Category Archives: Wyoming Library News

WSL visit to the Wyoming Girls School

(L to R) Thomas Ivie, Dixie Cooper, and Chauntel Ring in the WGS library

Thomas Ivie and Brian Greene, of the WSL Library Development Office, recently had the opportunity to visit the Wyoming Girls’ School in Sheridan. They met with Chauntel Ring who runs the school library and Principal Dixie Cooper. They gave Thomas and Brian a tour of the library and classrooms as well as discussed some of their educational programs and library needs.

According to the Wyoming Department of Family Services, the Wyoming Girls’ School is a therapeutic and educational facility for the treatment of court-ordered delinquent girls ages 12-21 years. Staff members provide gender-specific support services focusing on mental health and substance abuse treatment, educational and life skills development. The program teaches youth to take personal accountability for their actions and develop socially responsible values in preparation for a successful transition back to their family and community.

“It is nice to be able to see what their library space and collection look like and to put faces to the names,” said Thomas. The Wyoming Girls’ School is one of thirteen state institutions that the WSL consults with and provides funds for library materials through an annual stipend from Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding.

The Girls’ School library offers a welcoming environment.

Wyoming books are on display.

Students can try their hand at quilting in the makerspace.

Hiking the Camino de Santiago

On the trail on the Camino de Santiago

Thousands of travelers, from Medieval pilgrims to modern-day seekers, have walked the Camino de Santiago. On Thursday, August 31, Natrona County Library is hosting two who made the journey — former library director Bill Nelson and his wife Beth — for a special program where they’ll share their amazing experience. The program will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Crawford Room.

The Camino is a historical path leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. It is believed that the bones of St. James the Great, one of the 12 Apostles, lie under its altar. According to Bill, St. James spread the Gospel in the Iberian peninsula before returning to Jerusalem where he was martyred. His body was returned to Spain and rediscovered about the year 800.

The Nelsons walked its most popular route, the Camino Frances, in 2014 and 2016. “We loved our experience the first time so much that we swore to each other we’d do it again,” Beth said. They could only do part of it in 2014, as Bill was still working and could only spare two weeks. In 2016, over 34 days, they walked the full 480 miles from France, up over the Pyrenees and across Spain to the cathedral.

Beth Nelson

“It was just magical,” Beth said. “It was a time warp — a time out from life the way we usually live it. Everything we needed was on our backs.” Not only, they never knew where they’d eat or sleep when they set out each day.

“We had no idea some days where we’d stop for the night, but we always found a place,” Bill said. “That’s the beauty, because you just kind of roll with the punches, and you just live life. You’re just living, you don’t have everything planned.”

People still walk the Camino as a spiritual pilgrimage, but it can also be a cultural or international experience. It was physically demanding as well. Beth said their training on Casper Mountain made it doable on the first, toughest day when they hiked 20 miles in the Pyrenees, up 4,500 feet and down 2,500, over an 8-hour period. On that day, and those that followed, they were treated to stunning scenery — first mountainous, then flat plains, then rolling hills, as the trail wended its way through farmland and cities.

“Families” of travelers merge, split, and meet again along the trail. “You meet people from all over the world,” Bill said. “You might meet someone from Bolivia on Tuesday, have a coffee with them, and separate for whatever reason. Three days later you run into them again, and it’s like old friends. ‘Buen Camino’ is the saying — have a good walk.”

Among the fellow travelers they met were a German engineer and a South Korean woman who taught mathematics for the gifted. An 80-year-old retired lawyer from Britain who did mountain climbing outpaced them all.

“It’s kind of like a traveling community,” Beth said, “a city that’s always moving.”

For the Nelsons, the Camino was a transformative experience. “You learn that life is really simple, and you really don’t need much to be extraordinarily happy,” Bill said. “Being with other people, sharing it with others is remarkable. By day 30, you have a whole different outlook on life”

Wyoming Libraries on Eclipse Day

Excitement all over the state yesterday! Here are a few glimpses of library happenings during the solar eclipse we found on social media


Kitchen colander mini-crescents at Big Horn County Library. See more.

What a great day for Wyoming libraries! Tons of hard work and effort went into the programs and events that made it a special day for many Wyomingites and visitors.

Eclipse: What to Do, What to Expect

(Click to download PDF)

The solar eclipse is nearly upon us. On Monday, August 21, libraries across Wyoming will celebrate this celestial event with patrons and visitors.

The Wyoming State Library has a handy, ready-to-print flyer on the eclipse for your use. You can also check out our Wyoming and the Solar Eclipse 2017 for handy links and a webinar recording.

We spotted these handy things to know on the Laramie County Library System blog in a post by Jennifer Rife, Design and Humanities Coordinator at LCLS. She has graciously allowed us to share them:

*Most* of What You Need To Know for the August 21 Wyoming Eclipse

Are you ready for the Great American Eclipse of 2017?

Here at the library we’ve been preparing for months, and we’re ready! Being a library, we are a source for finding accurate and reputable information. Our staff has fielded lots of questions about the eclipse, and we’re hoping to give you answers and sources to some of the most common inquiries. Here’s some information to get you started, plus links to reliable sources help you find more.


  • As the moon blocks the sun, the temperature will drop! (Think of what happens when the sun goes down of an evening)
  • Shadow bands (fluctuations in light) may appear, and small eclipse images may show on the ground under tree leaves (the leaves function as a sort of pinhole viewer).
  • NASA has a wonderful page for learning all you want to know about what to expect!
  • Animals don’t tend to act that differently during partial eclipses like what we’ll see in Laramie County, but there are reports that under the path of totality when it gets really dark they want to go to bed. For example, farm animals may head toward the barn, thinking it is night.


  • View the eclipse through ISO 12312-2 standard certified eclipse glasses, #14 welder’s glass, or ISO certified filters on binoculars or telescopes.
    • The ISO certification will be printed on the glasses.
    • Here are guidelines to ensure your glasses are safe, with information about reputable companies.
  • Under a partial eclipse (like the one to take place over Laramie County), there is no safe time to view the eclipse without eye protection.
  • Be sure to leave your glasses on until you turn your head away from the sun!
  • Tinted car windows, dark sunglasses, etc. ARE NOT SAFE for looking directly at the sun!


  • If planning to take photos of the eclipse, whether with a camera or cell phone, read these NASA guidelines
  • Use safe-viewing practices by not gazing at the eclipse through your camera without a filter so as to not damage your eyes.



Music on the Riverton Library Lawn

Dancing to The Patty Fiasco

From Fremont County Libraries – Riverton

On July 26, 2017, the Riverton Branch Library wrapped up their fourth annual “Music on the Lawn” series. This summer, they kicked off the series with Elk Tongue, reigning from Laramie Wyoming. They played in hurricane conditions and the young people kept on dancing.

For Riverton Rendezvous Week, the Library hosted Chalk the Walk along with The Patti Fiasco.  There was a ton of jamming, art and dancing happening.  This event drew 675 people.

The next two bands were, Whiskey Slaps, an all- female trio with incredible harmony and Low Water String Band from Lander which are a regional favorite. This type of series requires planning, teamwork and coordination but all that effort and energy is worth it. The staff have as much fun as the attendees.  This series is supported and sponsored by the Wind River Visitors Council.

Upton Donors Give Library the Stars

From the Weston County Library

Dan and Janet Pullen of Upton, Wyoming, recently donated an Orion Star Blast EZ Finder #2 telescope to the Upton Branch Library. They recently moved to Upton from the State of Washington where they were members of the Island County Astronomical Society.

In Washington, the Pullens were big supporters of the Society’s efforts to put telescopes into libraries — a project that first began with the New Hampshire Astronomical Society in 2008 with their “Library Telescopes” program. Currently more than 1,000 libraries across the nation circulate telescopes through this program, and the Pullens felt it was important for the library in their new home to have one.

The library believes this telescope is the first of its kind in Wyoming. It will be available to borrow for residents of Weston County from the Upton Branch Library. The telescope comes with directions and a guide book and is very easy to use.

We can now add this to the list of unusual items circulated by Wyoming libraries.

Each Tax Dollar Spent on Libraries Gives Back $5 in Value to Park County

Roger Murray (left), Shelly Waidelich, and Love Murray meet regularly at Waidelich’s Monday morning Tech Training sessions at the library.

By the Park County Library staff

For every tax dollar invested in the Park County Library, residents receive $5.09 back in library collections, services, programs and facility use, according to the library’s 2017 Report to the Community. This is an $.86 increase over services tracked and published in 2016.

The library system enjoys broad community support, not only in terms of county funding, but, by the 259,883 people who visited in fiscal year 2017. In return, the library staff strives to provide a premiere experience for patrons of all ages.

Library card holders in Park County borrowed more than $6 million worth of materials from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. Books in audio, large print, paperback, electronic, and hardback; DVDs; newspapers; magazines; and music CDs accounted for the majority of services rendered.

The popularity of eBooks declined among Park County readers, which reflects a national preference according to Pew Research Center. “A growing share of Americans are reading eBooks on tablets and smartphones rather than dedicated e-readers, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats,” Pew reports.

Librarians continue to help patrons download audio and eBooks to their devices at more than four times the rate recorded last year. The library as community hub is amply demonstrated by steady wireless and public computer use.

Meeting room use by the entire community increased in value by 50% over the last year. Attendance at the libraries’ 1,200 programs exceeded 25,000 people. The most remarkable increase was in children’s attendance. Children also exhibited the largest increase in hard cover books borrowed.

Volunteers contribute more than 1000 hours annually, which does not include the time donated by members of the Friends of the Libraries. In Cody, their tireless efforts have created a bookstore where proceeds subsidize the county budget. The Powell Friends hold regular book sales. Unmet needs are also underwritten by private donations to the Park County Library Foundation. Direct community support accounts for at least another 10 percent in revenue.

A Summer Night of Art, Coloring, and Boxed Wine

Reposted with permission from WyoFile. The Utopia/Dystopia” art exhibit at Laramie County Public Library in Cheyenne continues through Monday, August 7. Read artist statements and biographies, and see samples of the work on the library web site.

Cristy Anspach, “Highway Reliquary – Mule Deer” handmade cardboard crafted from laminated Wyoming highway maps, and papier mache using a vintage road construction manual, maps, wool felt, beads and vintage book pages. 5.5 x 5.5 x 11 (Cristy Anspach)

By Michael Shay

I join 40 or 50 others on a beautiful June evening to participate in the “Mingle & Make Book Arts Reception” at the Laramie County Public Library in Cheyenne. Our charge is to view the “Utopia/Dystopia” book arts exhibit, color in samples of the featured artwork, sip adult beverages, and mingle, not necessarily in that order.

Something a bit naughty about eating, drinking and schmoozing at a library. I grew up in the libraries of the 1950s and ’60s. Orderly rows of bookshelves that you perused in silence. Stern librarians saw to that. These sedate settings were also dream worlds. I read my way through Tom Swift and the Hardy Boys, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and the Captain Horatio Hornblower series.

The libraries of the 21st century have expanded their horizons — and ours too. Public computer banks, hands-on children’s spaces, teen clubs, makerspaces, coffee bars, films, and art exhibits. They have always been community centers. They are now amped-up, in keeping with the realities of 2017.

No surprise, then, that the library addresses today’s hopes and fears with a “Building a Better World” reading series and the accompanying “Utopia/Dystopia” exhibit. Current events have made us all a bit jumpy. Artwork and books may not allay our fears. Hope lies in the facts that artists continue to create and public space exists to showcase their visions.

Jessica Drenk, “Reading Our Remains” altered books with wax, plaster and string (group), 8 x 48 x 10” (Jessica Drenk)

Librarian and artist Jennifer Rife supervises this annual exhibit of book arts. Rife notes that the library began the exhibit three years ago “to connect the summer reading series with art.”

Pinedale artist Sue Sommers curated the exhibit. Sommers finds herself spending a lot of time in Cheyenne, traveling with her legislator husband, Albert. No stranger to topical art, Sommers dreamed big and requested artwork from well-known artists from around the world.

“When I told the artists the theme, they said ‘Oh’,” Sommers said as she conducted a guided tour of the exhibit at the June 23 reception. “They thought it was very timely and were excited to show their work in Wyoming.”

Miriam Schaer, “Witness” sewn cords bound book created with laser prints of original texts, hand cut pages. 6.25 x 4.25 x 2” (Miriam Schaer)

Artwork is exhibited on the first and third floors of the library. Some is displayed in spacious two-way glass cases that line the corridor leading into the building. “Witness” (single board Coptic bound book created with laser prints of original texts, laser cut binder boards, 10.25 inches wide by 7 inches high by 5 inches deep) by Miriam Schaer of Brooklyn is one of them. It features a handmade book in the shape of the artist’s hand. Schaer’s artist’s statement describes it best:

“‘Witness’… was created for the Al Mutannabi Street Artist Book Project, ‘Witness’ was formed from the initial article in the New York Times that described the bombing of the historic street of booksellers in Baghdad during the Iraq war in 2005. Taking the article, and running it through every version of Google Translate, the pages took on new and unfamiliar forms to an English reader. Albanian, Esperanto, Georgian, Malay, and Serbian now lived side by side with pages covered in French, Italian, and Thai. The pages were then cut in the form of my own hand, sewn on cords, then burned, buried, and dyed to emulate the books that survived the initial bombing. In this age of instant news we are all witnesses. In this age of ever constant information, we all are witnesses and responsible. Claiming ignorance is not possible.”

Patricia Smith, “Pocket Desire Map” drawing, offset printed multiple booklet. 6 x 3.75” (Patricia Smith)

In an adjacent space are two works by Patricia Smith of Paris. Smith has exhibited in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She has a penchant for maps as shown in her two works. “City of One” is a drawing, hand-stamped and signed, offset printed multiple booklet. Eighteen inches by 24 inches when open. “Pocket Desire Map” is a drawing, offset-printed multiple booklet, 6 inches by 18 inches when opened. The library provides magnifiers to help us see the contours of the maps and read the small print.

Smith describes her work this way: “I refer to my drawings as maps, as they are attempts to define a place on paper. The places I am depicting exist within the fluid and mysterious regions of the mind. I use certain conventions of cartography and, in some cases, information transposed from actual city maps. The drawings evolve through a labor-intensive layering of minute details rendered in stippled ink dots, watercolor washes, graphite and other dry media, ink stamping from self-designed rubber stamps, and collaged elements.”

Her artwork was recently featured on the cover of You Are Here: The Journal of Creative Geography, published by the University of Arizona.

Jessica Drenk is a Florida artist raised in Montana who obviously knows her undersea creatures and her high-plains fossils. She uses wax, plaster, string, and old books for her creations which she calls “Reading Our Remains.”

Nyla Hurley, “Nativist Nostalgia” California job case, string, nails, hand-dyed paper, typewriter. 32” wide, varied lengths. (Nyla Hurley)

Wyoming artists include Nathan Abel, Cristy Anspach, Mark Ritchie, Jenny Dowd, Camellia El-Antably, Conor Mullen, Nyla Hurley, and Sommers. According to Sommers, Anspach’s “Highway Reliquary – Mule Deer” had its genesis in a Wyoming roadkill encounter. Anspach’s multi-dimensional piece includes an “exploded” deer skeleton on the bottom level topped with a reclining wool felt version of a deer at rest on the prairie. The observer gets to see both the bucolic version of the animal before its encounter with the machine and then the after-effects. Utopia and Dystopia together.

Hurley’s “Nativist Nostalgia” on the third floor takes up a good bit of wall space and is conveniently located next to the library’s genealogy room. The Cody artist describes it as a sculptural piece. She used an old California job case as a backdrop for a house made from the string. The multiple strands trail to the floor and are attached to personal memories typed on hand-dyed paper. As Hurley describes in her artist statement: “I find myself constantly chasing fleeting feelings and experiences. I am starting to understand that my way of thinking is an addiction or even a disease: a disease of nostalgia.”

Sue Sommers, “Liberty Walking” (detail), altered books created with repurposed coin collecting albums, watercolor and pencil on Yupo, collage and ink. 8 x 6 x 1” (each volume; group), (Sue Sommers)

Also on the third floor are flip books created by Karen Hamner of Illinois. You are invited to handle these, as well as one of Sommers’ repurposed “Liberty Walking” coin collecting books. Instead of coins, Sommers has drawn feet which represent the immigrants coming into the U.S., welcomed by Emma Lazarus’s famous Statue of Liberty poem which is inscribed inside.

When I finally got around to the participatory part of the evening, I chose a line photocopy of the top section of Anspach’s “Reliquary”. With the help of wine-in-a-box and lemon bars, I did a pretty good job of coloring inside the lines.


Michael Shay’s book of short stories, “The Weight of a Body,” was published by Ghost Road Press in 2006. His fiction and essays have appeared in Flash Fiction Review, Silver Birch Press, Northern Lights, High Plains Literary Review, Colorado Review, Owen Wister Review, and in multiple anthologies including “Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking out the Jams;” “Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers” (forthcoming); and “In Short,” a Norton anthology of brief creative nonfiction. Previously he served as the managing editor for the WY Arts Council Artscapes magazine, among other duties. Michael lives in Cheyenne and blogs about books, culture, and politics at Hummingbirdminds.


Need to Borrow a Box of Rocks?

I Love Libraries recently posted a map showing unusual items circulated by libraries. Wyoming didn’t make the map, although plenty of nontraditional items pass through patrons’ hands in this state. Here are a few of them.

Just added to the Gillette College Library catalog: lots o’rocks.

Gillette College just added a set of rocks and a set of minerals as part of their textbook reserves. The sets will be for in-library use by geology students. The sets are pricey, heavy, and awkward, so making them available is a great service to students. If they prove to be popular, the library may add more. Gillette College also circulates graphing calculators to students only.

Weston County Library circulates cake pans at both its libraries. The main library in Newcastle has 145 items including cake pans, Jell-O molds, candy molds and confection stencils. Upton Branch Library also has several cake pans.

Amanda Sanford, Weston County Library Children’s Services Librarian, said that many of the pans are checked out frequently and they often receive comments on what a “neat” idea it is to offer them. Amanda also sent us the wonderful photo of her daughter’s third birthday party, the cake baked in a Strawberry Shortcake pan from the collection.

Feeling artistic? Dubois Branch Library has a two-hour loan period for their colored pencils, Crayola pens, and gel pens for patrons who want to do adult coloring activities.

Park County Library offers Powell Makerspace passes at their Cody, Meeteetse, and Powell Libraries. Passes are good for two weeks: no holds, no fines, no renewals. The Makerspace offers children and adults the opportunity to take classes ranging from 3D printing to robotics to digitized embroidery and to use a wide variety of specialized equipment. The Cody library has Makerspace examples to offer inspiration.

Big Piney’s sewing machine

Sublette County Library – Pinedale circulates American Girl Dolls, cake pans, and a magnifying floor lamp for crafts and sewing. The Big Piney Branch also has the dolls. Additionally, they have a sewing machine that circulates.

We suspect there are some other interesting collection items out there. Did we miss your library? Please share your unusual items in the comments!

Operation Gratitude at the Lander Library


The Pieracini family in front of the Operation Gratitude collection area in the Lander Library.

The Lander Library decided to “Build a Better World” this summer with an Operation Gratitude drive. Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization that sends care packages and letters of support to individual military service members deployed in harm’s way, to their children, and to first responders, veterans, new recruits, military families, and wounded heroes and their caregivers.

“It was an easy decision to do something for the men and women who serve our country,” said Tasha Reeves, Library Assistant and event coordinator. “After all, that’s what they are out there doing every day, trying to build a better world. Operation Gratitude is a great way to honor them.”

The Lander Library set up a collection drive asking for wish list items for these groups. Items on the list included toiletries, stationary, clothing, gift cards, electronics and thank you letters, as well as yarn or knitted or crocheted hats or scarves.

At the end of the drive, the library had collected hundreds of greeting cards, 13 stuffed animals, eight hand-knit scarves, and one big box of hand and body warmers, along with an assortment of sweatpants, socks, stationery, and toiletries. Monetary donations totaled $252. All donations were sent to Operation Gratitude headquarters in California to be packaged and distributed as needed.

“Supporting the men and women who work on a daily basis to preserve our freedoms and to help in times of crisis is our privilege and obligation,” said Anita Marple, Lander Library Manager. “This project is a great example of how the library brings the community together.”