Late historian Lonn Taylor to be honored as Jeff Davis County Library is unveiled as a ‘Literary Landmark’ this Friday

Lonn Taylor. Photo by Caleb Jagger, courtesy of Dedie Taylor.

FORT DAVIS — The Jeff Davis County Library will be designated as a “Literary Landmark” this Friday, October 22, in a celebration that will honor the late Fort Davis resident, historian and writer Lonn Wood Taylor. The event will take place outdoors at the library in Fort Davis and is free to the public.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., light refreshments and music performed by Stephen Bright will give attendees the opportunity to meet and greet special guests State Librarian Gloria Meraz and Rebekah Manley from Austin’s Center for the Book.

At 6 p.m., an official proclamation will be read that declares the week of October 17 to 23 as a county observance in honor of Lonn Taylor and commemorates National Friends of Libraries week.

Taylor’s wife, Dedie Taylor, will speak after the welcome, sharing highlights of his life. Tim Johnson, the founder of the Marfa Book Company, will summarize his experiences publishing Taylor’s books. There will also be a display of his 11 books, half of which were featured at book signings by Taylor that were held at the county library in Fort Davis.

The unveiling of the Literary Landmarks plaque which highlight’s Lonn Taylor’s life will close the program. Fort Davis is one of four libraries in Texas selected this year as a “special place that attracts tourists, book lovers and history buffs” with the goal “to educate the public about literary works and history.”

Taylor was known as an extraordinary storyteller, an NPR radio and television personality, the writer of the “Rambling Boy” column in The Big Bend Sentinel as well as being a serious researcher and historian. Before retiring to Fort Davis in 2002, his career culminated in his leadership of the Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution.

Elaine Harmon, a member of the library’s friends group, said the group applied for the recognition late last year, and were notified of the honor after getting approval this spring. Only four libraries are receiving the Literary Landmark recognition this year, which is bestowed by the Texas Library and Archives Commission’s statewide Texas Literary Landmark Roundup.

The Jeff Davis County Library has a storied history itself, beginning informally in local residents’ living rooms, and moving through a few iterations of book clubs before it found its first permanent home in the county’s former jail in the 1980s. Since 2000, it has been in its current location at 100 Memorial Square.

The Friday program is sponsored by the Friends of the Jeff Davis County Library with generous support from Center of the Book, Texas State Library and Archives Commission and Foundation, the Summerlee Foundation and United for Libraries.