Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001 Page: 29
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she said. "We must let the people find out what
the enemy is thinking."
As the Dallas Public Library approached its
fiftieth anniversary, Cleora stepped up her crusade
for a modern central library, even allowing
herself to be photographed holding a bucket to
catch water from the leaking roof. But support
for improvements was slow to build. In her first
annual report to the board, Cleora had mentioned
the library's need for more money. "The
refrain became the library theme song," she wrote
in I947, "and has been featured in every monthly
and annual report since that time. Sometimes the
librarian sings it as a solo, sometimes there are
variations with the Board joining in, sort of a la
Fred Waring, sometimes the patrons and citizens
join in in a kind of Billy Sunday revival with the
newspapers taking top line. Once in a while the
city fathers add a few dollars to the budget and
kind citizens drop a few dollars in the cup, but by
and large no one seems too impressed." All of
which meant, she concluded, "that we shall continue
with the same theme until Dallas has a
building and a budget commensurate with its
Finally, with the help of the newly formed
Friends of the Dallas Public Library, funds were
secured and plans developed for a new Central
Library. At the end of 953, Cleora supervised the
removal of all the books from the old building
and their temporary placement in Union Station.
The I901 building was demolished, and construction
began at Commerce and Harwood on a
state-of-the-art library. Cleora's dream was
finally about to be realized.
But Cleora would not get to occupy the new
facility for which she had fought so long. In I954
she announced her retirement. She may have
been eased out by a board of trustees looking for
a younger director. Or, seeing her goal achieved,
she may have decided it was time to go. Accounts
differ. In either case, she made a typically graceful
exit early in I955, a few months before the new
Central Library opened. She threw herself into
retirement with the same gusto she had brought
to her career, reading, traveling, and volunteering
at her church. She lived next door to her younger
sister-also a librarian-and their niece recalls
Friday evening family gatherings dissolving into
"a riot of laughter."
At the time of Cleora's death in 1968, Siddie
Joe Johnson, long-time children's librarian, wrote,
"Tenacity was the name for Cleora, this small,
merry, bright-eyed woman." The new central
library "was built with the mortar of her faith." "A
book-lover who was not bookish ... she was one
of the greatest book-women Dallas has ever
known."The Friends of the Dallas Public Library
decided to buy a rare book in her memory, so
library director Lillian Bradshaw and librarian
Marvin Stone went to New York. After visiting
various book dealers, they found an exquisite,
medieval Book of Hours, which they carefully carried
back with them on the airplane. This tribute
remains, in Mrs. Bradshaw's opinion, one of the
most beautiful items in the library's collection, a
fitting tribute to a noble woman.
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001, periodical, 2001; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/31/: accessed April 5, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.