Category Archives: Wyoming Library News

Washakie County Library to Benefit from $500,000 Grant

The former Ace Hardware building, soon to be home to the Washakie County Library.

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.

Preserve Wyoming’s COVID-19 Memories

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, Jennifer Alexander, Wyoming State Museum Collections at, or Sara Davis, University Archivist at the AHC at To send your digital memories directly to the State Archives, visit their website, and click on the COVID19 donations link.

Explore State Archives Digital Resources

The Wyoming State Archives has put together its own “Stuck at Home” page that puts their digital resources at your fingertips from your home computer. On it, you can:

  • Ask an archivist by phone or email
  • Read the Wyoming Postcripts blog
  • Browse thousands of historical photographs
  • Read Wyoming newspapers
  • Explore maps of Wyoming and its municipalities
  • Listen to oral history interviews
  • Read accounts from the WPA Federal Writers Project files
  • Delve into history topics from women’s suffrage to historic buildings
  • Access the Wyoming Blue Book, your one stop for the history of state government
  • Enter the databases for home access to Ancestry Library and more

Find all these resources on the Wyoming State Archives’ website.

Wyoming Library Programs Online

Storytime at Campbell County Public Library on Wyoming Snapshot Day 2019.

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!

Natrona County Puts Books in Kids’ Hands

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.

A Guide to Wyoming’s Carnegie Libraries

Linda Waggener

Linda Waggener, a Senior Library Assistant at the University of Wyoming Libraries, has put together a fantastic new historical resource, the Wyoming Carnegie Libraries Subject Guide: Sources of Information to the State’s 16 Carnegie Libraries. The subject guide includes:

  • A Brief Overview of Carnegie Libraries
  • Information on each of the State’s 16 Carnegie Libraries
  • Archives – Collections, Photographs, and Digital Collections
  • Alliance for Historic Wyoming – “Cowboy Carnegies”
  • Bibliographic Sources
  • 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.

A page from the subject guide showing the Carnegie Library in Basin, Wyoming.

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.”

View and download the guide from the Wyoming State Publications database. You may also email Linda directly at to request a copy of the PDF.

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.