Livingston Municipal Library

Mission Statement & Library History

Mission Statement

Livingston Municipal Library attempts, within its financial means, to collect, organize, to make accessible, and distribute library materials to meet the informational needs of individuals and groups, to facilitate informal self-instruction, to encourage positive recreation and constructive use of leisure time, and to act as a supplemental resource in the formal education of the children and young people in the community.


The Free Public Library, established in 1932, was the first public library serving the city of Livingston.  Located in an unused jury room of the Polk County Courthouse, the library was sponsored by the Study Club and the local PTA.  The library opened with 600 books, half of which were on loan from the Texas State Library, and Mrs. L.R. Wade became the first librarian.

In 1936, the Free Public Library qualified for federal assistance through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the addition of two WPA workers allowed the library to expand its hours.  Four years later the library had outgrown its original surroundings, and was moved to a larger room inside the courthouse.  In December 1942, the WPA ceased its funding, and the library was forced to close.

With the help of the newly formed local Library Association, the Free Public Library was moved to the J.W. Cochran building and reopened in February 1943.  Dues collected from the Library association were its main source of funding.  In 1950, the Livingston Hub Club began sponsoring the library, and by 1951 the library had once again outgrown its quarters and moved to the courthouse basement, with Marjorie Butler acting as librarian.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the community, led by Mrs. Gertrude Blodgett Murphy, began efforts to construct a new public library building.  Not only was Mrs. Murphy integral in setting up a corporation to handle the funds being raised, but she was also responsible for getting a charter from the Texas State Library to establish a public library in Livingston. 

Mrs. Murphy underwrote the publishing costs for funds raised from the book, Kalita’s People, by Aline Rothe.  The proceeds from the sale of the book were donated to the library building fund.  Sadly, in 1965, Mrs. Murphy passed away, leaving $100,000 to help build the new library.  This amount, along with funds raised previously was enough to qualify for state and federal matching grants. 

Construction of the new building began in 1967, and by the spring of 1969, the renamed Murphy Memorial Library officially opened its doors.  The City Council of Livingston designated the library as a community library, and in 1978 the library joined the Houston Area Library System (HALS).

In Murphy Memorial Library’s 33-year history, there have only been three library directors: Mrs. Lillian Sewell, Mrs. May Dowlin, and the library’s current director, Priscilla Emrich.

In 1996, the library closed for five months for renovations that would bring it into compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).  Renovations included installing a wheelchair lift, creating a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, relocating the front entry, and installing stairs.  During this time the library staff worked on projects that would prepare the library for automation.

A matching grant from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF) in 1997 enabled the library to purchase two computers for public Internet access.  Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have helped the library purchase more computers for public access.  In 2001, the library received another TIF grant to upgrade its automation network and access to the Internet.

In May 2014, Livingston Municipal Library (formally Murphy Memorial Library) opened its new location on Tyler Avenue in Livingston.  The renovated building houses several conference/meeting rooms, a Young Adult room, a Children's Activity Room, Friends of the Library Room, a dedicated computer lab, as well as several wi-fi accessible seating areas.  The new library's grand opening was held on May 10, 2014.