Monday, September 17, 2012

Stanley Library Builds For Future

The Stanley Community Library was established in January 1979 to serve residents of the mountain city.  During nearly 34 years since then, the Stanley Community Library (SCL) has been housed in four cramped, makeshift locations, eventually outgrowing each one.  Late this year, the SCL will finally have a permanent place to call home in a new building designed as a modern library from the ground up.
After an early June groundbreaking, Sawtooth Valley Builders
crews have used dry summer weather to make great progress
on the new library.  Above, the first framing begins July 23rd.
As of mid-September, the building is roofed and siding is on.

"Our library users, Board, Staff and Community are so excited about having a brand new library in Stanley.  It's been a long time coming and we are all so grateful for the incredible support and enthusiasm everyone has shown for this historic project," Librarian Jane Somerville said.

 The new library building will provide a more than 50% gain in floor space to about 2,000 sq. ft. versus the 1,315 sq. ft of the current building.  The new building's design provides much better visibility and energy-efficiency.  The multipurpose room will meet many needs and be accessible after hours to community groups. In addition to an excellent, downtown location, the library is expected to anchor new planned development that includes housing, retail and commercial space, and a central community plaza.

"We deeply appreciate the many friends and supporters who have helped the Building Committee over the past several years as we have worked toward finding the library a permanent home," Librarian Somerville said.
Features of the new Stanley Community Library include a high tech multi purpose room available for public use after hours, a comfortable reading area with a gas fireplace, a much better children’s area, as well as 4 adult and 2 childrens stations for public access computers. There will be lots more room for WIFI users to connect inside and outside as well as outdoor seating and outlets for WIFI use.  The big bonus for patrons will be additional floor space to facilitate a substantial increase in the library’s collection.

Although a permanent library has been talked about for decades, efforts to create a new library began about 6 years ago and became very serious last year when the building site property became available. In a relatively short time enthusiastic Library Board members and community supporters have raised just under $400,000 to get the project well underway. The total estimated cost is approximately $590,000 which includes the property purchase price, construction costs, furnishings and a maintenance fund. The new building and property are assets that will belong to the library district. Eliminating rent will reduce operating costs significantly.  There have been no new taxes and the library has not taken on any debt for the new building project.

The Stanley Community Library has two part time paid Staff. Longtime area resident Jane Somerville became the Stanley Librarian in August 1998, over a year before the library moved in October 1999 from shared space in the Community Center to its present location at 33 Ace of Diamonds Street.  Librarian Somerville has an almost lifelong love of books and libraries.  She recalls one of her fondest early childhood memories, “The very first place I could go all by myself (at age 4) was the Carnegie Library kitty corner to my house. My mom could watch me from the front door, and when I got there she would go in the house. I spent many wondrous hours there.   It was so quiet there, had great little tables and chairs....and ALL those books! I was in heaven. Even the librarian, Miss Booke, was not too stern with me because I knew how to put the books back where I found them."

Asst. Librarian Casey Bruck reads
during Story Time in the current
library's cramped Children's area
Librarian Somerville generally works 22-26 hours each week while Assistant Librarian Casey Bruck works 12-16 hours.  Anywhere from 5 to 15 volunteers serve the SCL.  The volunteers are mostly retired and include both year-round and seasonal residents.  The library also has a “Friends” group.  The Stanley Community Library is governed by a Board of five Trustees: Ellen Glaccum, Julie Rember, Phil Coonts, Dave Lesser. Ervine Baird resigned in August and new member will be appointed at the September meeting.  Ms. Glaccum is Chairperson. The Board meets at 4:30 pm on the third Wednesday each month at the library. 

The SCL manages a print materials collection of 5,726 items.  Annual circulation has grown from 1,336 in 1999 to 2,451 in 2011.  Reference transactions were a mere 82 in 1999 and tallied 456 in 2011.

The SCL owns a diverse collection of 375 audio books, most all of which get checked out.  Mystery and non-fiction are the two most popular categories.  In addition to the library’s collection, audio books are available from a rotating circuit that changes every two months. 

During 2012, the library has filled 134 Interlibrary Loan requests. 

The SCL’s number of patrons is relatively stable from year-to-year and ranges between 350-400, including temporary card holders, summer employees, etc. Library usage peaks during July and August each year. This year's library usage has been: April, 296; May, 427; June, 758; July, 1282 and August, 1019.  August numbers may have been lower because of The Halstead Fire's impact on tourism to Stanley and Sawtooth Country.

About six years ago, The SCL purchased an inexpensive router to provide free 24/7 WIFI. The WIFI signal can be used outdoors even when the library is closed and has proven very popular.  This year, library Staff began counting outdoor usage.  “We’ve counted over 900 users since the beginning of May, but that is only during our open hours and only the ones we see. I’m sure it’s at least triple the ones we see,” Librarian Jane Somerville said.  Outdoor WIFI patrons often use the donation box to show their appreciation for the service.

The Stanley Community Library is funded by revenue received from a taxing district. The SCL’s operating budget for fiscal 2012/13 is $78,500.00.  No tax dollars have been used in funding the new library building project.

The Stanley Community Library originated as a club which formed in 1977. Student Todd Sullivan’s interests grew into the Astronomy & Missing Civilizations Club, which met at the Mountain Village Lodge. Other members included Bud and Rita James and Larry Milligan. Efforts to find books and materials for their projects led to the formation of a library. Bud James was encouraged by the Idaho State Library in Boise to set up a library on a similar basis to the one in Leadore. On January 18, 1979, the Stanley Community Volunteer Library was established.  Its first location was simply a shelf at the Mountain Village Lodge.  Later, the library moved to the The Stanley Steamer Building (Glass shack), Stanley Community Center and its current location at 33 Ace of Diamonds Street.

Since moving in October 1999, the SCL outgrew the current Ace of Diamonds location and it became too small for community needs. The former residential building provided only 1,315 square feet on two floors with no separate meeting space.  Book shelving is now full.  The small public area provides inadequate for computer users, especially those bringing their own laptops. The cramped children’s area is not visible to a one-person library staff.  Other significant issues with the Ace of Diamonds location include lack of ADA compliance due to steep stairs and poor shelving as well as no work area and inadequate storage for Staff. The Ace of Diamonds facility is rented and cannot be remodeled to meet current and future library needs.

"The new library simply wouldn't be possible without the thousands of hours of volunteer time by our board, donations from near and far, outpouring of community support, help and assistance," Librarian Somerville emphasized, "We're so thankful that the Stanley community cares so much about the public library."

Here are the links to learn about The Stanley Community Library and watch the progress of the new building project.

This website is regularly updated with photos taken by a web cam overlooking the construction site.

Here is the website devoted to describing the new library.

This is the actual library website.

Selling calendars is a cherished annual fundraising activity for the Stanley Community Library/
Here is the website for calendar sales.

Finally, here's the email address for the library:

(Editor's Note: This article will also appear on a separate website for Salmon River Libraries. We plan to describe both the history and current status of the Challis and Salmon public libraries.  This winter, we hope to begin compilation of a bibliography for The Salmon River complete with book reviews.)


Siegfried said...

hurray for a new library! I have spent many, many happy times in many of those.

John, I'm trying to ascertain if I can get thru to you via this blog. Let's see.

Elissa Kline said...

So glad for the Stanley Community. That library,and Jane Somerville
(as well as Casey, volunteers & board members) do a tremendous service for the people of Stanley and those passing through. My family has certainly benefited from it's connection to the SLC - it was an integral part of raising our son. I can't wait to see the new library!