|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
Coming Soon: The History of Natrona County Public Library
By Hilery Walker, Public Relations Coordinator
July 12 , 2006
As with any business, Natrona County Public Library is constantly looking toward the future. To compete in the information-rich world in which we live, libraries have to anticipate trends, explore new technologies, and find innovative ways to improve current services. However, with all of this focus on the future, it is also important that we not forget the past. In 2010, Natrona County Public Library will celebrate 100 years of service and in preparation for this milestone, author and historian Walter Jones will be writing a history of NCPL.
A Natrona County High School and Casper College graduate, Walter Jones’s connection with Casper history reaches back several decades. Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wyoming and went on earn a Master of Library Science from Brigham Young University and a Master of Arts in history from the University of Utah. He also worked as a reference librarian at NCPL from 1973 through 1976.
While he has been published numerous times, Jones is perhaps best known in the Casper area for his book “History of the Sand Bar,” which delves in the colorful history of Casper’s most notorious part of town. He has also recently published another book, “Derricks and Determination: Oil Exploration in a Portion of Southwestern Wyoming,” which examines the very beginning of oilfield history in Uinta County. Copies of both books are available for checkout at NCPL.
While NCPL’s history might not be as wild and dangerous as that of the Sandbar or Wyoming’s early oilfields, it is equally fascinating. NCPL owes its existence to a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. The agreement with Carnegie stipulated that Casper provide a site for the building and a $1,000 annual appropriation to maintain the facility. Officials used this seed money to construct the shell of the building, but then found it necessary to request more money from Carnegie to complete the project. Carnegie reluctantly agreed to add another $3,000 to his original gift, though required that Casper increase the Library’s yearly maintenance amount as well. While Casper officials accepted this requirement, they found it impossible to meet the obligation, and Natrona County took on responsibility for running the Library. In an email recounting this story, Jones notes that “these initial events show how shrewd and determined Casperites were in their efforts to secure a public library, and how generous and sincere Carnegie was in supporting such endeavors.” On May 21, 1910, Natrona County Public Library opened its doors to the public.
This is just the beginning of the story. To make this history a true success, we need your help! Do you remember the graceful cupola of old Carnegie building? Perhaps you took part in the bookworm program, Natrona County’s first summer reading program? Maybe you remember a trip to the first bookmobile in 1956? If you would like to share your memories of Natrona County Public Library, please contact Hilery Walker at 237-4935 ext. 128. As NCPL prepares for another 100 years of service, we want to say thank you for your support during the past 100 years as well.
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