Diboll’s love affair with its library is almost as old as the town itself.
Thomas Louis Latané Temple founded Diboll in 1894, and a few years later his Southern Pine Lumber Company built a guesthouse known as “The Library”. The house was frequently visited by the Temple Family and company officials, and the living room featured bookshelves lined with books for guests to read. Soon after, Temple convinced Mrs. Fannie Farrington to relocate from St. Louis and assist in establishing a community and the bringing of culture to the area. Farrington managed a non-circulating book collection until Diboll’s citizens gained access to a public library for the first time in 1934 when, following the opening of Lufkin’s Kurth Memorial Library, a book station was established in Diboll.
As Diboll continued to grow, it became clear that the citizens needed their own library. In 1960, at the urging of Arthur Temple, Jr., Latané Temple, then Vice President of the Southern Lumber Company, secured a small 12x12 frame building and set it up in an area just off the Village Square. Diboll’s first public library opened with a modest 1,200 donated books and an operating budget of $800 raised by the Friends of the Diboll Library organized by James L. Love. The first library board was appointed by the Diboll Booster Club in 1961 with Love elected Board Chairman, and the following year fundraising efforts were begun to secure funds for a new library building. The 1962 Diboll Day funds raised by the Booster Club, totaling $6,000, were donated to the library project, and additional funds came from the community, the Temple Family, and a federal grant program.
The 4,400 square foot T.L.L. Temple Memorial Library was officially dedicated on April 25, 1964. The new building featured an 80 seat meeting room and a book capacity of 10,000 volumes. Architect John Desmond of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, designed the building to be built using locally manufactured products, and subsequently won an award from the Institute of American Architects for his efforts. The library was also awarded the Texas Library Association Project of the Year award in 1968. The library was expanded in 1981 with the addition of the Jim & Mae Love North Wing, and again four years later with the opening of the Temple Archives. The Archives Department was relocated to their own $2 million facility, now known as The History Center, in May 2003.
Today, the library stands in the same place in the heart of the community, though longtime Angelina County residents will notice some changes. After an ambitious expansion project completed in 2008, the library now boasts over 14,000 square feet of space, more than 48,000 volumes in its collections, and the 2,300 square foot Ellen & Buddy Temple Community Room. The building project also saw the addition of the Judge John Hannah, Jr. Reading Room, honoring the late Diboll native for his work for the State of Texas and later as a federal judge. The building renovation project won architects Goodwin-Lasiter Inc. the 2009 Texas Forest Association’s Excellence in Wood Design Award and in 2010 lead architect Ken Jones was presented with the Long-Sullivan Award.
In 2014, the library celebrated 50 years of exemplary service to the citizens of Diboll. From humble beginnings in a borrowed building, the library now serves over 5,000 members from towns all over East Texas and regularly provides educational and entertaining programs for all of Angelina County. Library staff strives to assist patrons in any way possible, fulfilling the library mission of enhancing the quality of life for area residents by providing access to print, non-print, and online resources and programs that support lifelong learning and the love of reading.