The history and future of the Truckee Library |

The history and future of the Truckee Library

Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.comFriends of the Truckee Library board members advocate for community programs, current literature, responsible management and a new, larger building. Seated from left: Nancy Wilkins, Barbara Sullivan, Ruth Jackson Hall Standing from left: Rolann Aronson, Joann OBrien, Pam McAdoo and Lauri Ferguson.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; In 1872, with great prescience, The Truckee Republican, Truckee’s newspaper of the day, published an article entitled, and#8220;A Public Library Needed.and#8221; It stated, and#8220;The people of Truckee need a public library. Next to a public school we do not know of anything that tends to repress crime, dissipation and vice, more than a place where old and young, male and female, can obtain good books and newspapers without let or hindrance. There is every indication required that our town will be permanent and have a prosperous future, and these are also reasons we should have a public library. The sooner our citizens form a library association and make a beginning the better it will be for the welfare of society, of which they are, or should be, the guardians. We should be pleased to aid, to the extent of our ability, in a mater of such public utility.and#8221;

Despite this early advocacy, it took more than 100 years, until 1976, to open the doors of a dedicated library for the citizens of Truckee. For more than 10 years prior to this, a group of mobilized Truckee citizens worked diligently to bring this library into being.

Library services in Truckee began with a bookmobile in the ’60s. By the late ’60s, the first and most colorful solution to a permanent library was proposed: To convert the derelict historic jail on Jibboom Street into a library. Local author, Sue Cauhape, reported in The Reno Gazette Journal, and#8220;Heavy iron doors would remain open wide, allowing children to read in one cell and researchers to study in another. The huge drunk tank offered enough room for the general collection. It posed a unique solution of retooling historic buildings for modern uses. Despite the donated designs, supplies and labor, though, it took too much time to pull it all together. The Truckee library never made it to jail.and#8221;

A search for temporary space continued until May 22, 1970, when a book collection was finally established at Church of the Mountains Methodist Church in downtown Truckee. A Friends of the Library organizational meeting was held there on May 25, 1971 and a few days later, the library moved across the street into another temporary location, the historic grammar school, where it moved from room to room. In 1973, when the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District began steps to purchase this building and establish what is now the old Community Center, it was more than clear the library needed a permanent home.

On June 4, 1975, The Sierra Sun announced: and#8220;The Nevada County Planning Commission approved a use permit for the construction, operation and maintenance of the county branch library at the southeast corner of Levon Avenue and Donner Pass Road and#8230;and#8221;

In July, 1975, on land originally donated by local benefactors, the Joseph family, the first shovel of dirt was turned at the new site. The library, which was completed on August 23, 1976, was built with federal revenue sharing funds ($192,507), a Max C. Fleischman Foundation grant ($31,432) and Truckee community donations ($9,590).

Since that time the Truckee community of residents has rapidly grown from 3,500 to more than 16,000, and library space and services have been unable to keep pace, despite two library expansions. The Truckee Library is a cultural Mecca for permanent residents as well as visitors and second homeowners who swell the population to more than 100,000 during the tourist seasons. The Truckee Library is too small for a community that loves its library. There is no more room to expand on the current site. The Friends of the Truckee Library is currently planning for a new Truckee Library as well as leading efforts to raise funds and address ongoing fiscal challenges for library operations.

It is clear Truckee values its library: In recent years, close to 100,000 patron visits were made annually, and residents have twice overwhelmingly approved a sales tax measure to augment funding from the county. Truckee Friends of the Library is dedicated to bringing about the creation of the new, modern library that Truckee needs and deserves.

The Friends of the Truckee Library (FOTL) is an incorporated, nonprofit, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the Truckee Library as an essential institution of society. Our members advocate, educate and raise funds on behalf of the library, its patrons, and the entire Truckee community. We are a dedicated group of active volunteers that has spent four decades devoted to growing and sustaining the Truckee Library.

It has been the historical role of FOTL to advocate for and raise funds to sustain our library, augment library collections and enhance programming. FOTL helped advocate for and build the first library in Truckee, and has been instrumental in securing its well-being ever since. In the ’90s, FOTL’s advocacy and fundraising kept our library’s doors open while a more permanent source of funding was secured. FOTL sponsored the two highly successful local campaigns to pass a county sales tax, which has been providing additional library funding for the past 20 years.

The Friends raise funds through used book sales, events and donation drives to provide community cultural events, materials for children’s programming and adult literacy programs, and to purchase monthly best sellers to assure current literature is readily available to Truckee patrons. FOTL is directing its efforts to planning for a new library that will meet the needs of a growing population. For information visit

and#8212; Ruth Jackson Hall, chair, Friends of the Truckee library

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