ELKO – The Elko County Library is turning 100 years old. After the ups and downs of so many years, this public institution continues to grow and change with the times.
“January 31 is the day of our actual birthday,” said Elko County Library Director Kassie Antonucci.
The official funding of the library began in 1922.
“We were put into the second story of the (former) Elko High School,” Antonucci said. “In 1942 the library burned down.”
“Elko’s most outstanding landmark and the center of much of the social and educational life of the community for nearly half a century, was badly damaged today when fire broke out in the attic of the Legion-Homemakers Hall, burning the roof of the old structure and gutting the upper floor where the county library, housing some $15,000 worth of books, was located,” reads a story from the Elko Independent.
Eight thousand books were lost.
According to Antonucci, the library still has some of the old furniture from the original location with some scorch marks on it. They are slowly restoring it.
People are also reading…
“After it burned, they tore down the second floor and rebuilt the first floor,” Antonucci said.
The library was located at 569 Court St., currently the Public Defenders Office.
In 1974 the library was moved to its current building. Construction cost $563,619. It was built to house 50,000 items.
In the 1987, the building was enlarged to add on the children’s library.
“Before we were officially founded, there were different versions of us,” Antonucci said. “The earliest version was in 1910 when we were in the Commercial.”
“The new Elko Public Library has been installed in a corner of the lobby of the Commercial Hotel,” reads a story from the Elko Daily Free Press. “Although its use is restricted to hotel guests and the businessmen who contributed to it, it is a start in the right direction.”
In 1919 a group of female members of the 20th Century Club started collecting and cataloguing donated books which then became the county library, according to the September 1946 issue of “Nevada Libraries.” It was first housed in the law library of the Elko County Courthouse. The ladies who facilitated its origin took turns acting as librarian. In 1926 the library was moved to the high school, also known as the American Legion Hall. Mrs. Rae E. Caine was the official librarian, according to notes the library has on record.
The library was robbed twice during this time, the second robbery resulting in damage to many books.
Later, branches were added to outlying communities, including Wells, Eureka, Carlin, Crescent Valley, West Wendover, Tuscarora and Jackpot.
Tuscarora’s library is in the U.S. Post Office and the Jackpot Branch is located at the high school. According to Antonucci, the high school uses it in the day and at night it becomes public.
“Our mission statement, as it stands today, is to be a recreational, cultural and educational community hub that is open to everyone. We try to have resources everyone can use.”
With the centennial, Antonucci is planning a number of new things.
“We are getting ready to rebrand. Our official name is Elko Lander and Eureka County Library System, which is a mouthful.”
Lander County is no longer with the system, having recently left.
“They (Elko County Library system) weren’t able to offer us what we wanted to do, have some changes and new programming, things like that,” said Lander County Commissioner Kathleen Ancho. “We also wanted to have it ‘our library,’ and, thankfully, we are able to afford that kind of thing with net proceeds (mine tax collections). I know it scared a lot of people thinking we were just going to shut down the library. That was never on the table.”
“The library board felt that since Lander County decided to not participate in the Elko County Library [system], we felt the need to be rebranded,” said Elko County Commissioner Cliff Eklund. “We are coming up on 100 years and I think it is a great way to celebrate.”
Eklund was not sure of the exact budget for the project.
“We are in the process of having meetings now to see how we are going to proceed,” he said.
“We sent out requests for proposals,” Antonucci said. “We got bids from across the country. We ended up going with a company out of Colorado that has experience rebranding libraries. They have rebranded two award-winning libraries.”
The library has already put out a public survey for suggestions on the rebranding.
The Elko building may also get fresh paint and an updated look. The reference area will be transformed to include more technology, including new computers.
“We were able to get 20 brand new computers,” Antonucci said.
The library will also be doing at least one new thing a month, including family events. In January they will have a scavenger hunt, crafts and treats at the different branches.
“We are going to create our own summer reading program around Elko and the library and just have fun,” Antonucci said.
“We want to remodel and get new seating. We want to arrange all of our libraries to be more inviting places.”
“I am hoping this program affects all libraries in Elko and Eureka County,” said Eklund, who lives in Carlin. “This library in Carlin has been so important to the community. We have a very active Friends of the Library in Carlin that work to keep it up-to-date. They are all volunteers and spend a lot of time.”
“Sometime after April we will do our grand reopening, but everyone’s branches will still be their branch,” Antonucci said.
The Elko library has Virtual Reality equipment, but they have not been able to use it much because of limited space.
“By rearranging the space, I am hoping we can create a new space where the VR stuff is there,” she said.
“VOX Books” (audio book readers) are also a new thing the library will offer. These help children learn to read.
“It helps English learners,” Antonucci said.
Bilingual VOX books will be available in Spanish and Chinese.