Library History: Wyoming Library Association

Apr 12, 2019

Before National Library Week comes to a close, we have one more story to share about Wyoming’s library history: the formation of the Wyoming Library Association (WLA).

An October 8, 1914 article published in Laramie’s Weekly Boomerang attributes creation of the association to Basin librarian Agnes K. Snow, who was chairman of the federation’s Literacy and Library Extension Committee. The formation of the association “will tend to increase the usefulness of the county and other libraries in the state and to secure needed legislation, as well as helping librarians in their work.”

Snow proposed the idea of the association before the annual meeting of the Wyoming State Federation of Women’s Clubs in Douglas in August 1913. The federation created a special committee to consider the formation of the group and appointed Snow its chairman, assisted by Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, the first librarian at the University of Wyoming.

The library association held its first meeting on October 7, 1914, signing the constitution and electing officers. The association selected Dr. Hebard as president, Snow as vice president, and W.S. Ingham, librarian at the Laramie Carnegie Public Library, as secretary-treasurer.

There follows a long on-again-off-again account of the association when wartime rationing made transportation and organization funding rather difficult. When membership finally settled out in the middle of the 20th Century, the WLA set to work establishing statewide practices. The association reported legislative success in clarifying bonds for county libraries, changing county library laws to delete outdated practices, and enabling county library boards to organize cooperative library systems crossing county lines in 1961, and helped formulate standards for Wyoming public libraries throughout the 1960s.

Today, the WLA is a staple in the Wyoming library community. The association provides support for libraries and library staff, and according to the WLA mission, they provide leadership, advocate for advancement of Wyoming libraries, educate the library community and users about contemporary library services, issues, and technology, provide members with a network for interaction on professional and social levels, and promote the profession of librarianship and participation of Wyoming libraries in regional, national, and global library arenas. The WLA also organizes and hosts the annual Wyoming Library Association Conference benefiting library staff and library communities around the state by encouraging minds to connect and share.

Find this and more library history of Wyoming with the Wyoming Newspapers Project.



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