The Natrona County Public Library System traces its origins to a reading room established and operated by the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1902. A Library Association was organized on November 3, 1903. Casper Mayor Wilson S. Kimball, a trustee of the library, wrote to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in June of 1905. His efforts were rewarded with a $10,000 grant to the town of Casper to construct a library. C.A. Randall designed the building and Charles Galusha was awarded the $10,400 construction contract.
After two years, the library was still incomplete and funds were depleted. Carnegie agreed to donate another $3,000, however, the building still remained unfinished. The Town Council presented the building and the city-owned property - now the corner of Second and Durbin Streets - to Natrona County. The County assumed responsibility for the library on November 3, 1909 and the white-domed Carnegie Library opened to the public on May 20, 1910. About 300 people attended the opening reception and dance.
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When it opened, the Natrona County Public Library had a collection of 850 books to serve the county's population of 2,700 people. By 1920 the population was 14,600 and the library collection had grown to 14,000 books.
In 1925 an addition to the back of the original Carnegie building provided a Durbin Street entrance and more than doubled the library's capacity. In 1929, the library was designated a Selective Depository for government documents in the Federal Depository Library Program.
In August 1950, a $260,000 library expansion bond was passed and in January 1954, a 7,500 square-foot addition to the east was opened. The Library's nine employees circulated 138,300 books to 5,700 borrowers. Casper's population was then 23,700.
In 1956, the first bookmobile began operation in a converted grocery delivery truck. In 1967, Natrona County's population was 56,000, library cards numbered 18,300, circulation hit 247,600 and the library held 67,800 books and 200 magazines. The Friends of the Library was also established in 1967. Their first annual used book sale was held in 1972, from which the Friends have raised a cumulative $1,000,000 over the years.
In 1967, a bond issue was proposed to purchase additional land, raze the original Carnegie building and the neighboring American Legion building, purchase a bookmobile (a converted school bus), and construct a new Midwest-Edgerton Branch Library. The bond failed by 349 votes, but backers led by board member Jim Crawford persevered. In August of 1969, a $1 million bond passed. The original Carnegie and the 1925 addition were demolished and replaced by a new structure. The resulting west wing of the main library was dedicated in 1972 with a weeklong celebration. The Friends of the Library, along with area business people and residents, commissioned the 16-foot bronze sculpture of Prometheus to be set in front of the curving window wall in the outdoor plaza. Prometheus is sited close to where the Carnegie building's front doors once faced Second Street. The Crawford Room is named after long time Library Board member Jim Crawford (1946-1957 & 1965-1971).
Under head librarian Ken Dowlin, the first venture in the U.S. between a public library and a cable television company went into operation. In 1971, a converted bus christened the "Reading Roustabout" replaced the grocery truck becoming the library's second bookmobile. In 1981, a replacement bookmobile was purchased with $50,000 of One-Cent Optional Sales Tax dollars.
The Natrona County Public Library Foundation was incorporated in 1972 to aid the library in securing money for library capital improvements and for financial support of the general library program. It is a public foundation and exempt from Federal income tax under IRS Code 501(c) (3). It's Articles of Incorporation were modified in 2000 to create an independent board.
In 1993, NCPL became the nation's 75th Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) and housed this research collection until 2001. In September 1995, the current Children's Library, funded primarily by optional one-cent sales tax money, was opened.
The present facility consists of two wings, the east wing that opened in 1954 as an addition to the Carnegie building, and the main wing, built in 1972, replacing the Carnegie Library entirely. Total area is roughly ---30,000 sf. A renovation of public spaces was completed in 1998.
In 2004, the library took delivery of a new bookmobile and expanded mobile service. During that same year the library created a Teen Zone and Tech Center. The library circulated 701,819 items during FY 10-11 to 44,547 card holders.
The first record of a library in northern Natrona County was the Midwest Traveling Library established by the Midwest Oil Company in 1921. Books were packed in cases, each holding 50 books. In 1930, a free library for all residents was established on the second floor of the Midwest Refining Company clubhouse in Midwest. The library held 1,500 books and 29 magazines and was run by the Natrona County Public Library system. The current Edgerton Library was built in 1971. In 1978, the library board named the facility the Mark J. Davis Jr. Memorial Branch Library to honor Mark Davis who had been an active member of the library board until his death. Davis was a member of the Davis ranching family and a grandson of "Hardwinter" Davis of western lore.
The Mills Library, located next to the Town Hall began operations in June of 1987. The facility, built in 1982, had originally been used as a carpenter's shop and police office. Volunteers converted the building and operated it as an independent Mills community library for over a decade. A Friends of the Library group was formed in 1989. In 1996, they provided an addition, increasing the building's size to 1,200 sf. In 1998, the library became a branch of the Natrona County Public Library System. In 2003, the library was named the Bob Goff Memorial Library by the Mills Town Council. In 2005, the Town of Mills expanded and modernized the facility using Natrona County Recreation District funds.
Original Wyoming State Flag
Learn more about the original Wyoming State flag on display in the Library.