An Unexpected Little Library

By Karen Jean Funk
Washakie County Library Director

From time to time a librarian needs to take a day off from work. The need is there to use some vacation time, take personal time and just to attend to “stuff” that overwhelms us all at times. Sometimes the need is just to decompress from the duties and decisions we have to make day after day.

Today was the day, the ranch where I live is getting ready to brace for the first winter storm of the season. Some of the herds are still on the mountain and gates need to be opened. We had no idea what the conditions were, but I went along into the unknown, seeking adventure and a change of pace.

High in the Big Horn Mountains, close to 7800 ft,  the  “Slip” Road from Kaycee and the “Hazelton” Road meet. We get to our Bear Trap pasture and the cows are encrusted with snow and the wind is icy on our cheeks as we push into the wind. The herd looks thankfully at us as we get the gate open to let them migrate farther down the mountain. It’s time for them to go home and to lower ground where the feed is good and the water isn’t frozen. As we head back down the road I see what looks like a mailbox. Knowing there is no postal route in Johnson County up here, I curiously walk up to the mailbox.

I smile as I see it. And think, I can never get away from this! Written on the side of this mailbox, it says LIBRARY. I opened the door, instructions fell to me in black lettering inside the door. “Take a Book,” it said! A healthy selection of books, magazines, and even a CD awaited me. How wonderful,  I thought I as I looked at the titles! Holding tight to each one as the mountain wind and snow were revving up, I made a selection. What am I doing, I thought! I reminded myself that I was trying to disengage from the Library…and looked what happened?!

This re-affirms what people ask me every day. Are libraries going away? Are they dead? NO! The libraries will never die. This of all things must prove that!  There is a need to educate, entertain, and to share our passion with books. If you’re in the Big Horn Mountains sometime, just beyond the Slip, look for the mailbox. It is on the Hazelton Road, a dirt road, a stock drive. Take a book or two, and if you have a spare, share one.

It was a great day off!

Browse by Category

Browse by Month


  1. Chris

    Karen Jean-this is wonderful!
    Are these your pictures too? If so, I would love to get a print of the open mailbox.!
    thanks for sharing!

  2. Tina Bear

    My grandparents had a mountain camp up in that area when I was a kid , a very special place that I have very fond memories of. Special people that have land in that area

  3. Karen Funk

    Hi Chris, It is my picture…help yourself!

  4. Holly A Smothers

    Outstanding pictures and article. I’d love to visit that place some sunny, warm day. Libraries RULE!

Similar Articles You May Like