In 1906, Walsenburg’s Woman’s Club decided that the community needed a library. Their vision started as just one book case filled with donated books, situated in the corner of a room in the Court House.
The women worked diligently to acquire more books. According to an early account they “donated books, begged books, gave teas, sold candy and cakes, gave concerts and entertainments to save up enough nickels, dimes and dollars for a respectable book fund.” Through the labors of these dedicated gals, “the library outgrew its little corner.” A small Court House room was then dedicated to library use, with each Woman’s Club member volunteering time to keep the library open a few hours a week.
By 1927 the library had grown enough that it was moved into a small, remodeled house and it was open every afternoon. The next move, again due to growth, was in 1935. The Woman’s Civic League united with the Woman’s Club for a bigger, better library.
The most significant aspect of this effort was not the “larger, attractive Elks home,” into which the books were moved, but the change in how the library was funded. Rather than relying solely on donations, bake sales and the good will of a few dozen women, much of the expense of maintaining a proper library was taken on by government entities – a change surely credited to good PR and lobbying activities by interested citizens. The librarian’s salary came from the city; an assistant was paid by the Statewide Library Project; rent and utilities for the building were contributed by the county. Funds for books continued to be raised by the Woman’s Club with their “tag day,” and by the Civic League with public card parties. Additional revenue came from “the sale of borrowers’ cards, fines and pay books.” At this time, the library contained about 5,000 volumes.
Thanks to Miriam Pritchard, who in her will donated the land, the present library was constructed in 1952 – a $15,000 project back then. Six trustees were named to the board for terms of one to five years. These first trustees were Sabino Archuleta, Mary Cowling, Alvina Leuthje , Frances Nelson, Walter Wheelock and Sarah B. Williams. Cora Mockmore was librarian until 1966 when she was replaced by Frances King who served in through 1990. Amy McCray took over in January 1991, and then the library’s first trained professional, Sylvia Rael Arnott , came aboard in 1992. With a masters degree in library science and information, she has begun updating the 7,500-volume facility to improve its service to Huerfano County residents.
As more citizens become interested and involved in their library, it has great potential for positively affecting the quality of life for folks of all ages throughout Huerfano County.
Also learn more about the History of Huerfano County High School, soon to be the library’s new home!