SCA’s Role in Establishing the Richard Byrd Library

Real estate developer, Edward Carr in 1946 wanted to create a “satellite city” within 12 miles of the capital – right off Shirley highway.  Springfield was the only large lot of land available.  He bought it and the first homes were built in 1952. By 1955, 2,000 homes were occupied with thousands more going up. These new residents wanted schools, parks, a public swimming pool and a library!  However, the county planned for a permanent library no sooner than 1960.  Until then they would have to make do with a book mobile.  For the residents of Springfield – this was not satisfactory!  Now the story gets interesting.

Beginning in 1956, Crestwood Woman’s Club investigated population growth and available space for the library.  They wrote the Library Board and Supervisors to request funds for a library.  They were told this would not happen.  Joseph Wheeler, President of the Springfield Civic Association named Wilmer Baatz as the SCA library chairman. Based on the foundational work of the Woman's Club and the SCA, a new organization was formed.   In August of 1956, the Friends of the Library was created.  SCA's Baatz served President and five local civic association representatives served as Board members. They included SCA, Upper Pohick Community League, Beverly Forest Civic Association, Springfield Forest Civic Association, and North Springfield Civic Association. While the leadership came from the SCA, many other organizations still alive and well in Springfield today participated, including the VFW Auxiliary and Chamber of Commerce.

The County agreed to entertain the following plan – the Friends working with the community would provide funds for library rent, utilities, shelving, and furniture for the first year.  The County would provide books and library staff and after the first year, the County would take over the entire enterprise.  So the community went to work.  

The original goal of $6,000 was upped by community consensus to $6,600 to provide for air conditioning – making the goal even more ambitious.  Door to door solicitations, a 4th of July celebration ($830), Woman’s Club Square Dance, White Elephant Sales (Springfield Woman’s Club), bake sales, and benefit lectures all raised money.  Leading community organizations (SCA and the Woman's Club were key factors here) spoke at the 1957 County budget hearings and those that could not attend sent letters.  The County agreed to open a library in 1958 – 2 years early – and the Friends provided a check for $6,600.

Opening day was January 22, 1958 at 6816 Backlick Road with Mrs. Evelyn Olson, Librarian and Mrs. Florence Briscoe, library aide in the library with 3,800 books – all because of a community that wanted a library and worked hard to get one.