Big steps being taken toward building bigger, better Truckee Library |

Big steps being taken toward building bigger, better Truckee Library

Kaleb M. Roedel |
The Truckee Library, which was built in 1972, is a mere 5,000 square feet. According to needs assessment reports, Truckee should have a library three times that size.
Kaleb M. Roedel / Sierra Sun |

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The Future Library for Truckee committee includes: Pam McAdoo (Friends of the Truckee Library), Louise Zabriskie (FOTL), Ruth Jackson Hall (FOTL), Seana Doherty (volunteer) and Ursula Rinna (volunteer).

Online: Visit to learn more about the Friends of the Truckee Library and the Future Library for Truckee committee.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — In the late 1960s, members of the Truckee PTO started a movement to have a library built in Truckee.

At the time, books were merely shuttled into town by a bookmobile. Community and county support was strong. And as a result, land was donated, local funds were raised, grants were given, and eventually, in 1972, the Truckee Library was built.

Nestled on Levon Avenue, a quick turn off of Donner Pass Road, the library was roughly 3,500 square feet; cozy, but plenty spacious for a town with a population of only 3,000 at the time.

Forty-five years later, despite it nearly closing in 1996 due to reduced funding, there the Truckee Library still stands. However, while Truckee’s population has multiplied nearly five times since ’72 (more than 16,000 people and growing), the library’s size has not even doubled in that span.

The Friends of the Truckee Library, a nonprofit, grassroots organization, is blueprinting plans to change that.

“We have advocated for the library to get bigger as we grow (as a community),” said Ruth Jackson Hall, chair of FOTL. “We’re currently at 5,000 square feet and we’ve been there for quite awhile, and the population is so much bigger now.”

In fact, a needs assessment report commissioned in 2014 by the FOTL indicated that, based on the current population and estimated buildout, a new Truckee Library should be between 17,000-19,000 square feet — close to five times its size now.

“Basically,” Hall said, “we’re so wildly undersized for what we need and the services that everyone wants; the things a modern library offers. We just really want to be able to expand the services and really bring the technology in that we need.”


Currently, the library — which sees an average of 70,000 patron visits per year — has only 14 computers and 30 seats for public use. Hall said the needs assessment concluded that a new Truckee Library should have 52 computer workstations and 130 seats.

Moreover, the report recommends five study group rooms that total 36 seats, a community meeting room that can seat 175-200, and 60 floor seats for children’s programming.

Notably, the quantity of books and audio/video the current library has (43,888) is closest to matching projected needs (55,000). That large inventory, however, has inevitably put strain on the facility’s small space.

“Now is really the time for this project,” said Seana Doherty, chair of the Future Library for Truckee committee, a group of locals that recently formed to investigate what needs to happen to realize a new library. “Because it really is a reflection of our community, saying that learning and access and connections and preservation of our culture is a top priority in this community.”

And to many in the community, it is.

“This town really uses their library,” said P. Tanzy Maxfield, who’s lived in Truckee for more than 30 years. “And it’s been a very important part of the culture of the town. What it provides is making lifetime learners.”


So what would it mean for Truckee to have a bigger library that better serves the community?

“It would be fantastic,” Maxfield said. “Because then you could take parts of that and make it into a community center. Here, we’re too small. It would provide a service — not just a place you store books. I think a bigger facility would be invaluable.”

Barbara Sullivan, a Truckee resident of 20 years, feels the same.

“It would become a whole different entity,” Sullivan said. “It would be a community center, really, a place to bring people together. And hopefully provide literacy support for people and keep them interested in books and learning.”

For Guillemette Johnson, a mother of two, she wants a library that provides more opportunities for her daughters Lia, 6, and Sasha, 3.

“I come here for my kids, not so much for me,” said Johnson, also of Truckee. “She (Sasha) goes to day care at the hospital and they come (to the library) every week, but I feel like if there was a larger space and if it was more inviting — this one is very dark and gloomy — then more kids would be coming in, and there would be more kid’s programs.”


Thus far, the Future Library for Truckee committee has hired numerous consultants to help plan a new building.

Much has been discovered, but the most significant data shows a new library would need 2-3 acres of land, and the estimated cost of actually building it would be in the $14 million to $20 million range, Doherty said.

After collecting input from the community, town officials and local leaders, the committee has also zeroed in on possible sites.

“We’re very interested in the potential opportunity to be situated in the (Truckee) Railyard, to be a presence in the center of town,” Hall said. “We’re dedicated to finding a spot in the heart of the community.”

As for a projected opening date, Doherty said that the campaign has visions of opening a new Truckee Library in 2020.

“That being said,” she added, “the next priority over the next year is to finalize the financial plan of how we’re going to get there funding-wise through private and public funds and partnerships.”

Helping matters, the committee recently got official support from Nevada County to move on with project planning, Doherty said.

“We really wanted them here at the table and moved into being a really enthusiastic partner, not a reluctant partner,” she continued. “So that’s a huge shift for us.”


Roughly two-thirds of the Truckee Library’s operations are funded by a one-eighth-cent Nevada County Library sales tax, which was voted in for five years in 1998.

In 2003, on the heels of the Truckee Library’s 1,000-square-foot addition, the sales tax was re-upped for another 15 years — meaning, in less than a year, next November, the renewal of the Nevada County Library sales tax goes to vote.

“The language hasn’t been written yet, but it will be on the ballot,” Hall said. “The challenge is to build a library, and part of that will be through the sales tax.”

As for other sources of potential funding, the committee’s plans includes a combination of fundraising, private funding, donations and grants, Hall said.

She added, “If the sales tax passes, there’s a potential to leverage the sales tax revenues to purchase bonds to build the library.”

Hall also said that the committee, through consultants hired by the county, will be polling the community about what services they would like a new library to provide.

Those interested in helping with the campaign or to learn more about future library plans can email the Future Library for Truckee committee at, or call Ruth Hall at 530-314-9368.

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