The mission of the Bolivar County Library System (BCLS) is to serve people of all ages and diverse backgrounds by actively promoting easily accessible information, materials, services and programs designed to meet the county’s evolving educational, recreational, and cultural needs.
Library service in Bolivar County began when the Madame Hodnett Chapter of DAR created a public library in Cleveland in 1917. Having taken responsibility for the county’s library program in 1934, the Supervisors appointed Mrs. Lorene Goza as director of library services for West Bolivar County and Mrs. J. T. Robbins for East Bolivar County. Mrs. Goza was later appointed WPA District Director of Library Service for Bolivar, Coahoma, and Washington Counties.
On November 5, 1958, the Supervisors created the county-wide Bolivar County Library System and voted a half mil tax for its support. Requests for branches in Merigold, Shaw, Shelby, Rosedale, Gunnison, Mound Bayou, and Cleveland were received with other towns expressing a preference for regular bookmobile service. The first Board of Trustees were: Mrs. M. A. Bell, George Rodgers, Mrs. Jerome Lamensdorf, J. C. Box, and Mrs. Raynold Chiz.
In January 1959, the Library System borrowed a bookmobile from the Mississippi Library Commission (MLC) and began bookmobile service. On April 3, 1961, the library purchased its own bookmobile, a 1960 Ford manufactured by Gerstenslager Company. Bobbie Outlaw was the first Bookmobile Librarian until succeeded by Ira K. Harris in the fall of 1963. Future director Ronnie Wise started out as Bookmobile Librarian in 1976. Bookmobile service ended in 1982.
LePoint Cassibry Smith, Director, 1958-1986
Ronnie Wise, Director, 1986-2006
Audrey Pearson, Director, 2006-2007
Lynn Shurden, Director, 2008-2013
Jennifer Wann, Director, 2014-2018
Emily Bell, Director, 2019-Present