The Honey Grove Library & Learning Center is located on the Northeast corner of the Square in Honey Grove in a beautiful early 1900’s building. The library is a project of the Hall-Voyer Foundation – which was formed in 1940. The Library has been known under several names – first the Honey Grove Library, changed to honor its founder in 1984 to Bertha Voyer Memorial Library and then again in 2018 to become more easily identifiable and reflective of its focus, purpose and drive to serve the community in which it is located.
Bertha Voyer was born on March 17, 1907 and passed away in January, 1985. She believed that Honey Grove not only needed, but deserved a quality library and convinced her husband, Richard, that a library would be an excellent project of the Foundation. The first public library opened its doors on April 27, 1962. Many citizens donated books that enabled the library to get off to a good start. The first card holder was Denny Whitley.
Two meetings held in June, 1962, at the Foundation office led to the formation of the first library council. Attending those meetings were Mrs. H. L. Ballew, Mrs. Wash Underwood, Mrs. Harry Dial, Mrs. Bertha Voyer and Mr. R. F. Voyer. It was agreed that the council should consist of seven members with staggered terms.
Members of the first council were Mrs. H. L. Ballew, Chairman, Mr. J. V. Clayton, Mrs. Harry Dial, Mrs. Kenneth Rowton, Mrs. Martha Stroup, and Miss Katherine Trout. Mrs. Voyer served as the librarian. These members formulated plans and policies for the library and devoted many hours of service to the project.
The library, known then as the Honey Grove Memorial Library, moved into the new spacious David Graham Hall Foundation Civic Center in July 1963. In 1973, there were 2,744 volumes. Expenses for books and supplies in 1963 were just over $300. Mrs. T. G. Lane served as assistant librarian from 1964 to 1973. Others serving as librarian were Evelyn Wise and Mary Fowler. Mrs. Betsy Fry devoted an entire summer to the cataloging of books.
From 1974 to 1984, Paris Junior College, who at that time was administering the David Graham Hall Trust, ran the library. Mrs. Bertha Voyer continued on during that time as the librarian. It was during that time that the college changed the name of the library to the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library, to honor its founder and long-time volunteer librarian. The Foundation, whose name had been the David Graham Hall Foundation, changed its name to the Hall-Voyer Foundation in 1984. The foundation resumed control of the library that same year.
The library became a member of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in 1985, enabling it to expand its services to the community. As a part of this, the City of Honey Grove started contributing $2,500 annually to the library operation. That amount is the same today.
When the foundation started operating the library again, a Friends of the Bertha Voyer Memorial Library organization was created in place of the advisory council. The Friends were incorporated in 1985 and hold an Internal Revenue Service determination as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. The original board of the Friends was composed of Daigone Garner, Betsy Fry, Pat Jackson, Dixie Black, Beverly Felts, H. L. Milton, Emery Banker, Mary A. Thurman, Evelyn Wise, and Mary Wells.
Looking back through old records the following names of past library advisory council members included: Lucille Ballew, Emery Banker, Virginia Bates, Dixie Black, Nell Blacketer, Marti Blair, Natalee Blair, Debbie Bowie, Sue Byrd, Debbie Carroll, F. E. Clark, Virgil Clayton, Mary Palmer Cleveland, Mrs. Robert Coffman, Carol Sisco Smith, Ken Dailey, Maxine Dial, Mrs. D. R. Dodson, Vickie Ellis, Charles Eversole, Tommie Fair, Beverly Felts, Mary Fowler, Susan Fox, Betsy Fry, Beverly Herriage, Bettie Jackson, Edna Joyce, Pat Keeley, Rosie and Bob Lane, Nancy Lee, Golda Loschke, Mildred McIver, Sandy Morrison, Mildred Morrow, Pat Newhouse, Tom Prentiss, Sharon Rambo, Vera Jo Reece, Othella Roberts, Kathryn Rowton, Betty Shelton, Billie Shelton, Jim Shelton, Robert W. Shield, Cherry Stewart, Hallie Stroud, Martha Stroup, Gail Thomas, Mary Anne Thurman, Katherine Trout, Mary Virginia Underwood, Evelyn Walden, Raida Whitley, Jean Yant, Mary Pauline and Jim Yarbrough, and Jerry Young. The Friends group has been invaluable to the library through fund-raising, public relations, and volunteers.
The library has received many grants beginning with a $10,000 grant from the Catherine Dumraese Foundation in 1986. Other grants have been received from the Dobie Trust, the Tocker Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The library has also receive notoriety as runner up to “Best Small Library in America” in 2014, Institute of Museum and Library Science National Medal Finalist 2014, EBSCO’s Excellence In Small/Rural Library Service, Texas Library Association Small Community Librarian of the Year 2014 and Small Community Library Supporter of the Year 2014 among numerous others. The library has held museum quality exhibits – The Texas Vietnam Heroes in 2014 and Discover Earth in 2016.
The Bertha Voyer Memorial Library is a far cry today from those first few volumes that were housed on grocery store shelves. Not only are books available, but also magazines, videos, music cassettes, audio books, and genealogy materials. The card catalog and circulation system is computerized, and the catalog is also available on the Internet. Educational programming is one of the many areas where the library excels.
Library service is free of charge to the public.