The Washington County Library had its beginnings in 1896 when the Schubert Club decided to establish a public lending library for the town of Jonesboro as a service project. For many years, the library was housed in a room in the Jonesboro High School (now Academy Hill Condominiums) and then on the ground floor of the Chester Inn. During most of these years, it was managed by volunteers or a very limited paid staff.
In June 1986, the library, which had been governed by a private board, became a department of Washington County government and employees became county employees.
On September 21, 1986, a new building was opened in Duncan’s Meadow and the library moved out of the Chester Inn location. This was the first building specifically designed for the library in its long history and is still the location for the system’s central library.
The library branch at Gray had its beginnings in 1968 when Anna Lou Rowe allowed her home to serve as a bookmobile station of the Watauga Regional Library. The Gray Home Demonstration Club made a public library at Gray as a service project and moved the library into the basement of the Gray Funeral Home. After the library obtained branch status, the library was moved across the street to a double wide trailer. Members of the club volunteered their time to manage the library prior to pay county library employees being assigned to the library. In 1994, the Washington County-Gray Branch Library opened at its present location on Bobby Hicks Highway in the former State Farm Insurance building.