A brief history of the Pryor Public Library

You may realize that Pryor and its surrounding areas have a fascinating and unique history. But did you know the Pryor Public Library has a rich history all its own?

The earliest beginnings of a library in Pryor start in 1914 With the I.O.O.F. (International Organization of Odd Fellows) and their female ancillary organization, the Rebekahs. The Rebekahs spearheaded a project to provide a free library, which was housed within the I.O.O.F. Lodge.

Going forward a few years, the Pryor Busy Bee Home Demonstration Club also organized a free library project to service the citizens of Pryor. Starting in the early 1930s, the library was shuffled around to a few different locations including a couple of downtown shops. At one point the library was lodged within the home of a Busy Bees Club member!

In 1938 enough support was garnered within the community to start a public library on an institutional level. The City of Pryor voted and approved a levy in its budget for a real, bonafide public library. The Pryor Public Library became a real thing!

graham blgPHOTO: Graham Community Building. Thompson Studio. 1946.
bookmarkPHOTO: Bookmark from the Pryor Public Library, circa 1947

You may have an idea about how the rest of this story goes: for a while, the Pryor Public Library could be found on the second floor of City Hall. In September 1939 the library moved to the Graham Community Building. In 1958, after generous contributions from Thomas J. Harrison, the Pryor Public Library found itself housed within the building we all know and love today.

renderingPHOTO: Design Concept by famed mid-century architectural firm
Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson, Roloff Architects, Oklahoma City, OK.


PHOTO: Patrons enjoy their books in the reading room of the library. Circa 1959.

corneliaPHOTO: Library Director Cornelia Sifferman looks on from the Main Circulation desk. Circa 1959.

wake up

PHOTO: National Library Week campaign logo. American Library Association, 1959.
This logo was displayed around the Pryor Public Library.

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Our favorites from 2014 (part 1)

As we all prepare to gather with friends and family – eating black eye-peas, singing Auld Lang Syne and watching a glistening ball drop to ring in the New Year – we librarians though we’d reflect on the best parts of 2014. Most specifically, we thought we’d share our favorite books, movies, and other media that we added to the Pryor Public Library in 2014.

Marie’s List:

5) And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy this combination of humor and reflection. Jane decides to spend a year trying out the life of a nun in four different convents just as her long-time boyfriend proposes to her – will she choose a life of religious contemplation or the partnership of marriage?

4) Gulp by Mary Roach. Here’s a science writer who isn’t afraid to take on the tough questions, like: who taste-tests pet food? This is a book that’s both funny and informative, and answers questions you never would have even thought to ask.

3) The Ice Dragon by George R R Martin. Is this a fairytale, a children’s book, a fable…? I can’t figure it out and I don’t care. This is simply a lovely story of a young, sad girl and her impossible ice dragon. Although not directly related, it’s set in the same world as A Song of Ice and Fire, and it’s beautifully illustrated.

2) Personal by Lee Child.
“Action-packed” doesn’t even begin to describe the Jack Reacher series, and this latest book is no exception. I have to be careful when I start reading one of these books, because I know I won’t want to do anything else until it’s done!

1111_art-of-asking1) Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Maybe you know her from the Dresden Dolls. Maybe you know her as Neil Gaiman’s wife. Maybe you just know her as that lady with the drawn-on eyebrows who sometimes takes off her clothes in public. But I can guarantee that whatever you think you know about Amanda Palmer, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here she talks about her art, her marriage, and how she both longs for and fears asking for help.

Heather’s List:

5) Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman. Anne Hillerman has done a fascinating job in taking up her father’s pen and finding her own voice as a writer. The novel still features Officer Chee and Detective Leaphorn, but is told from the perspective of Officer Bernadette Manualito. A must read for Tony Hillerman fans, or anyone who likes plot-twisting mysteries with strong female protagonists.

4) Attack on Titan (manga written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama). I love this series because it pulls from post-apocalyptic science fiction and ancient Greek mythology. What a seemingly juxtaposed mash-up, right? The story focuses on three cadets, the Titans they set out to kill, and the scientific mystery that shrouds the Titans.

3) August Osage County (movie). I have to preface that I am a little biased, since this story takes place near my home. But I can also strongly attest that the film – based on the internationally acclaimed play by Tulsan playwright Tracy Letts – has totally got Osage County’s number. A broken family is brought together by the painfully offhanded suicide of their father. In their dysfunctional gathering, the family has to sort through the histories of the past and grapple with the honesty of the present. Meryl Streep and Julia Robert have astonishing mother-daughter chemistry on screen.

2) I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems. Just introduced to Mo Willems this year, I instantly fell in love with his clever and charming characters. His books can be enjoyed by parents as well as kids! In this book, Piggie uses her pluckiness and ample persistence to convince Gerald its okay to play and pretend. Memorable lines: Piggie: “Everyone pretends.” Gerald: “Even grown-up people?” Piggie: “All the time.”

111111) Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell. This book is an incredible jaunt that everyone should go on. Now! Tomorrow? It really doesn’t matter; time is subjectively objective, or objectively subjective. Part sci-fi, part post-apocalyptic fantasy—and all time travel—this book goes beyond blending genres and becomes something all its own. The protagonist, jaded from observing all of human history, discovers that his own life is a perplexing mystery – one that he will spend the rest of his life (or lives?) trying to unravel. Ferrell writes with the sharpness of Kurt Vonnegut and the foreboding of Cormack McCarthy. I’ve never read anything quite like this book.

Susan, our director, focused a lot on Young Adult literature this Year. Here is her Top Five for Teens List:

5)  Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick.  Music fans everywhere are going to appreciate this time travel young adult novel, especially when the time travel includes going back to Woodstock!  Rich pulls out a guitar that has been hidden from him (he thinks it’s because of its extreme value) and plays it in defiance.  It could be that Rich will meet not only his father as a young man, but the great guitar player of his father’s era:  Jimmy Hendrix!  Not for the meek and merry, but this book brings another look at the great historical concert from a different perspective.

4)  Cinder by Marissa Meyer Cinder does to Cinderella Tales what Twilight did to Vampire stories in this true science fiction book.  Like Twilight, Cinder is the first in a series and the characters are unbelievably attractive even though the horror exists and surrounds them.  Like Twilight the moment I finished the first (and the second) book, I wanted to begin the next.  I’m not saying that only people who like Twilight will love Cinder!  No, not at all!  Even those die-hard vampire fans will want to put down their wanna-be Twilight novels and read about Cinder the cyborg mechanic.

3) Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge.  Written in prose, Walker offers up prayers to Jesus because he questions why his brother, Noah, died.  Interestingly enough, Jesus answers in this controversial book that will have adults frowning.  I expect this one to enter the banned books for the upcoming season.

2) Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers.  Loved this Britain 15th-century historical fiction about a female assassin who must fight her way though deadly palace deceptions, sickening sexual servitude, and baffling assignments.  Action packed seat-burner and nail-biter. Those who love King Arthur books will enjoy this as well.

111) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  This is the perfect love story.  There is no place to sit when Eleanor steps onto the bus on her first day of school. No one will let her sit.  Just as she’s about to think she has to stand for the trip, Park slides over to let her sit with him.  This book has all the components and I’m guessing they are scrambling to make the movie!  It’s not about perfect people by no means, but this one is not to miss.

Basically, 2014 was full of awesome! What were your favorites this year?

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Summer is finally here! We’re pretty excited, and especially for a particularly good reason: it’s time to start the Summer Reading Program. So why are we excited about the program? Because we like books? Of course. Because we appreciate air-conditioning during hot Oklahoma summers? Well, sure. But the main reason we’re all about the Summer Reading Program is because it prepares our youth for better performance in the future.

It’s not just a good idea that kids stay intellectually stimulated throughout the summer months, its actually pretty vital. There happen to be many studies about the benefits of reading programs (such as the ones listed on the New York State Education Department’s report, The Importance of Summer Reading Programs , or this one by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction). Almost all of them indicate children who miss out on intellectual activities during the summer months – a time many researchers call “the summer slump” – are not only set back when they return to school in the fall, but have achievement gaps later on in middle and high school years as well. (If you are interested in this topic please check out the links at the bottom of the page…)

But your public library is here to help of course! Three words: Fizz, Boom, Read! Following the national summer reading program initiative, Fizz Boom Read reflects the utilization of STEM curriculum in today’s schools. It also strives to increase science-related activities in public libraries.

Thomas J Harrison Pryor Public Library is going to buzzing with some incredibly awesome and fun science activities. We have stuff planned for kids of all ages, by the way. Live performers, exciting visits from the Science Museum of Oklahoma, animal guests from a wildlife rescue, and readings by the most animated of storytellers are mere highlights of what kids will be able to see and do this summer. We’ll also have a weekly book club for kids 9-12, and some pretty rad science projects for teens every Thursday in July.

Of course, all of this starts officially tomorrow/today with our annual turtle race. Come by and check out all the fun we’re having!


More information on the importance of summer reading programs:

“Library Summer Reading Programs: ALA Library Fact Sheet 17.” Ala.org. American Library Association, January 2014. Web. 2 Jun. 2014.

Alexander, K., Entwistle D., & Olsen L (2007). “Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap.” American Sociological Review. no. 72, 167-180.

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June 3, 2014 · 1:24 am

Summer Time Fun : classes for adults

While the children’s Summer Reading Program is coming up very soon (don’t miss the kickoff with our annual Turtle Race on June 3rd!), don’t think that all the fun is for the young folks! We have some fantastic new adult classes coming up: known as the Summer Photo Series, the first two classes will help participants learn how to make remarkable digital images, and how to use special effects to make those images extraordinary. The third class takes creativity to a new level: a hands-on class that teaches participants how to prepare old and abandoned books so they can become repurposed into new, personalized creations. All materials will be provided (but don’t forget to bring your pictures!) and of course, all classes are free and open to the public.

Uploading, Scanning, and Saving Photos is the first class in the Summer Photo Series. In this course, participants will learn how to take their photos – from print or digital form – and upload them onto a computer. Then, participants will learn some basic editing techniques to polish their photos into high quality images. We do ask that patrons remember to bring in their photos, cameras, memory cards, adapters – any equipment needed to upload the pictures. Participants will be given a free flash drive on which to save their images.

Pic Monkey Photo Editing is the second class in the series, and will show patrons how to take their save digital images and edit them on the Pic Monkey photo editing website. The site helps users make their photos outstanding through modifications, filters, and beautification tools. The result: incredible photos that really pop! We kindly ask that patrons remember to bring in their digitally saved photos on a flash drive or disk.

Be sure to bring your creative spark to the third class of the series, Altered Books 101. This class will largely be hands-on, and entirely fun! Participants will learn how to take old or unwanted books and convert them into works of art. What you make is entirely up to you – whether it’s a scrapbook, memory book, journal, travel log, guest book, or gift book, it will have your stamp of awesomeness. (You can explore some altered book ideas on Pinterest.) Explaining the cool factor doesn’t quite illustrate just how great these books are, so we’d though we’d include a short video:

Materials and tools will be supplied by the library; however, you’re  encouraged to bring any photos, embellishments or scrapbooking supplies you wish to personalize your altered book.

We are all pretty excited about these classes, and are looking forward to seeing all the spectacular creations participants come up with. Hope to see you there!

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Are you the person we’re looking for?

We have a job opening! The official posting is here, but … well, we felt it was more than a little boring, and didn’t convey what we were actually looking for very well.

monsters(here’s a picture of some dancing monsters that invaded the library recently, just to jazz this post up)

Without further ado, our new and improved job posting!

The Thomas J. Harrison Pryor Public Library is seeking a fun and engaging personality to manage the youth department and lead youth programing from 0 – 18. Funny socks encouraged but not required. No divas need apply! Duties include acting zany in public, collection development, thinking outside the box, storytelling (with all the voices), planning and organizing exciting events such as teen movie nights, teen and youth summer reading programs, toddler and bilingual story times, and more.

Crafty and organizational skills a plus! Must be a team player, and enjoy being around humans, even humans who shriek, ask inappropriate questions and/or may be slightly sticky.

Must have a tolerance for mild chaos and a reasonable amount of noise.

Of course, all the boring but necessary requirements apply: working knowledge of computers and common computer software, ability to perform troubleshooting on common technology, customer service skills, cheerful demeanor.

If this sounds like you, fill out an application online at www.pryorok.org or pick up a paper application at the Pryor, Oklahoma City Hall.

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What’s the value of a library?

This is Marie writing, and before you read this post, you should know a little background about me:

* I grew up in a very literary family who visited the library weekly
* I read a lot (but now I can use the excuse that it helps me be a better librarian!)
* Since 2000 I’ve kept meticulous records of books read & movies watched
* I’m not a math person by anyone’s definition, but I do like statistics
* I can make great pies, but my pie-chart making skills are below average

I was thinking recently about how much my family used the library as I was growing up, and how we would never have been able to afford to make reading our primary entertainment if we’d had to buy all the books we read – not to mention all the library programs we attended and other library services we used.

And that got me thinking … how much money did we save by using the library? Well, I don’t have records of my reading back that far, but I thought it would be fun to take my records from last year and create a little chart using the average prices for books, ebooks, audiobooks, and dvds.


Yeah … I’d say the library is a pretty valuable resource to me!

What is the library’s value to YOU? If you’re curious, there’s a wonderful library value calculator you can use. Comment and tell us your results!

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Go Beneath the Surface with our teen summer reading program!



It’s that time again! Yes … Summer Reading Program time, which means great books to read, programs to attend, and lots of chances to win awesome prizes. For kids age 4 through 12, it’s not too late to sign up for our kid’s program – but this is a special post for teens age 12 – 17. Teens, here’s what you need to know:

1.  We’re having a Teen Summer Reading Program! It’s during June and July, and if you’re a teen all you have to do is sign up at the library.

2. The more you participate, the more chances you have to win prizes like Kindle Fires and iPod Shuffles. But wait! The more teens sign up, the more prizes there will be. So tell your friends to sign up too.

3. There are so many ways to earn more chances to win. One way is to keep keep track of the books you read – for every three books, you get one chance. (We’ve got a form for that – pick one up at the front desk.) You get another chance (limit one per day) each time you tell us something about what you’re reading by:

  • Commenting on our Facebook wall
  • Commenting on this post
  • Tweeting @TJHPPL
  • Calling us
  • Attending a teen program

4. Yes, teen programs! We’ll be sharing more info later, but we’re going to have some great programs on July 11th, 18th, and 25th.

5. Here’s the tl;dr recap: SIGN UP, READ, PARTICIPATE and possibly WIN A KINDLE FIRE OR IPOD! 

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