The library, which opened in 1985, is the fourth-oldest of its kind in Montgomery County. Originally called the Magnolia Branch Library, the facility was 2,800 square feet and shared a facility with county services.
“It was just a tiny part of where the Justice of the Peace office is,” Montgomery County Library Director Jerilynn Williams said.
After Montgomery County voters passed a bond in the early 1990s to upgrade library services, construction began on a new facility at 510 Melton St., Magnolia.
In 1997, the new 6,900-square-foot library opened and was renamed to honor former Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Malcolm Purvis. Purvis was a member of the Magnolia ISD board of trustees before serving three terms as commissioner, Williams said.
That same year, library employees began tracking the number of visits and books available, she said. In 1997, the library had an average of 3,400 visitors a month and a collection of nearly 25,000 books and publications. Today, with the addition of e-readers and an online database, the library averages 65,000 visits a month and maintains a collection of more than 67,000 items.
“People are coming to use databases and coming in digitally through the website,” Williams said. “They may not be making as many daily trips or coming just to browse, but they are coming in electronically to search our catalog and databases.”
However, Williams said the library is far from empty even with people checking out books online. Following an expansion project that was completed in 2013, the library added another 2,000 square feet to make room for a children’s area for story time and crafts as well as additional computers with early literacy programs.
“It’s a really nice place for the children,” Williams said. “[In the past year], library employees presented 251 programs in addition to after-school activities. Our library is active in a lot of different ways.”