|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
100 Years By the Books
By Brenda Thomson, Community Relations Coordinator
March 24, 2010
The Natrona County Public Library opened May 20, 1910 with a reception and refreshments from 8:30-9:30 p.m., followed by a dance that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. At the time, Casper was a growing town of 2,700 people who saw their new library not only as a place to borrow books, but also as a community center.
The books helped citizens learn new things, broadened the scope of their experiences, and opened a window to the rest of the world, to which this frontier town was only distantly connected. Community space allowed people to meet for business and pleasure, discuss important topics, and engage in the civic issues of the day.
Over the years the library grew: its physical structure was expanded; its collection of books increased; and its involvement with the community formalized through partnerships with schools, establishment of outreach stations, library branches, and bookmobile service to outlying areas.
In the early 1960s new formats of information became important to citizens, and librarians made the stretch to accommodate more than books in their space and services. Over the years new formats included microfilm, music records, programs broadcast via Cable television, computers connecting to statewide resources, audio books on cassette and CD, movies and documentaries, Internet access, online resources, and instruction in computer software programs and digital technologies.
NCPL’s first librarians might be shocked by how the library has changed over the years in response to community needs. Though books are still a key feature of how the library offers educational opportunities, the librarian’s role has changed to accommodate new forms of information. Librarians continue to serve as guides to the information people need to live, learn, and work in our community, but in a much more complex world (technologically at least) than in 1910.
Through these changes the library has continued to be both an educational resource for county citizens and a place for enlightening community experiences. These include classes on various topics, early childhood literacy and education, civic engagement, discussion of ideas and opportunities to meet and interact with other community members.
Now, as in 1910, the library is a vital community asset, contributing to the lives of individuals as well as to the community’s economic vitality and quality of life. One hundred years is indeed a milestone worth celebrating, and citizens will have many opportunities to join in.
Now through May 15, residents can participate in the “Read 100!” challenge by reading either 100 chapters or books, alone, or with a group, and earn a centennial-edition library card and entry into a grand-prize drawing.
The month of May will feature a variety of events including children’s celebrations and visits from favorite authors C.J. Box, Craig Johnson, and John Erickson, creator of “Hank the Cowdog.” A book about the library’s history, written by Casper native and historian Walter Jones, will be released May 1, and a final celebration will be held on the anniversary date, May 20.
Find more information at any library branch, or by calling 577-READ. The tech-savvy can keep up to date through Facebook (Natrona County Public Library), Twitter (NatronaLibrary) or the library’s website, www.natronacountylibrary.org. Join us in honoring the past 100 years of service. We look forward to another 100 years of serving our community!
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