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Shaun D. Stahle, Deseret Morning News
The ribbon was cut Monday for the $5 million Washington County Library, which has the same style as neighboring Old Dixie Academy.

ST. GEORGE — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who, as an elementary-age student, was grateful that the library was strategically located across the street from the Thomas Judd general store, returned to his native city of St. George Monday to dedicate a newly constructed Washington County Library.

Introduced by Douglas Alder, chairman of the Washington County library board, as one who learned to love books, Elder Holland of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve "rhapsodized" about childhood memories.

He spoke of "brainy" classmates who scurried to the library following school to complete their homework before returning home, noting how some used the library for serious study.

"We put our money in banks, our food in pantries, and God and great people put their wisdom in books," he said.

Elder Holland recounted that efforts to create the first library in St. George began three years after the first settlers arrived in this harsh desert. Without any assurance that they would survive and without sufficient necessities to live, he said, they began saving produce and goods in 60-gallon barrels. When six barrels were filled, they were transported to Salt Lake City, where proceeds from the sale of the produce were applied to the purchase of reading material.

Over the years, five libraries have been constructed in St. George. The most recent, located between the St. George Tabernacle and the Old Dixie Academy on the same block, was demolished to open the grounds for a new city park to be developed between the three buildings.

The $5 million structure is designed in the same architectural style as the Old Dixie Academy constructed in the latter 1880s with its arch entries and sandstone bricks. The library becomes an anchor in this area being designed as a town square.

Dedicatory services were held in the St. George Tabernacle. An overflow audience filled the benches on the main floor and the chairs in the balcony, with others lining the walls. Keeping with tradition that began in the 1870s when Brigham Young was greeted outside of town by a brass band and accompanied into the city, a 10-piece brass band performed for the hour-long service, then led a parade of people, including Elder Holland and his wife, Patricia, from the tabernacle to the library located about 100 yards around the corner.


E-mail: shaun@desnews.com