Front Porch Chat – History And Future Of Stutsman County Libraries: Part 1, History

I love screened in porches with air-conditioning. I came to that conclusion yesterday as I arrived at the Stutsman County Museum with the temperature hovering around 90. I had worried about nobody attending my talk on the history and future of the library in Stutsman County and was pleasantly surprised to see  the chairs on the porch fill up.

I think one of the attractions was the almost completed gazebo that Alden Kollman and his team are building.  We could see the new Gazebo reaching its final stages through the bamboo shades

The Gazebo & The Library Talk

My job was to share a few historical facts and update the audience on the new library plans. I had plenty of historical data thanks to the 1983 publication “Century of Stories,” compiled by James Smorada and Lois Forrest. Pages 76-78 contain enough fascinating history to fill up a half-hour, leaving the next twenty minutes for the Future and questions.


1883 – Reading Room over Churchill & Webster’s Store. 496 books. Men only. $2.00 reading fee.

1888 – Women’s Reading Room established, then abandoned when the city council refused financial support.

1901 – Alfred Dickey provides furniture and  books for a free reading room open to all. Library card costs $1. Opera House block.

1909 – Library moves to new City Hall. 1,954 books.

1919 – Alfred Dickey Free Public Library opens at a cost of $30,666. 13,000 sq. ft.             7,000 books carried by children from City Hall over a two day period.

1952 – Stutsman County Library opens in the AD basement.

1954 – First Bookmobile: carries 1,400 books out to the the county schools.

1973 – SCL moves to county shop. 7,000 sq ft.

1983 – AD, 45,000 books, SCL, 29,805 books.

Now jump ahead:

2008: 68% of the voters said combine the two libraries and build one efficient and flexible facility.

2013: One board, one director, one system, one bookmobile. Two buildings.                       70,677 printed collection; 7,338 audio/video collection; A total of 78,065 physical items in the two buildings. 10,102 e-items available for download.

I am about 30 minutes into the program. Charlie Kourajian holds up 2 fingers indicating that I have 20 minutes left.

The Future:  to be continued tomorrow.