100 years of service: Silver Falls community celebrates its library

July 2013 Posted in Other

Silver Falls Library

410 South Water St.
Visit www.silverfalls.plinkit.org
to see the libary’s events,
hours and offerings.

By Don Murtha

From meager beginnings in 1913 in a private home in Silverton, the Silver Falls Library has grown to a 17,172 square-foot building housing 75,800 volumes and serving 19,500 people within the 186 square miles the district encompasses.

This year the library is celebrating its 100th birthday with three events. The first was in January. The second will be July 13 with a band concert, a frozen yogurt social, children’s games and the Michael Black quartet.

Spring Quick, adult services librarian, is in charge of organizing the centennial events. Librarian Marlys Swalboski presides over them.

“The library will remain open until 9 p.m. during the celebration,” she said. “The yogurt will be free until we run out.”

The third centennial event will be on Nov. 2. It will feature music by Dennis Zelmer, refreshments and an open house.

“We are calling it our Happy Birthday since it comes in the month the first library opened in 1913,” Quick said.

The concept for the library came in1911 from the Silverton Women’s Club and the Silverton Women’s Science Social Club.

By 1913, the idea had become reality in a room in a private home in Silverton with 250 books, furniture and a stove at a cost of $240.

In 1916, the Oregon Library Commission gave official recognition to the Silverton Library. The Silverton City Council appointed a board of library trustees. Mrs. J. E. Kircher was hired as the first librarian.

Over the years various attempts to finance the construction of a library building failed.

In1919, the library moved to Silverton High School and in 1923 to Eugene Field School.

In 1925, voters approved the construction of a new City Hall at its present location on Water Street. The building included one room next to the mayor’s office for the library.

By 1931, the library had outgrown the room next to the mayor’s office. At that time the Good Templar Society offered $537.38 for the construction of a library provided that the city would give $1,000 a year and $10,000 for the library.

The Good Templar Society fund was not used until 1968.

Ernest Byberg made a major donation of $1.2 million and another major donation was made Charles Hoyt in memory of his wife Gladys, who had been a member of the library board.

In September of 1996, ground was broken for the new Silver Falls Library and the building was occupied in June 1997.

In the meantime, the library became financially independent from the city budget when in May 1994, voters approved a ballot measure to establish the library district with its own tax base.

On July 1, 1994 the Silver Falls Library District became a reality.

Visit the library today and you will find people meeting for many things – rom book clubs to knitting groups.

It’s a place where teens go to study and seniors spend a morning reading newspapers from across the state and country.

What it has been from its humble beginning is a treasure – which anyone with a library card can access.

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