The Bonne Terre Memorial Library is said to be one of the five oldest libraries in Missouri. In 1867 or shortly thereafter J. Wyman Jones, president of St. Joseph Lead Company, and Dr. Charles B. Parsons, mining superintendent, brought civilization to Bonne Terre by contributing their books for a library and having boxes of books shipped from other directors and stockholders in New York.
When J. Wyman Jones died in 1904 his son, Dwight A. Jones, succeeded him as president of the St. Joseph Lead Company. In his father’s memory, Dwight Jones contributed funds to erect the now-historic library building. It was built of Bedford Limestone and placed in a park-like setting enclosed by a low stone wall. The fireplace mantel in the Reading Room is a massive piece of oak supported on oak columns with marble facing and a brick hearth. In 1907 Mrs. Dwight A. Jones presented a clock, handmade in England in the late 1700’s, to the library. The clock still stands in the entrance, and keeps fairly accurate time.
Librarians who served from 1905 – 1942 include Frankie Stevens, Olive Sellors, Nannie Hobbs, Edith Low, Mildred Wellman, and Esther Frenzel. Mrs. Lucie Jakobe served as librarian for 37 years, from 1942 until her retirement in 1979. She was a memorable personality and her name is one that most people who grew up here associate with the library. She is still revered by the people of Bonne Terre, especially students that she mentored.
In December 1998 Howard and Joyce Wood donated over $500,000 to build an addition to the Library. The Friends of the Library and other volunteers raised another $300,000 to complete construction and to furnish the addition. Included in the fundraising were two computer grants from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation worth over $50,000.
The architectural firm of Chiodini Associates of St. Louis designed a beautiful addition that had tripled the Library’s square footage, 6,000 v. 2,000 sq. ft., in the historic building. The addition provides a separate children’s area with space for story hour and other program ; a computer lab with eleven computers; space for up to seven patron computers in addition to those in the lab; comfortable seating area; increased shelving for materials; new patron restrooms; and ADA access, including an elevator. The refurbished main floor of the historic building houses a room for programs and special exhibits as well a periodicals reading room. Downstairs there is increased staff office and storage