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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Hard work, dedication by Tuttle 4-H’er helped bring library to town

STILLWATER, Okla. – Beth Armstrong has always loved to read. When she moved from Norman, Oklahoma, to Tuttle, Oklahoma, in 2008, she was surprised to learn there was no public library available.
Hard work, dedication by Tuttle 4-H’er helped bring library to town

Beth Armstrong shares her love of reading with children at the Tuttle Public Library. Armstrong, 15, was a key player in bringing a library to the residents of Tuttle. (Photo by Todd Johnson, Agricultural Communications Services)

Not one to just sit back and say “oh well,” Beth was determined to make a difference in her new town. After doing some investigating, she and her mother, Sue Armstrong, discovered the group Friends of the Tuttle Public Library. This group of citizens had been trying to get a tax-funded library started for a while, but it had been voted down twice.

As a determined 4-H’er, Beth and the group decided they would try to open a volunteer-operated library in spite of other avenues shutting down. In 2012, Beth helped make a quilt for a raffle in an effort to get some seed money to begin the process of getting a library started. Following two years of hard work, fundraising and determination, the Tuttle Public Library, located at 305 W. Main, opened its doors in May 2014 and has been going strong ever since.

“I grew up going to the library every week and have always loved reading, so getting the library started here in Tuttle was very important to me,” said Beth, who is a member of the Good Eats and Healthy Living 4-H Club. “Having the ability to come to the library and enjoy books they may not see otherwise, especially for the younger kids, is important. Books help them develop their imagination.”

The City of Tuttle had a building to house the library, and a grant was available to help fix up the inside of the building. Everything else in the library has either been donated or purchased with money that has been donated. Money also is raised through various fundraisers.

There is a plaque on the wall in the library recognizing donors. The bookshelves, which were donated, also are adorned with plaques with donors’ names.

Operating funds come from the $5 yearly fee that is charged for a library card. All children’s cards are free as long as it is tied to a paid adult card.

The library features all of the things a person would expect to find in any library. In addition to the more than 7,000 books, the library also features large print books, books on CD, eBooks, as well as nine computers for patrons to use.

“We’ve had business people come to the library to use our computers when they’ve had computer or internet issues in their own offices,” said Sue. “Students come here to do homework. We’ve also had people come here to work on their taxes. We truly are meeting the needs of the community.”

Even people who do not live in Tuttle are getting the benefits of the library. The library offers a number of books on CD and there are a few long-distance truck drivers who stop by to check one out, then return it and check out another the next time they come through town.

Liz Taylor, 4-H Youth Development educator for the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension office in Grady County, said Beth has been an active 4-H’er from the beginning.

“Beth is what I call an extreme 4-H’er. She’s active all the time,” Taylor said. “She looked at her community, saw a need and worked hard to meet that need. Beth is doing exactly what the 4-H program is designed to teach. 4-H is about education and we know if you have a love for reading, you’ll have a love for learning. The 4-H program in Grady County has been very supportive of Beth’s efforts with the library.”

During the summer months, the library features a reading program once a week for students in elementary school. This program not only benefits young readers in the area, but also provides other 4-H’ers with an opportunity to work on their leadership, community service and public speaking skills as they help out with the program. In addition to reading time, participants also get to do a make-and-take craft activity.

Taylor said because of the summer reading program, 4-H is reaching more kids than ever.

“The more you can have kids engaged in doing positive things, the better off the world is going to be. Having the library and 4-H together is a really good match,” she said.

Eleven-year-old Sage Payne is a Grady County 4-H’er who enjoys going to the library.

“I enjoy reading books about horses and hunting,” Payne said. “I also learn about new trapping techniques and I tell my dad about them. I also like to come to the library because it’s quiet and I can read, and because it’s fun here.”

Another fun activity for older kids is the Teen Video Game Tournament. The library has hosted this tournament in the past and it always has a great turnout. The next tournament is slated July 30.

“The Oklahoma Electric Cooperative donated funds to purchase a large screen TV for the library and it’s great for this tournament,” Sue said. “It’s also a great way to get the older kids into the library.”

With more than 1,300 card-carrying members, the library has definitely been well received in the Tuttle community.

“By being in 4-H, I always knew I could make a difference,” Beth said. “Through my experience in 4-H I had enough confidence that we could open a library if we just set our minds to it.”

Be sure to follow the Tuttle Library on Facebook for the latest updates on events and activities, or check out the library’s website at www.tuttlelibrary.org.

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Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000