaway County Library District. The two districts merged January 1, 1962.

The following are just some of the milestones DBRL has marked over the 50 years of service.

Callaway 1968 construction

Callaway, 1961

Callaway 1968 construction

Callaway, 1968


During the first five years of the decade, the DBRL Board of Trustees appointed a building committee and reviewed staffing needs for the growing region. By 1970, eight new professional librarians were added, three bookmobiles served patrons, and services to hospitals, jails and homebound people began. In Columbia, a site (100 W. Broadway) was secured and construction for the new Columbia Public Library (CPL) began with the help of a $600,000 federal grant. In Callaway County, library hours were increased, a new juvenile department was constructed and the adult area was remodeled.

1970 book brigade

Columbia library book brigade

Callaway 1968 construction

Pied Piper Bookmobile


In Columbia, the new 50,000 square-foot Columbia Public Library was completed and the last of the books were passed hand to hand from 7th and Broadway to 100 W. Broadway. The new library opened January 4, 1971. Regionally, circulation surpassed the half million mark. Funded by a grant, the specially-designed Pied Piper bookmobile served children by day and offered adult education programs by night.

Callaway County Library 1984 addition

Callaway 1984 addition


Popular items for check-out included 16mm films and projectors, art prints and sculptures, and the large print book collection was started. In 1989, the DBRL Foundation was established to secure private support for the system. Columbia made improvements to the building, creating a new Popular Reading Center, Sight and Sound Center and Parenting Center. In Fulton, income from the Union Electric nuclear power plant funded a new addition to the library. The entrance on Court Street opened February 12, 1987. The library won the Fulton Heritage Trust Award for incorporating the historic Carnegie building into the design plan.

Columbia Online Information Network

COIN, 1994


In 1990, a $500,000 State Library grant paid to computerize the card catalog. In 1993, DBRL became a charter member of COIN, the Columbia Online Information Network, the first Free-Net in Missouri. In 1995, patrons checked out more than one million items. In 1998, a record 24,000 people attended programs, and we added 50,000 items to the collection. Trustees completed the first draft of the Master Facilities Plan. That document included plans for structural improvements to the Callaway library, a new DBRL headquarters facility in Columbia and the establishment of a branch library in Ashland after statistics showed a 600% increase in circulation between 1990 and 1997 at the Ashland bookmobile stop.

Ashland library staff in new library

SoBoCo staff, 2000

Columbia Public Library, newly reopened in 2002

Columbia, 2002

Columbia Public Library, newly reopened in 2002

Callaway, 2004


On August 1, 2000, a book brigade of volunteers moved items from Ashland’s temporary bookmobile library to a newly leased building. In 2001, DBRL purchased a new and improved bookmobile. The smaller, older model was later refurbished to serve as the Youth Outreach bookmobile. The Columbia library moved back to Broadway in August 2002, opening on September 3. In the first six days the new building was open, patrons checked out 43,513 items. In Fulton, after repairs to the site and exterior, the library moved to a temporary site to allow for extensive remodeling inside and then reopened on Court Street on November 10, 2004. In July 2008, the library celebrated the centennial of library services in Fulton.

DVDs were introduced in 2000 and are now supplanting VHS videos. The One Read community-wide reading program was started in 2002. Wireless access became available in all three libraries. Audiobooks became available first on CD, then through the web (along with eBooks) and now also on Playaway portable devices. The English as a Second Language collection grew in size and was joined by a Spanish language collection.

Now and in the Future

Over the 50 years since DBRL was created, our region has grown phenomenally, and the number of patrons served and items checked out has kept pace. Regional circulation hit nearly 2 million items in 2008, up more than a half million in the last decade! System-wide, DBRL had more than 850,000 visitors last year. Our two bookmobiles now serve eight cities and several community centers.

The DBRL board is now undertaking a strategic planning process that will result in a new mission statement, values and goals through 2017. In the new year 2009, DBRL will celebrate the past and the future. We look forward to providing innovative new library services that will help meet the needs of the communities we serve.

Copyright © 2016 Daniel Boone Regional Library | (573) 443-3161 | web@dbrl.org