Library Corner: 25 years as Grand County Library District
Grand County Library District
It is an unbelievable: 25 years since Grand County Library District was formed.
In 1994, Theresa Nuzum led the Committee to Protect the Library in a campaign to convince voters the benefits of a completely separate fund, a special tax district to support the libraries of Grand County. The initiative was approved, and in January 1995, the Grand County Library District came into being with a 2.41 mil levy.
Libraries in Grand County grew up organically. As few people could afford to purchase all the books they needed, money and resources were pooled into central collections. These were run by individual clubs for many years before incorporating into a County Library. The libraries were housed wherever space could be found – in personal homes, tucked into small corners, under stairways, and in tiny rooms in government buildings. They relocated frequently to accommodate changing needs and growing collections.
Frequent relocation was certainly the case for the Hot Sulphur Springs Library. It was established in 1932 by the Hot Sulphur Springs Women’s Club. Books came from the Denver Public Library, the President of the Colorado Federation of Women’s Clubs, and local residents. The cost of renting books was an affordable 50 cents for six months. Moving from the homes of club members, the Hot Sulphur library re-located many times and eventually settled into the current building in 1990.
The Granby and Grand Lake libraries were also started by women’s clubs. In 1933, Grand Lake’s first library was on a bookshelf in the home of Mrs. Goldie Hawkins. Books were exchanged every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In the following years, the library shifted with a growing collection, from a small upstairs room in the Firehouse, to the log building just off the town square, and finally into its current location in 2006.
The Granby Library was housed in the lower level of the Granby Town Hall, when Marvin Heemeyer embarked on his 2004 bulldozer rampage. The library and much of its collection were collateral damage during his attack. Two years later, the Granby Library was rebuilt, and the doors opened in its current location on Zero Street.
The first recorded library in the Fraser Valley was a book cupboard started by Punk Murphy in the old Fraser Mercantile building during the 1950s. By the mid-1970s, it was operating out of the building that currently houses Grand County EMS. Many people will remember attending story times with then-librarian Mary Anne Wilcox in this small building on Eisenhower Drive.
Finally, the Kremmling library. Mention was made in the Grand Gazette of a Kremmling library in the 1940s. By 1967, Vi Johnson and Virginia Taussig had established a library in the elementary school basement. Many Kremmling residents also traveled to Hot Sulphur Springs to check out books.
Twenty-five years after the vote, Grand County libraries still have much to celebrate. GCLD successfully negotiated the shift from printed to digital information which was gloomily believed to foretell the end of libraries across the country. Instead, we have learned that reading is not going out of style in Grand County and that the overall checkout of materials in the district has increased. People are not only taking home more physical copies of books but also downloading eBooks, e-Audiobooks and movies through OverDrive, Libby and Kanopy.
But, Grand County libraries are much more than book repositories. Many of the people who visit don’t borrow books or even DVDs. For them, the library is a warm sanctuary, a place to sit quietly, read a book or magazine and be welcomed with respect. For others, it is a place of bustling activity, a community hub to connect with your neighbors, and a door to boundless opportunities.
Just as in the 1930s, the energy that keeps our libraries thriving does not just come from property tax dollars. It has much to do with the work, energy and vision of the people in our community. They step up and volunteer their time to serve as trustees on library boards and directors on the Friends and Library Foundation boards. They are willing to help out with library fundraisers or to shelve books. Many times they are there in an emergency or in a time of special need willing to pitch in and form impromptu work teams.
This twenty-fifth year of the district offers us a time to reflect on what has worked in the past and to plan for its future. As part of this celebration, staff at GCLD would love to hear from you. We invite you to visit our branches, explore online resources at gcld.org, and talk to your friends and family about how the library has impacted the quality of your lives. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and recollections.
Stephanie Ralph is the executive director of the Grand County Library District.
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