OKLAHOMA CITY - Built in 1925, in what was then called Packing Town, the Wright Library is the metro's oldest active library. It still provides a wealth of resources that can be utilized during these hard economic times.
The Wright Library is located in Stockyard City, where the world's largest stocker and feeder cattle market can be found. This area of town was known for its deep rooted economic and racial divisions. The library was built to help reach out to communities outside of the upper class citizens of the city.
Reference Librarian Buddy Johnson is the metro library systems historian. He explained when the library was built, this area of town looked completely different.
"The stockyards and the big meat packing plants were built here in 1910, 1911," Johnson said. "It was kind of a wild area. It could sometimes be lawless. Some illegal activities would go on that wouldn't be noticed and a lot of the city's poorest people lived here."
The city wanted to provide a service to these people so they could better their lives. Those services included helping residents learn to read.
Today, libraries, including the Wright Library, are helping surrounding communities during tough economic times. The library system offers patrons free services such as resume building and access to internet. There are even computer programs that help retrain people with new skills. People use these new skills to find jobs or change careers.
"It's not just books," Johnson said. "There's videos, DVDs. The data bases, a lot of them you can use from home for doing your research and homework. It doesn't cost anything to check out books or materials, or getting online. It's all free."