Washakie County Library grand opening Saturday
December 9, 2021
WORLAND – Nearly five months after opening, the Washakie County Library will be hosting their official grand opening from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday.
The open house will start with a Welcome from library director Karen Funk at 11 a.m. and a ribbon cutting Speakers include John Davis, Jamie Markus and Mike Healy.
The Worland library was first founded in 1909, only three years after the town had settled on the other side of the train tracks. The “library” had first started as a collection of books and magazines kept in the Baptist Church that was completed with a reading room open to the entire community.
According to an earlier interview with Friend of the Library (FOL) Laura McDonald, in the beginning, the library had little money to buy anything with and most books were donated. People in town would donate whatever they had. In the earlier years, they would charge 5 cents to check things out in order to use those funds to buy new books.
In order to keep the library going, the community held many fundraisers. They did a series of basketball games, a spelling match, a box supper auction and a home talent minstrel show. According to McDonald, in the beginning it was just basketball games and the young unmarried women would bring a boxed dinner to the basketball games and they would auction them off to have dinner.
When the Worland Woman’s Club was formed in 1914, they made the library their top priority. They would have musical entertainment, someone would sing and play the piano or they would do a poetry reading. The club jumped headfirst into their first project, moving the library to C.F. Robertson’s Worland Land and Lot Building so that they could work on expansion in 1914. From there, they were able to raise the money and grow their book collection. In 1919 they relocated again, this time to the Veile Furniture Building, then soon after to the Pulliam building.
In 1937, the new courthouse was completed at the corner of 10th Street and Big Horn Avenue and the library made yet another move. According to McDonald, they were given two rooms upstairs in the new courthouse and then moved downstairs.
The biggest step for the library was becoming an official county library. In late 1939, the Woman’s Club requested that the county establish and finance the Washakie County Library. At that time, Washakie and Sublette counties were the only two counties in Wyoming with no county library.
In 1940, the Washakie County Library officially opened and a librarian was appointed and a library board formed.
In 1963, the Washakie County Library finally made its move to the Coburn Avenue facility, where it resided up until this summer. But before that building held books, it was the birthplace of many Worland citizens; a hospital.
According to McDonald, the biggest renovation to the Coburn Avenue building was the renovation in 1974. At that time, the outside of the building was refaced with the brick you see today, as well as new carpeting and a reconfiguration of the inside space.
Discussion of the newest move started in 2019, when the county commissioners voted to purchase the ACE Hardware Building and renovate it, uprooting the library once again.