Category Archives: Wyoming Library News

Elk Mountain Residents Are Library Heroes

Carbon County Library System Board Chair Joyce Menke celebrates after cutting the ribbon at the new Elk Mountain Public Library. Looking on is Town Mayor Morgan Irene. Reed Brannon, who headed up fundraising, is in the background.

The Wyoming Library Association’s 2017 Hero/Heroine Award was given to a group of dedicated Elk Mountain residents who made it possible for the community’s library to move into a new, expanded location. The award was presented at Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Elk Mountain Library, a branch of the Carbon County Library System, was about to lose their building. The Town of Elk Mountain, its residents, the Peter Thieriot family, the Double 8 Ranch, the Carol McMurry Library Endowment, and the Walter Scott Foundation, which consists of Suzanne Walter, the Dixon Family, Amy L. Scott, David Scott, and the Parker Family, contributed $232,197.00 to build a new one — bigger and brighter with updated technology and a children’s room. Mayor Morgan Irene assisted with permits and fundraising and local resident Reed Brannon headed up the fundraising committee.

You can read more about the features of the new library on Friday’s blog post.

“If not for the efforts of all of these people we could very well have lost our library,” branch manager Tammy Page wrote in her nomination letter. “Our library has benefited by gaining a great new place that will continue to be an integral part of our little community. So many people pulled together in so many ways. … The results of this will be so huge for our little community. We will have double our current space, as well as a beautiful building for future generations to come and enjoy. Most of all we did not lose our little library and for that I will be forever grateful to all of these wonderful people.”

The Hero/Heroine Award recognizes an outstanding person or group whose hard work has made a difference to a Wyoming library within the last two years. The WLA  Awards/Grants Group considers all those who contributed to the project as Heroes and Heroines.

Elk Mountain Library Branch Manager Tammy Page submitted the award nomination.

Local residents enjoying their new library.

A celebration like this deserves cake. Congratulations to the Elk Mountain community!


Elk Mountain Library on the Move

The Elk Mountain Branch Library will set out the treats and celebrate a ribbon cutting at its new location on Monday, July 17, at 6 p.m. The library, formerly the smallest in the Carbon County Library System, will roughly quadruple its space.

“The space is bigger, brighter, and new” said Jacob Mickelsen, CCLS Director. “We’ve been able to add a children’s room and meeting room, as well as upgrading the technology. It’s a much needed upgrade to a heavily used branch library.”

The new library features all new information technology infrastructure as well as a raised floor, which should simplify further upgrades in the future. The addition of a meeting room is a high point for those living in Elk Mountain, as options for meeting space are severely limited in such a small community.

Elk Mountain Library’s former location

The project began when the Town of Elk Mountain, which owned the property, made other plans for the building where the library was housed. “Fortunately the town really values their library,” said Mickelsen. “A public-private partnership was formed to raise funds for a new facility.” The old town shop right next door turned out to be a perfect fit, and the space was gutted and completely renovated.

Mickelsen said special thanks go to the Town of Elk Mountain’s government, particularly Mayor Morgan Irene, for assisting with permits and fundraising, as well as local resident Reed Brannon for heading up the fundraising committee. Major funders included the Peter Thieriot Family, the Double 8 Ranch, the Carol McMurry Foundation, the Walter Scott Foundation, and the people of Elk Mountain. Over $230,000 was raised for this project, and other donations, particularly from the Elk Mountain Parent/Teachers Organization, have allowed for the library to be outfitted with all new technology and furniture.

“I’m mostly excited to never have to climb up into the old library’s spider-infested attic to fix the heater again,” Mickelsen said, mentioning also his envy of Branch Manager Tammy Page’s new granite-topped circulation desk. “Elk Mountain is an awesome community, and I’m so happy to see all of their hard work pay off.”

Johnson County Celebrates WLA Award

On Friday, July 14, Johnson County Library is celebrating its selection as the Wyoming Library Association’s Outstanding Library for 2017. Katrina Brown, WLA Vice President, will present the award. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the large meeting room at the library in Buffalo, 171 N. Adams. All are invited, and refreshments will be served.

WLA gives this award for a significant special project completed within the last two years. The staff, library board, and the community or people served must all be involved in the work for which recognition is sought.

In Johnson County Library’s case, it was the library’s renovation and expansion, a  $4.79 million project that added 10,000 square feet onto the original 8,500-square-foot building, allowing for dedicated children’s and young adult spaces, a local history room, and a meeting room twice the size of the old one. It was paid for with $3.79 million in specific purpose sales tax revenue and $1 million in county funds.

It was a long journey. The initial needs assessment was done in 2008, paid for with a Carol McMurry Library Endowment grant. In 2014, the Johnson County Commissioners urged the library to go to the voters for a 1% specific purpose tax. Despite the fact that Johnson County voters have historically voted every proposed project of this type down, the library took the brave step of putting it on the ballot. After a vigorous campaign, the library expansion project passed with fewer than 200 votes.

The new building has exceeded every expectation. Perhaps its crowning jewel is the storybook wall mural located at the entrance of the children’s area. Painted by local artist Lisa Norman, it brings in numerous elements of well-loved books and characters. The artist even hid a few things in the work for patrons to find.

The expanded library opened in June of 2016, thanks to the hundreds of people involved in the project’s success: county officials, the library trustees and foundation, Friends of the Library, high school students, and many others. It was truly a community effort.


UW Libraries Lecture Series on World War I

From UW News

University of Wyoming Libraries will host three free programs related to World War I during the fall semester in recognition of the centenary of the historic event.

The programs are part of “World War I and America,” a two-year national initiative of Library of America, presented in partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, other organizations and support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The UW Libraries, in collaboration with local community and campus organizations, such as the Albany County Historical Society, the Laramie Plains Museum, UW’s Army ROTC and the UW History Club, are sponsoring these programs:

  • “But I Just Had to Brace Up and Do My Best: Nurses in World War I,” Monday, September 11 at 2 p.m., Coe Library, Room 506.
  • “Warriors in Khaki: Indian Doughboys in the Great War,” Tuesday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m., Alice Hardie Stevens Center, Laramie Plains Museum.
  • “Home Front in Wyoming,” Monday, October 2 at 7 p.m., Alice Hardie Stevens Center, Laramie Plains Museum.

Learn more about each program on UW News. For more information about the World War I lecture series, call Cynthia Hughes, UW Libraries metadata librarian, at (307) 766-5611 or email

Wyoming Wildlife Migration Exhibit and Program

Mule Deer Migration Project, Western Wyoming Red Desert to Hoback. Photographer – Joe RiisWildlife; Ecologist – Dr. Hall Sawyer.

Photos of the longest-documented mule deer migration in the U.S. are on exhibit during July on the mezzanine at the Sheridan County Fulmer Library. Taken by Joe Riis, a photography fellow for the Wyoming Migration Initiative, the images give an up-close view into the lives of mule deer on the Red Desert to Hoback migration corridor. Viewers can travel along with the deer as they undertake a 150-mile migration north from the hills near Rock Springs to the peaks surrounding the Hoback Basin near Bondurant.

While this migration was known for decades, the full extent was only revealed in 2012. Using camera traps that take a photo when deer pass by an infrared sensor, Riis documented how deer navigate obstacles as they migrate between winter and summer range.

Gregory Nickerson

The Wyoming Migration Initiative would like to bring this exhibit to other libraries. The photos will be on display at the Fulmer Library through the end of July, but will be available for other host sites beginning in August. Contact WMI writer and filmmaker Gregory Nickerson at or 307-766-5491 for details.

At 6 p.m. tonight, July 5,  Nickerson will give an educational program in the Sheridan Fulmer Library Inner Circle focusing on the human connections to wildlife migration throughout history. Also, Wyoming Game and Fish Brucellosis-Habitat Biologist Eric Maichak will give a short presentation about an ongoing local disease study that is also yielding information about movement of elk in the Bighorn Mountains. The photo exhibit runs through the end of July.

Wyoming’s Horseback Librarian Report to ALA

Mabel Wilkinson on Joker

Just over a century ago, the American Library Association convened its 38th Annual Meeting in Asbury Park, New Jersey, from June 26 to July 1, 1916. In the published proceedings was a report from one Mabel Wilkinson, Park County Librarian, telling of her adventures when she was hard at work extending library services to the smallest places in Platte County. You can read the full account in Hathi Trust.

Over two weeks and 400 miles, Mabel “…visited each post-office, town, village, and hamlet in the county on this trip.” It was a two-week, 400-mile trip on horseback to places that included Lakeview, Bordeaux, Slater, Chugwater, Hartville, Sunrise, and Glendo. Only one place — Hartville Junction (also known just as Junction) — turned down a library. (You can read more about all these locales in Wyoming Places.)

After trying out seven other saddle horses, she chose “Joker” for the trip, whose former owner, “would not guarantee one thing about him, excepting that he had never done a mean thing in his life, that he was not ‘lady-broke,’ and was not overly gentle!”

Perhaps her most famous quote was not actually said by her, but was one she passed along in her report:

Not long ago I was greatly surprised as well as amused when a library director in the northern part of Wyoming, upon requesting a library organizer for her county, required: ‘A young woman who is not only a college graduate with library school training and experience but in addition must be able to get along with Western people, ride and drive, as well as pack a horse, follow a trail, shoot straight, run an automobile, and be able to rough it whenever necessary.’ Now, it has been proved that those qualifications all come as part of the business, as well as the fun of organizing in Wyoming.

Mabel went on to become the County Librarian for Park County. (You can find mentions of her in Wyoming Newspapers.) Her journey is a wonderful glimpse into both the history of Wyoming and the history of libraries in this state.


Troyanek New Albany County Library Director

Ruth Troyanek

Ruth Troyanek started on one path in life, then found her heart called her to librarianship. Now, she is the new Director of the Albany County Public Library.

“I was encouraged by my parents to become a scientist or doctor,” she said. “I earned a biology degree at Iowa State University in Ames. During college, I worked in a lab and realized I wanted a job working more closely with people.”

She earned a Master of Library Science degree at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, taking courses in strategic management, public libraries, collection management, and cataloging.

Troyanek brings 14 years of library experience to the position, the last six as the Youth Services Librarian at ACPL. After earning her MLS, she worked part-time and volunteered at several libraries before moving to Laramie and landing an internship in the children’s department at the county library.

Her internship eventually turned into a paid position. Later, she transitioned into additional part time positions as the Older Adult Services librarian and the Young Adult Librarian. She loved getting to know the library’s homebound patrons during the five years she delivered books. In YA, she started with just a few shelves of books and built thriving, grant-funded teen services with a growing collection, including comics and manga, and a weekly teen program, YAK. She left Albany County Library briefly for the birth of her son before returning to her most recent position as Youth Services Librarian.

Troyanek is involved with the wider library community. She’s given several well-attended talks at Wyoming Library Association conferences, and has made it a point to attend national conferences. When she travels, she visits libraries to meet other librarians and learn new ideas.

Troyanek likes to nurture strong relationships with librarians throughout the community, particularly in schools. Some of her goals as director are to build trust among the staff and community, increase staff training, and evaluate staffing needs and workloads in each department.

“This is a very hopeful time for ACPL’s patrons, supporters, and staff,” she said. “Recently, we opened the High Plains Seed Library, and we’ve made great progress with our re-labeling project to make locating books easier for patrons. We plan to overhaul our web site and acquire a mobile hot spot so we can do library card sign-ups and book checkouts outside of our buildings. Looking forward, we plan to set and meet larger goals for our community.”

Summer Reading Happenings at Washakie County

Summer reading is in full swing around the state. Shelly Nitchman at Washakie County Library shared these facts and photos about programs going on in Worland.

Have some great highlights from your summer reading programs? We’d like to celebrate and share them with the library community. Contact Susan Mark, Wyoming State Library Publications Specialist, at

Building a pallet garden: These were “Vertical Gardening.” The library used one-liter pop bottles, opened the sides and stapled them to pallets while the slats were vertical. The kids put their names on their bottle, put in the dirt and seeds. Library staff have watered them daily and on June 29, the kids can take their “planter” off the pallet and take them home.

Building a suspension bridge: The library had a “Building Bridges” day. Kids divided into two groups. First, they made a regular bridge from three-foot piece of heavy cardboard placed between two chairs and piled on about 10 books before the bridge collapsed. Then, they added ropes and made them into suspension bridges to see how much more they could hold. The suspension bridges collapsed with between 35-40 books.

Volunteer Lyle Spence and the yo-yo crew: The “Yo-Yo Demo” featured local resident Lyle Spence. He explained how yo-yos work, demonstrated several tricks, and gave yo-yos he and his wife donated to all the kids present. Andrew McIntosh, an 11-year-old patron going into sixth grade did several other tricks and talked about how he learned to be a yo-yo person.

Musical parade around the library: The “Making Music” day started with Dan Frederick from Hedge Music showing and demonstrating several common instruments. Then participants made musical instruments from recycled items — drums, harmonicas, kazoos, and guitars.  The kids used their instruments to have a parade from the back of the library to the front and to the back again.

Natrona County a NASA@ My Library Partner

Natrona County Library is one of 75 U.S. public libraries selected to receive resources, training and support through NASA@ My Library, a STEM education initiative that will increase and enhance STEM learning opportunities for library patrons throughout the nation, including geographic areas and populations currently underserved in STEM education. The libraries were selected through a competitive application process from a pool of more than 500 applicants.

Natrona County Library provided us this article from their newsletter on this exciting project:

By Jerry Jones
Youth Services Manager, Natrona County Library

The 2017 Eclipse is one example of how we strive to engage our community in unique ways. We have hosted educational programs on what happens during an eclipse, held crafty afternoons intended to stir up interest, and even planned our summer reading program around this once-in-a-lifetime event. And now, as one of 75 libraries nationwide selected to be a part of NASA@ My Library (a national earth and space science initiative that connects NASA, public libraries and their communities), we’ll continue to build on the excitement of being on that path of totality and to focus more of our programming on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) over the next 18 months.

The purpose of NASA@ My Library is to increase and enhance STEM learning opportunities for library patrons throughout the nation, particularly geographic areas and populations currently underserved in STEM education. We will soon receive two STEM Facilitation Kits that include tools and handson activities that emphasize subjects like Sun-Earth-Moon connections and expanding your senses. A telescope, pair of binoculars, microscope, green screen backdrop, infrared thermometer as well as robotics and coding toys and solar viewing glasses are a few of the items expected to be included.

Partners are also encouraged to collaborate with subject matter experts from NASA-related organizations such as their Solar System Ambassador Program and Science-Technology Activities and Resources Library Education Network—the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning that provides interactive STEM exhibits, programming, and training to public libraries. We’re excited to be hosting two such programs on August 14, featuring astronomer Kevin Manning, a former NASA consultant. The Universe at your Fingertips will take place at our Tween Monday program at 2 p.m. and The Universe and An All American Total Solar Eclipse for adults and families will start at 7 p.m.

The Eclipse has definitely generated a heightened interest in space and science here in our community, and we are looking forward to this opportunity that we have been given to reach for the stars and take it to the next level.

The NASA@ My Library project is led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Partners include the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, Pacific Science Center, Cornerstones of Science, and Education Development Center. NASA@ My Library is made possible through the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate as part of its STEM Activation program.

Escape From Lincoln County Library

The room, set up and ready to go…

… and after the mad scramble to escape.

There are worse fates than being trapped at your local public library, especially when puzzles and games are involved.

Lincoln County Library created an escape room program where patrons were “locked” in and had to solve puzzles to get out. Inspired by a Pinterest post, Kellie Humphries, Youth Services Librarian for Lincoln County Library System, and Kera Wakefield Youth Services Aide at Kemmerer Branch Library, created the room and stocked it with challenging activities.

Patrons plotting their escape.

“Escape rooms are a ton of fun,” Humphries said. “There’s usually a simple story that explains why you are in the room and what you are accomplishing. If you like puzzles, logic games, and mystery books, you’d enjoy an escape room.”

The two librarians started the initial planning about this time last year and worked on it during breaks in their program schedule. They had some “make your own” puzzles left over from a summer reading program that became the main parts of their game.

“That sparked the idea that our room would be the library caretaker’s live-in apartment, and it would belong to our great uncle,” Humphries said. “He would send us there to retrieve a blue flash drive for him and bring it to the Kemmerer Airport with in the hour. But we’re locked in!”

The library got a good turnout for their first attempt at this type of program. During the week it ran, 36 kids (mostly teens) and 32 adults participated in 10 groups; eight of those groups completed the room.

Nine puzzles were each hidden in different places. Some were inside locked boxes with hidden keys and combinations to be figured out from clues around the room. A cryptex (like in The DaVinci Code)  required a five-letter letter word to unlock.  Even artwork on the walls was part of the game. Although they did need a few “no touch” signs for items like the television that they didn’t want participants tearing down looking for clues. The library used Facebook to offer hints, even creating an account for the fictional uncle.

Patrons loved it, and all of them said they’d do it again. One posted on Facebook, “That was such a fun thing!” Another, Sheri Paulson, said, “The lock in was a blast! I would do it again. My big kids enjoyed it and I believe the younger kids with our group did, too.”

Humphries suggested that libraries who want to do an escape room get combination locks that can be reprogrammed so that they can be used in another escape room. It helps to find a volunteer to donate wood and build boxes. Having a story for the room helps in putting it together and deciding on what types of puzzles to include. She said next time she’d like to have a webcam in the room to see how they were doing.

Total cost for the room was $175, and most items can be reused the next time they run the program. “Kera and I had a blast planning and putting it together,” Humphries said. “We’re already planning the next one.”