Adventure Begins at YOUR Library!

Library History

100 anniversary
Woman's Clubhouse
Organized on May 13, 1908, the Woman's Civic Improvement Club discussed at its organizational meeting the sponsorship of a public library. After affiliating with the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs in March 1918, and changing its name to Sylvester Woman's Club in June of that year, the first step toward that objective was taken.
Mr. Malcolm Hugh and Mrs. Bennie Love Alford Westberry built their home at the corner of Westberry and Pope Streets in 1911.
On May 2, 1919, the club voted to rent three rooms on the third floor of the Alford Building as club rooms at four dollars per month. Records show an expenditure of $34.85 made on July 1 of the year for bookcases in the club rooms. This year was the beginning of a club library for interchange between its members, available to non-members upon request, and the nucleus from which the Sylvester-Worth County Library was to come.
The Worth County Local newspaper of July 13, 1922, carried a petition to the Superior Court of Worth County for a charter for the Sylvester Woman's Club. Among the rights petitioned was that of acquiring and maintaining a public library. This charter was granted by Judge Eve on August 19, 1922. 

At the club's meeting on November 3 of that year, Mrs. H. C. Camp reported that she had some books on hand and would soon open a small library. 
In 1925, Mrs. Will H. Westberry gave her books to the library when she moved from Sylvester to Florida. Space was limited and not until after the club bought the M. H. Westberry home did the public library take form and really function as a public library.
Sylvester Woman's Club purchased the M. H. Westberry home from Sylvester Banking Company for $7,200. 

woman's club

The Sylvester Local Newspaper, April 11, 1929
Sylvester Local April 11th, 1929
In the beginning, members of the club took turns as librarians, keeping the library open on Friday afternoons. On October 13, 1933, the club nominated Mrs. L. H. Conoly as chairman of the Library Extension Committee and voted to pay a regular librarian two dollars per month.
Mrs. Beulah Alford Johnston, a graduate of Shorter College, and an ardent supporter of the library, served as the first librarian and continued in the post until the night of her death in 1948, with the exception of a short period. During this period, due to illness in her family, she was relieved by Mrs. W. L. H. Alford, another loyal interested worker.
The Sylvester-Worth County Library Board sought admission to the Mitchell-Baker Regional Library to form a tri-county regional library. This merger went into effect on July 1, 1954, and the Sylvester -Worth County Library became a unit of the Mitchell-Baker-Worth Regional Library. From that time, its history is a part of the Regional Library. Miss Georgia Thomas was Director of the Regional Library at the time. The first members of the library board were Mrs. T. M. Purdom, Mr. John Deariso, Mr. J. R. Miller, Mr. Henry McGirt and Mr. Eugene Attaway.
For many years it had been the hope and plan of the members of the Woman's Club to have a separate building for the public library. The two rooms in the clubhouse were spilling over with books, and the point had been reached where they were stacked on the floor in every conceivable space. On May 29, 1959, a called meeting was held by the club to discuss plans for their project of supplying a building. Mrs. C. H. Strangward reported that the Presbyterian Church was for sale, and a committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of moving this church to a lot owned by the club adjoining that on which their clubhouse stood.
David C. Jones purchased and restored the Woman's Clubhouse, Bennie Love Alford home.

Alford home outside

Alford house chandelier

Alford home fireplace

Alford house front entrance

Sylvester Methodist Church/ First Presbyterian Church of Sylvester/ Sylvester-Worth County Library

During 1896 and 1897, funds were raised to build a permanent Church for the group.  A building committee was formed.  Serving on the committee were Mr. W. H. McPhaul who gave the lot and material aid; Mr. J. S. Westberry, who wasn't a Methodist but a loyal friend to the cause; Mr. G. J. Wallace; and Mr. W. A. Allen.

On the 1st of February, 1897, The Laying of the Corner Stone service was conducted by Rev. H. Stubbs, Presiding Elder of the Valdosta District, assisted by Pastor E. A. Sanders, who was entering his second year's service to the Circuit. During this service, the contractor, John McPhaul placed a corner stone of Georgia marble and inscribed with Sylvester M. E. Church, 1897, along with the names of the pastor and the building committee.

In October, 1898, the 1st church service was held in the new Sylvester Methodist Church located on the corner of Pope and Westberry Streets..

methodist church


In 1909, the Sylvester Methodist Church had grown to the point that the members felt they had outgrown the current building and plans were made to build a new Church. The corner stone for the new Pinson Methodist Church was laid in 1910.


In the fall of 1911, the First Presbyterian Church of Sylvester purchased the Sylvester Methodist Church building. 

Church 1898


In 1959, the Sylvester Presbyterian Church building and lot was sold to the Worth County Hospital Authority.  The Church building was then sold to the Sylvester Woman's Club for $200.00 to be moved across the street to the lot next to the Sylvester Woman's Club to be used for a library.  Money for the purchase was donated to the Sylvester Woman's Club by the Sylvester Banking Company.

On August 6, 1959, county workers removed the tall steeple and the vestibule from the building before it was to be moved across the street by commercial movers.

Sylvester Local News, September 3, 1959
SLN september 3, 1959

On December 24, 1959, The Sylvester Local reported that the contract for the repairs and remodeling of the building had been let to J. B. Bower of Poulan. The total cost for moving and remodeling was $5,290.00. 

TSL augst 13 1959church library with sign


On May 22, 1960, remodeling of the building, including the addition of a front porch with double doors, had been completed. The Sylvester-Worth County Library moved into the Presbyterian Church with an Open House held at the new library on May 22, 1960. The old atmosphere of the building, with its high beaded ceiling and its stained glass windows, was carefully preserved.
church as library 1960Church Library Intereior 1

The Sylvester Local May 19, 1960
TSL May 19 1960 - Copy - Copy - Copy

Margaret Jones Public Library has a long history of partnering with the Worth County Schools to support students and teachers.  Worth County High School's 1963 Ram yearbook highlighted the public library's services to students.

1963 annual
In 1978, the Sylvester Woman’s Club signed the deed transferring ownership of the local library to the City of Sylvester and the County of Worth with the agreement that they accept responsibility of maintaining it as a public library.
In 1987, the Sylvester-Worth County Library moved across the street to a new building located at 205 E. Pope Street.

Boy Scouts

In 1988, the building known as the Sylvester Methodist Church/ First Presbyterian Church of Sylvester/ Sylvester-Worth County Library was sold to David Sr. and Rita Jones. 


At the present time, the building is occupied by Abundant Life Ministries.

Church Today

Brick Building
With the approval of an architect and funds secured, the new library began taking shape.  Bids for construction were advertised November 1, bids were opened December 1 and construction began on January 1, 1986.

Page 1 of Sylvester Local News,published in Sylvester, Georgia on Thursday, September 5th, 1985
Construction of the new library began in 1986.

Front entrance
Side entrance
back side
On November 22, 1987, over 500 people attended dedication of the  Margaret M. Jones Public Library. "It's a symbol of education, it's a symbol of learning, not only for this community but for our state," said Governor Joe Frank Harris during his remarks.
"It's a real cornerstone for progress," he continued. "As we gather here today to dedicate this monument to the future may we dedicate our efforts and support for the continued progress for education not just for our young people and youth but for our senior citizens and all those between."

Joe Frank Harris

Mrs. Margaret M. Jones, for whom the library was named, presented a Bible to the library. She said that she presented the Bible "in hopes that those who search for wisdom and knowledge in these walls will first find inspiration through these pages."

Dedication program speakers and service can be seen by clicking on the cover photo.
Dedication program cover
Andre Hill, a native of Sylvester, returned home from Atlanta to be the artist of the month at the library for the month of April, 1994. Hill is the son of Flossie L. Hill. Most people remember Hill as a star football player at Worth County HIgh School between 1980 and 1982 but he was also a talented artist. 

Andre Hill

One of his signature pieces was an oil painting of the Old Worth County Courthouse which was built in 1905. Two of his paintings depicting historical landmarks of Sylvester hang in the library, "The Old Train in the Park" and "Big Poke."

The Library Board of Trustees voted to rename the DeSoto Room to the Marian A. Sumner Room in honor of the late Marian A. Sumner. A dedication and reception was held on July 2, 2000. She was editor and publisher of the The Sylvester Local newspaper for over 50 years. 
In the 1980's Worth Countians began to see the need for a new library building as the old building was not large enough to accommodate patrons. 
Marian A. Sumner was a leader in the drive from the beginning realizing the need for a building that would meet the growing demands of not only the present but future generations. 
She used her influence in the political arena to make a new library a reality. After the completion of the building she tirelessly campaigned for funds to complete the meeting room which she named the DeSoto Room.

Marian Sumner
Pictured from left to right: Library Board Vice-Chairman Marian A. Sumner, County Commission Chairman Wilson Mims, Sylvester Mayor Oren Harden and Library Board Chair Ernest Harris. 
Sylvester native Sue Monk Kidd signed copies of her best-selling novel, The Secret Life of Bees, on Saturday July 20, 2002, in the Marain A. Sumner room of the library. 

As a child, Sylvester native and critically acclaimed novelist Sue Monk Kidd could not separate in her mind the entanglement of church and library. Her mother says that she would beg to go to church. Her parents Ridley and Leah Monk were awed by her piety until they realized she meant the library. 

Pictured left to right: Mrs. Leah Monk, Mrs. Sue Monk Kidd, Mrs. Vickie Willis Young and Mrs. Virginia Andrews.
On July 1, 2008, the Margaret Jones Public Library left the DeSoto Trail Library System to form the Worth County Library System.
100 balloons

On the evening of August 26, 2022, we celebrated 100 years of library service to Worth County. All three of the buildings that have served as libraries were open to the community to tour and reminisce. Members of the Worth County Historical Society along with Rita, David and Lane Jones served as docents at each building to share the rich history. We are grateful to the Jones family for preserving and restoring the Bennie Love Alford home and the Methodist Church. 

Rita B. Jones by portrait of Margaret Jones Ste Rep Yearta Clubhouse

Inside Church Sara's Family

church  100 stained glass - Copy Joe and Rita

100 cake staff