Joetta Jeanette Taylor was born in Tom Bean, Texas, as were her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Her great-great grandparents came from White Mound. Roots like that go deep. Though she moved to Abilene after finishing the fifth grade, Tom Bean was always home.
At age fifteen, she volunteered to work in the Abilene Public Library and continued her service during her junior and senior years in high school. “I’ve always loved libraries and spent time in them whenever I could. I was the oldest of eight, and the library was a wonderful place. It had high windows that let in lots of light and was quiet. I did homework there and read all of the Grace Livingston Hill books I could find.”
She met her husband Ronald Cotton and married when she was eighteen. He was a welder and an oil field worker, and the couple moved often to follow jobs in New Mexico, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Colorado.
In 1978, the Cottons moved to Chickasha, Oklahoma, Ronald’s home town. Joetta worked as a secretary in an oil field company. When the oil business went bust, she landed a job in the Chickasha Library as an administrative assistant and loved it. She took library science classes and completed a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and soon became the Library Director.
In 2006, the Cottons retired and came home to Tom Bean. Their children and grandchildren were already here, one of them living in her great-grandmother’s house. When Joetta discovered that the small public library in Tom Bean was shut down, temporarily at least, she decided that would never do. She took one look at the tiny room with hand-me-down books, rolled up her sleeves and went to work to rectify the situation.
Today with the help of Friends of the Library and other patrons, the Tom Bean library is open and growing. Cotton has bought computers, added new books, and acquired a healthy genealogy section. Her biggest dream is more space, but that would take a lot of money.
“I don’t want to do this forever. I want to retire. But I guess I just can’t help myself. What can I say? I love libraries.”
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Tom Bean Library
201 S. Britton Street
Tom Bean TX