|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
Honoring the Past, Creating the Future
By Bill Nelson, Library Director
May 19 , 2010
May, 1910 -- A century ago B. B. Brooks was Wyoming’s governor, Natrona County School District graduated five students in its first high school class and bands of sheep were trailed down Center Street.
Man was still learning to fly and King George V was assuming the throne of the British Empire. Jacques Cousteau was born in Gironde, France, the keel of the RMS Titanic was being laid in a Belfast shipyard and the German General Staff was refining its Schlieffen Plan.
On May 20th in Casper, citizens were celebrating with Mayor Wilson S. Kimball the opening of a brand new library. Kimball had written to Andrew Carnegie in 1905 requesting his support to help Casper establish a library.
Why did Kimball and other community leaders want a public library? They foresaw unique benefits that only a public library could provide. Interestingly the essential functions of the 1910 library are still strong characteristics of NCPL to this day.
Kimball and other local leaders saw several unique functions that could be accomplished by a public library, including:
-- Connecting citizens with new perspectives; librarians select and provide materials representing a spectrum of ideas and information
-- Saving individuals and the community money; by sharing common materials our community currently receives $9.50 in value for every $1 in the NCPL budget
-- Providing no-cost information guides; librarians help citizens answer questions on just about any subject
-- Partnering on all levels of education; the library provides equal access to educational opportunities for people of all ages, needs and backgrounds
-- Encouraging self-paced learning; citizens can engage in self-directed inquiry on a variety of subjects
For the past century, NCPL has helped to develop literacy and learning as community values, and acts as a community leader in providing:
-- Early literacy programs for pre-schoolers
-- Access to literacy materials for youth and adults
-- Free computer training and Internet access for all citizens
Along with other community organizations, NCPL has provided:
-- A place for citizens to congregate for community functions
-- Life-long learning opportunities
-- Access to educational materials from other institutions and localities via inter-library loan.
With the exception of the Internet, Mayor Kimball likely foresaw the benefits of many of these enduring services. Over the years, 59 trustees, 22 directors and dozens of librarians have kept public library services alive and well in Natrona County. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, your public library is as vibrant as at any time in its rich history.
The world has changed dramatically over the past 100 years; the materials and services of your public library have likewise changed. However, the fundamental benefits of a public library for our community have changed very little.
Look over the lists above and compare how 2010’s functions might differ from 1910. I think you’ll find that the enduring values Mayor Kimball sought when building the first library remain important for our community today.
All citizens are invited to celebrate a century of library service tomorrow, May 20, exactly 100 years after NCPL first opened its doors. The celebration begins with an Edible Book Fest at 3 p.m. culminating in a final celebration at 6:30 p.m. As in 1910, the celebration will offer refreshments and an opportunity to congregate together as a community, celebrating how NCPL improves all of our lives.
Back to Table of Contents