Baxter County Library Reflects on 10th Anniversary in the Donald W. Reynolds Building

The Baxter County Library is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in the Donald W. Reynolds Library building on October 10, 2020. On Saturday, October 10, from 10-11:30am, the public is invited to stop by the Library to pick up a cup of hot cider and a cinnamon donut in commemoration of the historic day. Available while supplies last. COVID-19 protocols will be followed. Masks and social distancing required.

Throughout the month of October, the Baxter County Library will be honoring the Library’s past, its significance to the community, and its vision for the future. Limited edition commemorative Library cards featuring a brand-new watercolor illustration of the building will be available for purchase with a donation of $5 or more at the Information Desk. A special display in the Library foyer will feature Library memorabilia. Also during October, the Read | Write | Ignite Literary Series will be taking place, featuring virtual author visits and writing and craft workshops. To see what virtual events are happening during the Read | Write | Ignite Literary Series, check out the calendar on the Library’s website at

Long before the Donald W. Reynolds Library as we know it today broke ground, the Baxter County Library had gone through multiple locations. The Library was first opened in the 1930s in the basement of the Mountain Home courthouse on the square by the 20th Century Women’s Club. It was a tiny, dark, and cramped location run exclusively by volunteers and in the 1940s, managed by the Business and Professional Women’s Club. In the 1950s, the Library was relocated above the fire station at the north end of Baker Street, and in 1956 officially became the Baxter County Library with the establishment of a 1 mil county property tax.

More recently, and probably most familiar to current Baxter County residents, would be the previous location of the Library on Seventh Street which opened in 1964. Located near the Mountain Home Square with just 3,200 square-feet, that location went through multiple expansions through the years, but ultimately the Library outgrew the space. Then in 2008, after years of hard work and perseverance, spearheaded by former Library Director Gwen Khayat, the Library was awarded a $9.8 million grant by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Dedicated members of the Baxter County Public Library Foundation at the time made it their mission to raise $2,000,000 in the community, as a requirement of the grant. Headed up by Campaign Chair Deborah Knox, the campaign was a success. These funds, matched by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, were used to establish restricted funds, managed by the Library Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. The Foundation funds are necessary to supplement the county property tax millage, which has not increased from the original 1 mil set in the 1950s.  In 2019, funding from the Library Foundation including donations provided nearly 30% of the Library’s annual operating budget, with additional funding coming from state funding and the Friends of the Library.

The Library has grown significantly through the years, not only in square-footage, but also as a vital community center in Baxter County. When the Donald W. Reynolds building first opened, the collection featured 75,000 items which has since grown to hold 105,642 items as of 2020. As a public epicenter, the Library has always provided a place for community organizations to gather, parents to bring their children for storytimes and a snack, teens to meet up and work on homework or hang out after school, job seekers and entrepreneurs to access public computers and internet, and college students to study. The interior is also host to a wide array of art on display by primarily local artists, featuring photographs and artistic interpretations of the area’s beauty and history.

The Library’s offerings and resources have always been on the cutting edge too, enabling the community to grow and thrive in the 21st century. With access to eBooks and eAudiobooks, computers, copiers, online language learning, databases, workshops, the addition of special collections such as ukuleles and telescopes, and a brand-new redesigned website, the Library has always kept its eyes set on the future to provide patrons with the tools they need to succeed.

With a heartfelt thank you to Library Foundation Trustees, past and present, Friends of the Library members, Library volunteers, and our amazing Library staff, we hope you will join us on October 10 to reminisce on the ways the Library has enriched your life and celebrate this prominent landmark and symbol of pride in Baxter County.

Inspiring Imagination | Igniting Interests | Enabling Learning

Published by on September 25, 2020
Last Modified October 22, 2020
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