Laramie County Library System was awarded the Public Library Association and Microsoft Corporation’s “Public WiFi Access Micro Grant.” The grant was created to provide libraries in rural localities with the needed hardware to expand WiFi access on or near library grounds. Laramie County Library System’s IT team recently installed the new hotspots in both the Burns and Pine Bluffs branches.
The WiFi access at the Burns Branch Library now extends into the park across the street, while WiFi access at the Pine Bluffs Branch Library now extends across the street and down the block from the building. The WiFi is available 24/7, is free to use, and does not require a library card or account to access. Laramie County Library System encourages anyone who needs WiFi to utilize the service, whether they access it from within the building during open hours, from their vehicles, or from the surrounding access area.
Laramie County Library System recognizes the importance of internet access, especially during a global pandemic where many work and school-related activities have moved online. Executive Director and County Librarian Carey Hartmann said, “The COVID-19-related problem for our citizens who do not have internet, or who have only a smartphone, is that many of our parents, students, employees, and job seekers were at a huge disadvantage when schools, colleges, job applications, and work went online and libraries closed. We are constantly working to find ways in which to help alleviate this problem, and expanding WiFi access in our rural branches was a big step.”
The new WiFi enables Laramie County Library System to provide internet access whether or not the organization’s facilities are open, better preparing the library for future closures such as the one brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The expansion and improvement of the Burns and Pine Bluffs Branches’ WiFi are all part of the library’s mission to “serve the people of Laramie County by encouraging and supporting lifelong learning and adventure.”
The Ten Sleep Library was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Wyoming Library Association’s Outstanding Library of the Year Award. This award recognizes an exemplary library for a significant special project completed within the last two years. The Ten Sleep Library is a branch of the Washakie County Library system.
“I’m just so honored that we were chosen,” said Karen Funk, Washakie County Library Director. “We’ve had a huge amount of support over the years. Whenever we’ve needed a hand, the community has stepped up. And the staff are incredible – they’ve worked so hard and put their hearts into this little library.”
Ten Sleep Library was honored for its expansion that included room for an after-school program. The expansion was funded by grants and both cash and in-kind donations, including a Wyoming Business Council grant for $136,177 and a land donation valued at $12,922 from Washakie County School District #2. The Washakie County Library Foundation provided $27,000 worth of additional new shelving.
The after-school program is supported through a grant from Washakie County Youth Alternatives and through private donations. “After the Bell” provides children with after-school care, activities, healthy snacks, and homework help after they leave the school building, giving their parents peace of mind.
To be named as WLA’s Outstanding Library, the staff, library board, community, or people served must all have been involved in the work for which recognition is sought, and the Ten Sleep Library excelled on that front.
“When we looked at the nominations, what set the Ten Sleep Library apart was its community support,” said Anna Street, WLA Awards/Grants Committee Chair. “The fact that such a small community could pull together the grants, donations, and partnerships to make this happen really impressed us. It’s a well-deserved honor.”
The Ten Sleep Branch Library and Washakie County School District # 2 work together as a cooperative to provide a combination school and public library that serves the Town of Ten Sleep and the outlying ranching and farming community.
Earlier this summer, the Wyoming State Library used CARES Act funding to support summer reading on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Robin Levin, Head Librarian at the Fort Washakie School and Community Library, spearheaded the effort to distribute print books since many in that community have difficulty accessing e-resources.
Now, the Wyoming Community Foundation has kicked in some help with a $3,200 grant to buy a trailer to cart around the giveaway books that were funded by the WSL. The WYCF grant was made to an educational non-profit, Fascinating Learning Factory, that serves as the project’s fiscal agent.
The grant covered a 4’x6′ bumper-pull cargo trailer, exterior decals, interior shelving and organizing hardware, an electric connector for the little pickup truck that hauls it, and title and license. Robin and her crew have dubbed it “Book Moby,” and have begun taking it out and about
“For the future, it looks like schools may still struggle to reopen,” Robin said, “so I’ll drive ‘Book Moby’ out to the reservation weekly, getting more books out to our friends and families!”
Laramie County Library System will receive $145,000 from the American Library Association (ALA) to build capacity and expand their programming to small businesses and entrepreneurs from low-income and underrepresented groups. Laramie County Library System is one of 13 public libraries around the country to receive this funding from Libraries Build Business, an initiative of the American Library Association funded by Google.org. Google.org has invested $2 million to begin the initiative. This grant — made as part of the tech company’s Grow with Google initiative to create opportunity to all — will also create learning resources for any library to support entrepreneurs in its community.
“Laramie County Library System is excited to continue building our Library 2 Business services,” the system’s Executive Director Carey Hartmann said. “The Libraries Build Business Grant gives us the opportunity to further develop our program, to ensure our communities know about it, and to continue our work of sharing our business resource expertise with other libraries in the state. Libraries have so much to offer entrepreneurs, start-ups, and growing small businesses, and the role libraries play in the economic health of a community will be in the spotlight as this project progresses.”
The Libraries Build Business grant will help Laramie County Library System build a robust program called Wyoming Libraries to Business (WL2B) that connects women-owned and rural businesses to critical resources for business growth and development. WL2B will expand outreach services in Laramie County by providing one-on-one consultations with business owners in the library’s rural branches, install a space for video production and marketing photography in the Cheyenne library, and eventually expand its service model to libraries across the state.
Learn more about this project as it progresses and about LCLS’s Library 2 Business (L2B) resources and services.
Washakie County Library to Benefit from $500,000 Grant
On June 16, the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) approved a $500,000 grant to Washakie County for renovations of the former Ace Hardware building to be used for the Washakie County Library, Worland-Ten Sleep Chamber of Commerce and the Washakie Development Association. Space will be created in the 19,452 square foot building for business incubation, entrepreneurial use, and workforce training.
This puts the library one step closer to the expanded, modernized space it has needed for years — county and community leaders have been studying options for the library since 2007.
“I’m so excited that Washakie County was awarded this grant,” said Karen Funk, Library Director. “The new library will soon become our community’s shining star. This project is a great example to other counties on how working together under one roof — library, Chamber of Commerce, Youth Alternatives, and Washakie Development Association — can benefit the entire community and enhance the downtown area.”
This money will be matched with $1.8 million in local dollars and over $500,000 in in-kind contributions. The community has raised over $1 million in private donations with the rest of the cash and in-kind match provided by the Washakie Development Association and Washakie County.
The grant was a Community Enhancement project through the Wyoming Business Council’s Business Ready Community Grant and Loan Program. When the WBC board met on May 7, they unanimously recommended it for funding. They praised Washakie County for the planning that went into the project and the large match they obtained. Board member Kim DeVore described the project as “an absolute pleasure and a slam dunk.” The project is expected to revitalize Worland’s downtown and encourage economic development and innovation.
This week is Preservation Week, and the best time to preserve history is while it’s happening. The Wyoming State Archives and State Museum, the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center (AHC), and Wyoming State Historical Society are working together to encourage you to consider how you would tell future historians about your experiences and memories of this unusual time.
Do you keep a journal or a blog? Have you created your own mask for making essential trips outdoors? Are you creating artworks or craft projects to commemorate or pass the time? Are you talking on Facebook or Instagram with your friends about how this pandemic has affected your life? Preserving those memories are all ways that you can remember this time for yourself and give future historians clues about how we coped, how we communicated, and how we memed.
If you’re writing down your thoughts, please consider donating a copy to the State Archives or the AHC. If you prefer to reflect on social media, use the hashtag #Covid19WY. If you’ve used your crafting skills to make PPE masks, signs, or documented your feelings visually, the State Museum is interested in hearing from you, and you may see those objects someday in an exhibit about the challenges of life in 2020.
Why is it important to preserve these memories and experiences now? Partly because it is fresh in our minds, and partly because we don’t want Wyoming’s story and the lessons we learn through this crisis to go untold. You may be reading stories about the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Historians learned about this devastating time through personal stories and photographs, as well as official accounts and newspaper articles of the time. Letters, diaries, photos, and artifacts speak volumes about the courage, fear, and community support that people experienced.
For more information or to offer items, contact Kathy Marquis, State Archivist at email@example.com, Jennifer Alexander, Wyoming State Museum Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sara Davis, University Archivist at the AHC at email@example.com. To send your digital memories directly to the State Archives, visit their website, wyoachives.org and click on the COVID19 donations link.
With libraries across the state closed, does your child miss spending time with their favorite librarian?
Many Wyoming public libraries are hosting storytimes and crafts on social media. We encourage you to check with your local library, or look them up on Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram to see what they might be offering. Tune in and enjoy some library fun from home!
During the closure of all the schools, Natrona County Library recognized the importance of continuing to get books into the hands of the community’s young readers even though the library was closed.
Using programming funding that would have otherwise gone unused during this time, NCL decided to gift nearly 5,000 picture books, easy readers, early chapter books, and young adult fiction to homebound students. The books will be distributed through school lunch pick-up points, and readers are empowered to pick their own books from the wide array of options.
Ordinarily, the library does three trips to Title 1 schools each year to distribute books to students in preschool, second grade, and fifth grade. They’d done two of the three, but with schools closing, realized the third wasn’t going to happen.
“This time we took those books we’d already purchased, plus titles for young teens that were in the Friends of the Library section and divided them so there was an assortment for all reading levels,” said Kate Mutch, NCL Assistant Director. “We delivered those to central services, who then will send them out to the food distribution points that the school district implemented the very first day of school cancellation.”
She added, “We thought this was a way to get the books into the hands of children in the community at a time where reading is not only fun, but even more important than ever.”
For seniors, the library supplied around 400 large print books to Meals on Wheels to be distributed to homebound and elderly citizens that may not have access to other print or digital reading materials during this time. The library is also pulling from their collection and donations made to the Friends of the Library to select a variety of books for use in stocking Little Free Libraries throughout the community.
Information on each of the State’s 16 Carnegie Libraries
Archives – Collections, Photographs, and Digital Collections
Alliance for Historic Wyoming – “Cowboy Carnegies”
Local and State Resources
Librarians and researchers are sure to discover something new in the subject guide. It is a valuable tool for public libraries, academic libraries, and archives for their staff and patrons who are interested in learning more about every one of Wyoming’s 16 Carnegie Libraries. It includes resources to find additional information and photographs of the exteriors and some interiors of the libraries.
This is essentially a range live-stock country, in which men are constantly going to and coming from town. A Carnegie library here would benefit a class that are seldom benefitted by such institution, and would afford a quiet, wholesome and instructive resort of character that are too scarce in these western range towns.
Casper – June 12, 1905 letter from Mayor Wilson S. Kimball
Linda works at UW Libraries in the Interlibrary Loan department. She’s a fifth-generation Wyomingite and two-time cancer survivor who grew up in Green River and began her library career in high school as a page at the Sweetwater County Library. She earned her M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston (now Simmons University) in January 1991 and worked as a reference librarian at the Natrona County Public Library and then with the Fort Worth Public Library.
In December 2019, she graduated with an M.A. in American Studies from UW. Her nine years of research went into the Wyoming Carnegie Libraries Subject Guide.
When Linda began the American Studies program in 2011, she was looking for a thesis topic that would involve both Wyoming and libraries. “Since the Green River Carnegie library became my favorite pastime, it was the perfect topic,” she said. “While doing the initial research, I discovered that I would have to narrow the topic down, and then decided to look at the Wyoming Carnegie Libraries on the Union Pacific Corridor.”
The project was not without its obstacles. She worked full-time while taking one class per semester, keeping up that schedule even when in March 2015, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent six rounds of chemotherapy. In August 2018, her father passed away and then in April 2019, she was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer that was unrelated to her first cancer.
“At this point, I contacted my committee chair, and said I was bound and determined to complete this.” Instead of a thesis, she wrote a Plan B paper on the “Wyoming Carnegie Libraries and Their Importance in the Public Sector.” After finishing six rounds of chemotherapy in August, she had her defense in September.
Afterward, she met with her full committee. “Since they knew I had done quite a bit of research on the Wyoming Carnegie Libraries, they suggested I create a document that would include all my research and share that document with libraries throughout the state. Since, I hadn’t done anything like this before, I met with the UW Instructional Design Librarian to come up with a suitable design. We decided that a subject guide would be my best bet.”
She spent September to December writing and creating both the paper and the guide, and managed to complete them before starting the next round of chemo in December.
For her project, Linda used the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University, since they are the repository for the Carnegie Corporation of New York Records. She spent time conducting research at the American Heritage Center, the Wyoming State Archives and the Wyoming State Library. She conducted site visits or contacted public libraries and local/county museums in the towns that had received a Carnegie Building Grant for additional information and photographs. She also viewed the digital newspapers available through the Wyoming Newspapers database and did article searches through various databases.
I take the liberty of calling your attention to the town of Rock Springs, Wyoming, which now has a population of over five thousand people made up largely of miners, and addition to that, clerks, many of whom are single, and have no place to spend their evenings, except in Public Places, particularly saloons or dance halls, where they are exposed to the drink habit more than is the best for them.
Rock Springs – March 13, 1907 letter from R. Harvey Reed
The biggest discovery she made “was the amount of support that each community gave for the Carnegie Library. In many cases this was the first library in its own building. The Carnegie Library became an important part of the public sector by providing not only books, newspapers and periodicals, but also a place for holding meetings and community events. The correspondence from the community leaders promoted the town to the fullest extent. They spoke about the importance of the railroad and the mining industry. They spoke about the citizens.”
Linda hopes the subject guide will be used to help librarians and researchers locate resources on the Wyoming Carnegie Libraries and also to learn more on the history of public libraries in the state. “Hopefully they’ll discover new material and be able to read the correspondence between community officials and citizens to Andrew Carnegie and James Bertram.”