Not Small Change: Honey Grove Library & Learning Center | Best Small Library in America

Honey Grove Library & Learning Center, TX, is one of the two finalists for LJ's Best Small Library in America. The library has been named a finalist before, in 2014; a lot has changed since then.

This is not the first time the library in 1,670-person Honey Grove, TX, has been named a finalist for the Best Small Library in America. A lot has changed since it was first selected, in 2014. Then called Bertha Voyer Memorial Library, it was honored for dramatic increases in visits and program attendance and for delivering services cut elsewhere.

The library further stepped up its game in 2016, as one of the first cohort to receive the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces $5,000 grant. The library began looking outward at its entire community, Director Pattie Mayfield told LJ, asking “what the community needed, not just from the library, but from the community as a whole.” In outreach to non-patrons, Mayfield found the name was a barrier. “People didn’t know where the library was, that there even was a library, and they could not find us.” The nonprofit’s board immediately decided to change the name. It also undertook a redo of the web page, a Facebook page, upgrades to Wi-Fi, and a building capital campaign.

The board hired a consultant, who in turn suggested that a forensic architect do a complete estimate of the work needed, more than doubling the initial estimate to $691,000. Nonetheless, the library reached its goal in a little over a year. Work proceeded piecemeal, with programming flexing around it. In spite of construction, says Mayfield, “Attendance has totally overwhelmed us... the Capital Campaign committee not only raised much needed funding—it also raised awareness of what we do, why we do it, and how important a small, rural library is to all members of the community—even if they never step foot in the door!”

Photos by Malinda Allison


About the Best Small Library in America Award

LJ’s annual award, relaunched with the support of sustaining sponsor ­Baker & Taylor (B&T), was originally created in 2005 to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000. The winning library will receive a cash prize of $5,000 from B&T; its representatives will be recognized at the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) conference in Burlington, VT, thanks to support from ARSL. The finalists for LJ's Best Small Library in America, chosen from among a large and strong array of nominees, share a focus on innovative programs and collaborations to deliver exceptional service with limited resources. Two honorable mention institutions will each receive $1,000 prizes.

For guidelines for the 2020 nomination, visit


Additional Award Finalist: Whitehall Public Library, Pittsburgh, PA 
Award Winner: Copper Queen Library, Bisbee, AZ


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Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal.

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