Category Archives: Wyoming Library News

Wyoming Digital Archives Adds 1 Millionth Document

The Wyoming State Archives has accepted the one millionth document into their Digital Archives and celebrates the exponential growth of this secure storage method for the state’s valuable records.

Wyoming Digital Archives by the numbers:

  • 7 years
  • 1,000,000 records
  • 190 individual users in:
    • 19 state agencies
    • 12 county offices
    • 1 municipal office (Sundance, coming soon!)
  • 1st documents added by the Secretary of State
  • 1,000,000th document added by the Department of Environmental Quality Air Division

In 2013, the Wyoming State Archives began working in collaboration with the state’s Enterprise Technology Services experts on the best solution for safely and securely housing the state’s digital public records.

They found the solution in the Wyoming Digital Archives, a military-grade storage database for public records, the documents that reflect the work of Wyoming’s government. This includes both permanent records and other documents with long-term value, which were either “born digital” (not created on paper) or digitized.

To date, the Digital Archives boasts 100 licensed security levels, allowing customized access for a variety of users, from the Governor to staff in government offices across Wyoming at the state and local level. At a nominal cost, it provides agencies a way to preserve and manage their electronic records in much the same way the State Records Center and State Archives preserve and manage paper records.

Documents ingested (added) to the Digital Archives are available to the agency’s staff using a web interface with keyword searchability, drastically decreasing the time needed to access older records. Access restrictions can be set by agencies to protect confidential documents and information as needed and to document changes made to the files. The system also includes a page where anyone can search for publicly accessible documents.

“It took us over four years to add the first half million documents, but only two years to make it a million. The Wyoming State Archives appreciates the opportunity to make public employees’ lives easier and put the information they need securely at their fingertips when they need it,” said Kathy Marquis, Wyoming State Archivist.

For more information, contact Kathy at or (307) 777-8691.

UW’s Herbarium Mounts 1 Millionth Specimen

Members of the UW Board of Trustees and others watch as Madison Dale, of Laramie, who volunteers at the Rocky Mountain Herbarium, glues and mounts the 1 millionth plant specimen, a Wyoming Indian paintbrush. The Rocky Mountain Herbarium is the largest facility of its kind between St. Louis and the West Coast, and it contains the largest collection of Wyoming and Rocky Mountain plants in the world. (UW Photo)

From UW News

The University of Wyoming’s Rocky Mountain Herbarium mounted its 1 millionth specimen on January 24. Members of the UW Board of Trustees were on hand in the Aven Nelson Building to witness the historic event.

“The addition of a millionth specimen to a herbarium is a major accomplishment,” Director Greg Brown says. “The Rocky Mountain Herbarium is the most significant natural history collection in Wyoming and the dominant, most important herbarium in the entire Rocky Mountain region. It was important to have the Board of Trustees in attendance not only because of these facts, but to recognize the fact that this is an area of modern science where UW is a recognized leader and truly on the cutting edge of science.”

The specimen chosen to be 1 millionth was Castilleja linariifolia, which is Wyoming’s state flower and is commonly known as Indian paintbrush. This species can be found in many locations across the state.

Established in the fall semester of 1899, the Rocky Mountain Herbarium is the largest facility of its kind between St. Louis and the West Coast. It currently ranks 56th among the 3,324 herbaria in the world and 14th in the United States. It is the fifth largest herbarium at a public U.S. university.

The herbarium is rich in specimens throughout the United States, Canada and northern Europe, but it specifically boasts the largest collection of Wyoming and Rocky Mountain plants in the world to reflect the region’s biological diversity and evolutionary history.

The herbarium is working with several other partners to create a comprehensive digital archive of plant specimens native to the southern Rocky Mountain region as part of a $2.9 million award from the National Science Foundation in 2017. As the largest herbarium in the region, the Rocky Mountain Herbarium has contributed a significant number of specimens, while assisting smaller institutions in their digitizing and imaging efforts.

For more information on the herbarium and to see the progress of the digitization project, visit

In 2007, the Wyoming State Library published a story featuring the Rocky Mountain Herbarium in the Wyoming Library Roundup. Read it here.

New Space Planned for Rawlins Library

Reposted with permission from the Rawlins Daily Times
By Ellen Fike, Special to the Times

It was a little surprising when the staff of the Carbon County Library System branch in Rawlins found out that a big move was in their future.

After nearly 40 years of being housed on the second floor of the Carbon Building, the library will at some point move down to the ground floor of the administrative building. While it will technically be physically smaller, CCLS executive director Jacob Mickelsen believes this might be the best way to move the library forward.

“I was apprehensive about losing square footage, but since the design plans have come out, we’re going to make much better use out of our space downstairs,” he said. “We’re going to add some significant features, like a maker-space or as I call it, a ‘creation station.’ Casper has one like it that they installed about a year ago and it’s really impressive.”

The move is in conjunction with the sixth penny tax, which is intended to generate funds for projects all over the county. Around $27.5 million is designated to remodel the Carbon Building and the courthouse. The library’s funds will come out of the allotment.

With the move, patrons will no longer have to use either the steep staircase or infamously slow elevator inside the building to access the library. They will enter through an outdoor plaza, instead.

There will be designated spaces for children, teens and adults, as well as a Wyoming history room and a computer lab.

Mickelsen believes that by making the library more physically accessible, the staff will see an increase in foot traffic. Being on the ground floor of an administrative building will help, since anyone stopping into treasurer’s office can swing by the library to pick up a book or surf the internet. Currently, around 100 people visit the Rawlins branch per day.

When the move was announced, the library staff held a public survey to see what people would like to see or leave behind with the move. One concern popped up again and again.

“People seem to be really worried that we’re going to get rid of all the books,” Mickelsen said. “That is not ever going to happen. Now, we might change things up and get rid of things that aren’t of any use anymore. For example, we have car manuals taking up quite a bit shelf space. They’re really taking up room when they’re not that useful anymore. This is an instance when the internet is a preferred source.”

He also pointed out how the sale of print books has increased every year for nearly a decade, so no one should be concerned that books are considered a relic of a time gone by.

Mickelsen also noted that some expressed concern that by moving the library down to the ground floor, it was a way of showing the staff and the community that the library wasn’t a concern and being put on the back-burner. However, he feels that by getting a new, remodeled library, the county is showing just how important the CCLS is to the community.

He described how a library is essentially the last place in a community where a person can spend time and not be expected to spend money. People can come in, enjoy the heating (or air conditioning) and flip through books, use the internet, or just sit in a chair and relax for a little while.

But for those averse to change, the move isn’t going to happen quite yet.

“In a project that has around 15 phases, we’re in phase two or three,” Mickelsen said. “We’ve got plans drawn up and we’re working with architects, but I’m not sure if we’re quite in the contractor stage yet.”

Right now, he feels positive about the future of the library system, which includes seven other locations besides Rawlins. These libraries include Hanna, Encampment, and Saratoga. It’s been a mission of the Carbon County commissioners to keep all eight up and running, and Mickelsen said he and his staff are dedicated to that. He even noted that if they receive any budget increases in the future, that money will go toward paying the staff and keeping the libraries open longer.

“We can have all the cool stuff in the world, but it won’t matter if the library isn’t open,” he said.

UW Libraries Names Alt-Textbook Grant Recipients

From UW News

University of Wyoming Libraries recently awarded alt-textbook grants to five faculty members and four graduate students to implement open educational resources (OER) in their classes this spring.

The open textbooks resulting from the grants are projected to save UW students more than $40,000 each semester in addition to the $141,233 already saved by UW students since the program launched in spring 2018.

“With the Alt-Textbook Grant Program, University of Wyoming Libraries hopes to continue to encourage the creativity and innovation we have seen from past applicants,” says Hilary Baribeau, digital scholarship librarian. “What was interesting for this cycle of grant applications was to see how many applicants are already committed to teaching low- or no-cost textbook courses. The OER grant program will help these recipients not only continue to support UW students, but potentially create OERs that will be used in classrooms around the country.”

Grants are awarded to instructors who adopt, adapt or create new open textbooks or other materials for their courses. Grant awards range from $1,500 to $3,000.

See the recipient list.

Worland Friends Celebrate Women’s Suffrage

Members of the Friends of the Worland Library dressed as suffragists.

December 10, 2019, marked the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming, and 2020 will bring the centennial of the women’s vote nationwide. The Friends of the Worland Library recently celebrated with a luncheon event in honor of the 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in our Nation.

Guest speaker at the event was Christy Cormier Vickers, an English/social studies teacher at Worland High School.

The guest speaker was Christy Cormier Vickers, an English/social studies teacher at Worland High School. “She gave an excellent presentation and all of us learned more about this event in history!” said Vicki Overcast, of the Friends group.

Vickie said the event drew 45 attendees and raised more than $1,000 to support the library’s summer reading program, Read Across America Day,  movie/soup events at the library, the yearly gingerbread contest prizes, and more. Community members donated silent auction items and door prizes to make the event a success.

The Governor’s Council for the Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Celebration wants to encourage organizations and communities to participate in statewide celebrations through September 6, 2020.

Are there upcoming events in your library or community? Contact Chris Van Burgh, Wyoming State Library Database Instruction Librarian, at or (307) 777-3642. She’ll help you share your event on Wyoming Tourism’s calendar and within the Wyoming Library Community as well as answer any questions you may have about how to get involved.

Participants at the luncheon.

Wits and Wisdom at Park County Library

Reposted from Park County Library

Park County Library recently held the grand opening of  its Wits and Wisdom room (aka the Teen Room), an expanded space for older patrons. Weekdays, during the school year from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., the Wits and Wisdom room will be available to senior citizens for a variety of activities.

Shelly Waidelich, the Young Adult Librarian for the Cody library, will offer computer access, TV, Blue Ray/DVD players and assistance with technological issues. She plans to organize games like bridge, euchre and dominos. “I’m making a place for my seniors to hang their hats,” she said.

Shelly found that she had excess capacity in the teen room, especially from September through May. So, she taught computer classes and tutored patrons in the mornings. Then, one day in 2015, she noticed Olive Yates at the public computers. Olive looked a little puzzled. Shelly offered to help her set up her email account. Olive became a regular for morning sessions on the teen room computers. She researched her family history on and went on to refresh her Spanish language skills online.

The library promotes equitable access for all. Lack of technological skills can hinder people and Shelly sought to address that deficit. She held Tech Rodeos, encouraged teen tech tutors and formalized Senior Computer Days. She manifested the library vision, “Inspiring, Enriching and Empowering” and made it fun.

Given new tools to pursue their passions, lifelong learners are unstoppable. People may need help with smart phones, tablets and laptop computers, but, a little encouragement goes a long way at any age.

Casper College Holds 6th Annual Book Drive

For the sixth year, Casper College Goodstein Foundation is partnering with Wyoming Food for Thought for its Annual K-12 New Book Drive.

Wyoming Food for Thought distributes weekly bags of food to K-12 students who are in food-insecure situations to get them through the weekend. Donations to the library book drive add a new book (ages K-12, all genres) to the winter food bag over the holiday break for the child or teen to keep, read, and treasure. Nonperishable food items are also appreciated.

The library’s goal is 800 books. In addition to drop-off points around the Casper College campus, they have an Amazon wish list for those who might want to contribute from a distance. Every title on the wish list is a Wyoming book award nominee.

The Goodstein Library sponsors its book drive to support Casper College’s mission of community building, literacy, and lifelong learning. They also use this event to draw attention to the problem of food-insecure families in Natrona County.

Questions may be directed to the Casper College Goodstein Library at or (307) 268-2269.

Building a Better Book

7th & 8th grade students from UW’s Lab School Tactile Design Elective course building better books.

From UW News
By Shannon Smith, former University of Wyoming Library Specialist

Shannon Smith and Teresa Strube attending the Build a Better Book Workshop in Boulder, CO in March.

In January, University of Wyoming Libraries, in collaboration with the UW Lab School, was selected as a partner site for the Build a Better Book (BBB) project at the University of Colorado Boulder. This project is supported by the National Science Foundation, and partner sites range from school libraries to public libraries to academic libraries. The BBB project seeks to help empower school and library makerspaces to “engage youth in the design and fabrication of inclusive media, including picture books, games, and graphics.” This process focuses on the iterative nature of fabrication, testing, and refining designs.

Teresa Strube, UW Lab School Math & Science Teacher, and Shannon Smith, Library Specialist at the Learning Resource Center, joined other members from the 2019 cohort of partner sites to participate in an immersive training experience. Over the course of the training participants were asked to challenge their assumptions of accessibility, step outside of their comfort zones, and engage in conversations to enhance the work of Universal Design within their various maker communities.

The BBB 2019 cohort explored low to no-tech approaches for building tactile and immersive stories and games. Participants discussed in-depth how popular makerspace tools such as Makey Makeys, 3D pens and printers, laser printers, and conductive boards can enhance the goals of student designs as a way to add additional texture and sound to projects. The two-day workshop included tours of Sphero robotics, SparkFun Electronics, and the Boulder Public Library Makerspace (BLDG 61). The librarians and teachers shared their experiences from their maker-centered spaces, heard from researchers on their lessons learned with youth, and even spoke to youth in Boulder who had designed their own multi-lingual (braille, Spanish, and English) board game.

The power of these conversations centered on the possibilities for this work to help youth learn to think from a different point of view. This focus of the project seeks to build empathy among sight-abled youth to support the needs of other youth in their communities both near and far. BBB wants these youth to ask themselves who they are as makers and how they can support the needs of others through the implementation of tactile and audio features into hands-on projects. We are excited to begin our work as BBB partners with middle school students at the UW Lab School, especially as a way to increase conversations of diversity and inclusion. They particularly want to help students explore how design and making can help them become change-makers in the world.

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!

New Location in the Works for Washakie County Library

L-R, Terry Livingston, Library Board President; Arron Anderson, County Commissioner; Mary Grace Strauch, County Clerk; Fred Frandson, County Commissioner; Lee and Gerry Kennedy, sellers of the Kennedy Ave Hardware Building; Karen Jean Funk, Washakie County Library Director; and Terry Wolf, County Commissioner.

A new home for the Washakie County Library is in the works. In September, Washakie County Commissioners signed a $525,000 purchase agreement with Lee and Gerry Kennedy for the Ace Hardware building in downtown Worland.

Library Director Karen Funk said the idea of a new space for the library has been on their minds for years, and this opportunity presented itself in March. The library is currently housed in a former hospital with many small spaces and rooms and poor flow throughout.

“We’ve just ‘made do’ with what we had for an incredibly long time,” Karen said. “We’ve struggled with finding enough room for books, programming, and seating — including comfortable seating for families in the children’s room.” Meeting room space and electrical capacity has also been a concern, she said.

Accessibility will be key in the new location. The building has off-street parking on the main street through town. Karen said they hope the greater visibility will increase library use, as well as help with economic growth with a new and dynamic focus to the downtown area.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Karen said. “Our community will have better access to the materials in the library, and the staff will be able to help patrons more efficiently. We’ll also be able to host after-hours meetings for our community in the new space when the main part of the library is closed.”

Closing on the building is set for November 5, and money has been set aside from one-cent sales tax funds for the purchase. In addition to county funding, the library will search for matching grants to help with the renovation and interior needs for the new building.

At this time there’s no timeline in place for the renovation, although the library has a conceptual design in hand. The current owners have up to one year to move, at which time the work of meeting code, adding fire suppression, and installing a new water line the length of the building will begin. New LED lighting, security, and a new front entrance directly accessible from the parking area will all be addressed as those involve engineer a design. Karen estimates the project may take up to two years.

Karen’s excited for the future of the library and what it will mean to local residents. “Washakie County may not be the richest county in the state, but it’s rich in community,” she said. “We plan on giving the people we serve a public library built for the 21st Century — the most valuable, unique resource we can offer that’s free for everyone to use.”