All posts by Jessica Otto

Celebrate Cheyenne Day with Wyoming History

It’s Cheyenne Day today and while the Wyoming State Library offices are closed this afternoon, you can access our digital collections online anytime, anywhere! Our staff has gathered some Cheyenne Frontier Days and rodeo-related content for you to peruse, but you can find much more Wyoming history with each database linked below.

A historic newspaper page with photos of Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1944.
Page 4 of the Fort Warren Sentinel from July 28, 1944.

Wyoming Digital Newspaper Collection
Historic newspapers are full of information, including photographs, illustrations, weather reports, and social columns. Our earliest archive dates back to 1849 but many of these papers survived for only a brief time and disappeared like the boom-and-bust ghost towns of Wyoming and the west. This collection contains 142,270 issues comprising 1,171,758 pages. Here are some of our Cheyenne Frontier Days favorites:
Wyoming Publicity Edition (August 1, 1913)
Wyoming State Ledger (June 27, 1922)
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle (July 27, 1943)
Fort Warren Sentinel (July 28, 1944)

Wyoming Places
This fun digital collection provides information about locations, histories, and name origins of places in the great state of Wyoming. There are twelve search results for the keyword “cowboy,” including Beatty Gulch, named for cowboy James Beatty, who was thrown from his horse at that location. The town of Frontier in Lincoln County is now long-gone, but was once a successful mining town that was “pleasantly located, with good schools and churches, electric light and excellent water system.”

Wyoming Publications
This database contains Wyoming government agency documents and federal publications concerning the State of Wyoming. You’ll find budget requests, agency reports, and even historic brand books:
Official Brand Book of the State of Wyoming (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015)
Scoping Statement: Checkerboard Wild Horse Removal (2016)

Patent schematics
System for Practicing Roping (Patent 4498676)

Wyoming Inventors
System for Practicing Roping (Patent 4498676 by Robert R. Runner of Pavillion, WY)
Animal Roping System (Patent 8579293 by Casey Sellers and Colter Sellers of Buffalo, WY)
Training Apparatus for Calf Roping (Patent 8297980 by William Clark Reynolds of Wright, WY)

Wyoming Trademarks
Did you know you can check the status of Wyoming trademarks with our digital collection? Our database catalogs Wyoming trademarks, both current and archived, issued since 1881.
Cheyenne Frontier Days (active)
100th Annual 1996 Cheyenne Frontier Days (inactive)
Return to the West (inactive)

Congrats Wyoming Library Leadership Institute Class of 2021

After two years of planning, Wyoming Library Leadership Institute 2021 gathered June 23-25 in beautiful Pinedale, Wyoming. The first day saw participants learning about the Wyoming Library Leadership Institute, the benefits of belonging to a professional organization, and the many benefits of journaling. That evening we celebrated a spectacular Happy Hour hosted at the Sublette County Library to which past WLLI grads were invited. On Thursday, Elissa Ruckle from Elevate Wyoming determined participants’ personality colors and dove deep into communication tips, lizard brain reactions, leadership styles, and generational traits. Friday morning was spent on building and leading teams. Participants enjoyed the beautiful surroundings in Pinedale, the gorgeous Sublette County Library, and amazing meals from local restaurants. Like Wyoming Library Leadership Institute on Facebook to see more pictures of this year’s gathering.

13 people smile and stand side by side in front of a scenic mountain lake view
Left to Right: Susan Parkins, Cindy Mosteller, Jessica Otto, Judi Boyce, Darcy Acord (mentor), Samantha Griffis, Jacque Strike (mentor), Kimberly Redmond, Linda Herget, Tammy Plowman, Liz Palmer, Rachael Svoboda (mentor), and Johanna Tuttle (mentor).
13 women sit at a long restaurant dining table, smiling at the camera.
Clockwise from Left: Jessica Otto, Tammy Plowman, Samantha Griffis, Susan Parkins, Darcy Acord (mentor), Cindy Mosteller, Liz Palmer, Johanna Tuttle (mentor), Rachael Svoboda (mentor), Judi Boyce, Elissa Ruckle, Linda Herget, and Kimberly Redmond

Jessica Otto, Wyoming State Library Collections Technician and a member of the WLLI 2021 graduating class, said she found the opportunity to participate in WLLI “lifechanging.”

“I was able to meet more members of my library community and become a part of something really special,” Jessica said. She also admitted her expectations for the experience were exceeded, “I knew this could help me become a better leader at work, but I wasn’t prepared for all these lessons to apply to my family life, my community life, and even my relationship with myself.”

“My biggest takeaway from the institute was relearning what a leader actually is. Being a leader doesn’t mean doing things before anyone else does or telling all the ‘followers’ how to do their tasks,” Jessica said. “Everyone has their own unique abilities and leadership style. Moving forward, I know that teams are comprised of leaders and there are ways for everyone to lead together.”

Visit the Wyoming Library Leadership Institute’s webpage for more information about its history, participants, and upcoming events or to continue your leadership journey through a volunteer committee position.

Welcome Katelyn Wittenborn to the Wyoming State Library

Katelyn in orange shirt sitting at computer
Katelyn Wittenborn

The Wyoming State Library welcomes Katelyn Wittenborn as our new Interlibrary Loan Technician in the Information Services office. She will be responsible for providing support and training to interlibrary loan staff employed at Wyoming libraries within the WYLD network, as well as assisting with the State Library’s ILL needs, processing library materials, and managing our mail room.

Katelyn originates from southern Illinois, where she attended a local community college before moving to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in English in the spring of 2020 and is currently working towards her Master of Library and Information Science through the University of Washington’s iSchool.

She has worked in a variety of positions prior to the Wyoming State Library, from farm-sitting during high school to student work in human resources. For the past three years, Katelyn has worked as a writing tutor at the University of Wyoming, and recently joined the American Heritage Center last year where she assisted with digitization for the Rocky Mountain Online Archive. Katelyn’s continuing passion for information access is what brings her to our library.

“We are thrilled to have Katelyn join our team,” Information Services Manager Abby Beaver said. “Not only will Katelyn bring fresh ideas from her library science program, but we are eager to utilize her tutoring skills to develop more ILL training opportunities.”

Katelyn said one of the things she is most passionate about is making information accessible to everyone, no matter their background or circumstances. She hopes to learn as much as she can from her peers in order to provide the best possible experience to ILL users. “Interlibrary Loan Services play a huge part in making sure that everyone has access to the resources and materials they need, no matter where they’re from,” she said. “It’s so rewarding to help facilitate that process and to increase accessibility for patrons.”

A fun fact about Katelyn is that she is a published author, having won a couple of creative writing contents in high school. She says she can’t remember what the names of the publications were, but they’re out there somewhere.

“I’m looking forward to new adventures at the Wyoming State Library,” Katelyn said. “I hope to continue to grow and gain new experiences during my time here, and to always continue learning.”

Job Opening: Natrona County Library Adult Services Specialist

Application deadline is July 30, 2021. Click here for more details.

Adult Services Specialist
Full-time benefited position
Evenings and weekends required

Natrona County Library is seeking a skilled, confident individual who is passionate and eager to deliver services and programs; to help patrons’ research questions, suggest materials to read, teach about library resources and provide dynamic customer service to patrons.

The successful applicant should be able to:

  • Plan and implement programs for specific target audiences.
  • Speak and work effectively with the public and other staff.
  • Understand and effectively communicate value of library services.
  • Confidently interact with patrons for a variety of reasons, including in order to transfer knowledge and skills to patrons in group and 1:1 settings, and to redirect patron behavior as needed.
  • Provide resolutions to patron problems with computers, E-readers, mobile devices and software.
  • Lead book discussion groups, Creation Station programs and other programs and classes.

Must have superior customer service skills. This position requires a high level of technology skills. (e.g. computers, software, media devices, troubleshooting computer/device issues, teaching others.)

Full Job Description can be found here.

WSL Job Opening: Bibliographic Services Librarian

The Wyoming State Library is seeking an experienced individual to serve as the Bibliographic Services Librarian for the WYLD Network office in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

See the full vacancy announcement here.

This position is responsible for assisting library staff throughout the state with issues related to the cataloging, serials, and acquisitions modules in the statewide integrated library system (SirsiDynix Symphony). This position ensures the quality of the bibliographic database by monitoring data entry, resolving issues with cataloging and serials records, creating original records, creating and maintaining related documentation and training materials, and by overseeing the creation and use of authorized headings.

The Bibliographic Services Librarian reports directly to the WYLD Manager and serves as a point of contact for member library staff with questions or concerns about acquisitions, serials, and cataloging practices. This position works with the WYLD Support Team to address basic ILS related issues, plan for the implementation of new features in the ILS, identify training needs, and deliver training to library staff.  Additionally, this person serves on statewide committees when needed and provides a leadership role for other technical services staff in the consortium.

This position is perfect for a candidate who:

  • Has knowledge of national standards and practices including AACR2, RDA, MARC format, authority control, Dewey Decimal Classification, and Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Has experience using Integrated Library Systems and Library Services Platforms with an emphasis on technical services
  • Demonstrates excellent interpersonal skills, and a positive attitude when working with library staff and coworkers
  • Can creatively solve problems and negotiate and handle stressful situations in a positive manner
  • Can multitask, prioritize, and demonstrate innovation and flexibility
  • Is comfortable providing training using a variety of methods for users with varying levels of technical expertise

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Master’s in Library Science or equivalent from ALA-accredited institution
  • At least two years of post-MLS professional-level cataloging work in a library, including experience with OCLC
  • Effective communication, interpersonal, organization, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people with varying levels of computer skills, as well as the ability to make technology understandable to the library community
  • Ability to work effectively in a team setting and independently
  • Familiarity with library technology standards and protocols such as AACR2, MARC, and RDA

New Grant Opportunities from Wyoming Humanities

Wyoming Humanities logo with the phrase Think WY celebrating 50 years and a magnifying glassWyoming Humanities has two new grant opportunities available, both of which can offer significant dollars to nonprofit humanities organizations and organizations that provide humanities programming. The goal of Wyoming Humanities’ grants is to support public programs that use the humanities to explore the state’s histories, stories, issues, and connections between groups and communities.

Wyoming Humanities American Rescue Plan (ARP) Grant
DEADLINE: Applications available July 15
Wyoming Humanities ARP Grants will support nonprofit organizations as they “prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the coronavirus.” Three grants will be available to support nonprofit organizations across the state: General Operating Support Grants, Programming Support Grants, and Recovery Support Grants.

Wyoming Crossroads Grant
DEADLINE: Applications available July 15
Wyoming Crossroads is a state-wide public humanities initiative to bring humanities perspectives to help Wyoming realize growth out of change. The aim of this grant is to serve the three primary goals of the larger initiative: increase Wyoming’s intellectual, community, social and civic wealth as the state restructures its economy; apply humanities programming in new and innovative ways to reach audiences that do no typically engage in public humanities; and develop new partnerships with groups and associations not typically considered “humanities” or cultural organizations.

Executive Director Shawn Reese and Director of Grants and Programming Chloe Flagg will share the application process, details about the grants, and answer questions during a live webinar on Friday, July 16 at 11 am. Click here to register for Explore New Grant Opportunities from Wyoming Humanities.

For more information, visit the Wyoming Humanities website or contact Chloe Flagg, Director of Grants and Programming, at or (307) 721-9246.

WSL Job Opening: LSTA, SDC, Institutions Librarian

The Wyoming State Library is seeking an organized and communicative professional to facilitate library development by providing research, consulting, statistical, and other support to libraries of all types, and to manage federal grant projects.

See the full vacancy announcement here.

This position serves as the State Data Coordinator and engages in regular communications with Wyoming libraries and with colleagues nationally. Statistical duties include collecting, organizing, analyzing, and distributing library data and statistics, supporting the effectiveness of libraries by giving stakeholders data tools for making comparisons, advocating for their libraries, and making data-driven decisions.

Challenges include working with libraries to ensure consistent data reporting. This entails clarity of instruction to libraries, verification of responses, communication, and provision of training. Careful analysis of the numbers, discerning and evaluating the factors that affect the statistics, is necessary to create valid, usable data products. Oh, by the way, the use of a sense of humor with stats work is appreciated.

This position serves as co-coordinator for Wyoming’s federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants and any additional grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). As a co-coordinator, this person will advise staff on projects supported by federal funds, and ensure adherence to IMLS guidelines and to Wyoming’s 5-year-plan for IMLS funds. Duties include developing, collecting, and maintaining documentation in order to complete the annual report to IMLS on the grant. This person will manage LSTA stipends to libraries at the 13 state institutions, serve as consultant to them, and perform site visits.

As part of the State Library’s reference team, this person will demonstrate exceptional customer service in providing reference services to patrons. In addition, this position will manage the Wyoming Newspapers digital collection.

From the WSL Vault: Papers of Governor Osborne

The Governor of Wyoming, John Osborne, chastised the Greystone Club of Denver, Colorado, in a speech on March 13, 1894.

Wyoming has long been known as the Equality State for granting women the right to vote in 1869, long before the rest of the country. Upon Colorado’s adoption of female suffrage in 1894, the Wyoming Governor John E. Osborne was invited to speak during a celebration at the Greystone Club in Denver. He was surprised to find not a single woman in the audience at the event, and wasn’t afraid to speak up about it.

“Their absence would indicate a serious oversight on the part of the club in making up their programme, as well as a discourteous failure to recognize those whom you have so recently made your equals,” Governor Osborne said. “The representatives of Wyoming, your predecessors in the great ballot reform movement, are here to greet those who have been freed from an unmerited bondage and not those who have but performed their duty in proclaiming that freedom.”

“Wyoming’s Greeting to Colorado” is found in the public papers of Governor Osborne, published in 1894. Visit this document and many more via the State Publications Digital Collection.

Black History Month: Empire, Wyoming

A snippet from the front page of the December 9, 1909 issue of the Torrington Telegraph. Sally Thistle, J. W. Speese, and O. R. Taylor were prominent residents of Empire.

In honor of Black History Month, we’re taking a look at Empire, Wyoming, the first entirely African-American community in the Equality State. While the town has faded into history along with many of its wild west counterparts, the impact of its community members was revolutionary. Empire began in Goshen County near present-day Torrington, Wyoming, in 1908. Encouraged to travel west by the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909, the town was founded by African-American families seeking a racially self-sufficient and politically autonomous community. Communities like Empire could also be found in other western states, but it was the only one of its kind in Wyoming.

The town had its own postal services, two churches, a schoolhouse, and at its peak boasted 36 families, according to the 1910 census. Prominent residents of the community include Russell Taylor, an ordained Presbyterian minister and cofounder of Empire; Sally Thistle, a local teacher; and the Speese family, who cofounded the town with the Taylor family. Empire Post Office was established on April 10, 1912 and operated until August 14, 1920. Laws in Wyoming during this time required schools to segregate their students if there were more than 15 non-white students, and thanks to Taylor, Empire used this to its advantage by having its own entirely African-American student population within their town rather than having to send students to the school in Torrington ten miles away. The Empire school hired an African-American teacher, Sally Thistle, and Taylor also taught at the school for many years. (In the newspaper clipping pictured from 1909, Miss Thistle of the Sheep Creek school was said to be “proving to be a good instructor to the pupils.”)

By the 1920s, Empire was fading away due to harsh farming conditions, racial tensions, and community isolation. Today, travelers can “visit” Empire, Wyoming at the Sheep Creek Cemetery just a mile over the Nebraska stateline, or via the Wyoming Places Database.

Want to learn more about Wyoming’s Empire?

Making a Home in Empire, Wyo. by

Empire, Wyoming by the Alliance for History Wyoming

Empire Wyoming | Homestead National Historical Park by the National Park Service

Webinar: Getting Started With Ancestry Library

ProQuest Ancestry logoLooking for tips on how to get started using Ancestry Library Edition for family research? This is the session for you! This 30-minute webinar will provide tips for getting started with genealogy. ProQuest will review the content included in Ancestry Library Edition as well as some tips on searching. This session is appropriate for beginners – both librarians looking to help patrons and library patrons who want to use the library edition of this popular family research tool.

Getting Started With Ancestry Library Edition:

In response to the pandemic, ProQuest has made Ancestry Library Edition available for home use with a Wyoming library card and PIN through March 31, 2021. As of April 1, Ancestry will only be available for in-library use.

Ancestry Library Edition is one of several genealogy resources available in Questions about the GoWYLD databases? Contact your local library for assistance, or contact Chris Van Burgh, Wyoming State Library Database Instruction Librarian, at