History of Putnam County Library


Founded in 1939, the Putnam County Library System consists of the main library in Cookeville, with branches in Baxter, Algood and Monterey, Tennessee.

The primary role of the Putnam County Library System is to serve as a popular materials center. The library seeks to build a collection of popular items in a variety of formats, with adequate duplication of high-demand titles.

Without access to books, education was inevitably limited. Fortunately, the 1920s brought about the beginnings of libraries in Putnam County.

The Cookeville Book Lovers Club began a library that eventually evolved into the Putnam County Library. In November of 1923, Clara Cox Epperson suggested that the twelve regular members of the Book Lovers Club contribute $1.15 each to purchase books. The club voted to use these books as the nucleus for a circulating library. Members checked out books from the home of Laura Copeland (known as the “Rose Cottage”) to borrowers at a cost to adults of one dollar a year.

The Book Lovers Club raised money to buy more books by sponsoring talent shows, lectures and movies; hosting tea and bridge parties; selling books; and soliciting donations. By 1929, the library had more than a thousand volumes.

Once the collection numbered over three thousand volumes, James Cox provided room for the library in the Herald building on the square. The Book Lovers Club renamed the library for Clara Cox Epperson, who had died in 1937. In 1939, the Book Lovers Club consolidated their library with that of the Putnam County Board of Education to form the county’s first publicly financed library.