GOSHEN COUNTY – In 1921, a group of women in Goshen County had a vision. After 100 years, their vision still lives on in the Goshen County Library.
Tuesday, Nov. 16 saw two ribbon cuttings for new StoryWalks in Goshen County and the kickoff celebration for the 100th anniversary of the Goshen County Library.
The first ribbon cutting took place in Fort Laramie. A few weeks ago, volunteers setting up the StoryWalk found themselves with an unforeseen problem.
Welding students at Lingle-Fort Laramie High School had already made the stands and the pages of the story had already been inserted into the stands. Once the stands were in the ground, kids would be able to read a story as they walked with their families from stand to stand along the path.
Everyone who had planned to set up the StoryWalk suddenly found themselves in quarantine. The project appeared to be delayed at best, too late for the planned ribbon cutting ceremony. So, Planting Roots Preschool teacher Laura Curtsinger gathered the families of her students. Together, they rose to the challenge of setting up the StoryWalk.
“When I saw those pictures, I got teary-eyed,” Ellen Creagar said. Creagar serves as the president of the library board of directors.
At noon, residents and local leaders gathered to kick off a year’s worth of celebrations. The library board of directors oversaw refreshments, including treats from The Bread Doctor on Main Street. Torrington Mayor Randy Adams, Fort Laramie Mayor Joyce Evans and Goshen County Commissioners John Ellis, Cody Cox and Justin Burkart were all in attendance along with staff from the Wyoming State Library.
As guests put together their plates full of vegetables, croissants, cheeses and desserts, Library Director Christine Braddy picked up a microphone to announce the start of the celebration. She thanked everyone in attendance for their support and paid special tribute to the Goshen County women who worked so hard to first start the library.
Braddy invited Ellis up to read the proclamation.
“It’s nice to be here and I’m very honored to be able to read this proclamation for the Goshen County Library,” he said. “I think it’s well on the way to be here in another 100 years.”
The proclamation outlines the origins of the library, including its beginnings in a room in the newly built high school and the appointment of the first library board. Ellis proclaimed Nov. 16, 2021 the official kickoff of the library’s 100th year and Nov. 14, 2022 the official centennial anniversary and “called upon our citizens to celebrate the centennial year of the Goshen County Library by attending activities in celebration of the start of the centennial year…and by visiting the library to discover what was set in motion 100 years ago and continues to serve the residents of Goshen County today.”
After Ellis made the proclamation official, Braddy took the opportunity to thank her library staff. She called up two of her staff, Janet Flock and Anita Sanchez, to recognize them for the work they do for the library and its patrons.
Later that afternoon, Braddy and the board of directors met on Yoder’s Main Street. Together with Yoder Mayor Norman Feagler, they welcomed kids from Southeast Elementary School to the inaugural walking of Yoder’s brand new StoryWalk. The kids stood bundled in their coats and hats against the wind, smiles on their faces as their teachers led them through the story, which starts on one side of Main Street and goes down before looping around to end right across the street from the where the story begins.
As she talked about the StoryWalk and the 100 years the library has seen so far, Creagar noticed the kids on the far end of the street, following their teachers to the next part of the story. Their little legs stuck out from the bottoms of bulky coats and rushed to keep up with their classmates.
“Look at that!” she exclaimed.
Everyone else turned to watch as child after child made the trek in the cold wind to the next page of the story.
“That is our future,” Feagler said.
The whole group dropped their conversations with smiles on their faces and laughed with joy as they watched the students.
“To be able to put the library in these communities is just such a gift,” Creagar said. “I think I would like to thank the strong women from 100 years ago.”
The StoryWalks were funded in part by the Community Pride Foundation, Wyoming Community Foundation and the Wyoming Arts Council.
In 1921, the Community Dames decided to raise the funds for a county library. They faced opposition from farmers who didn’t want their taxes to go towards a library. Finally, on Nov. 14, 1922, the Goshen County Library was incorporated. Erle H. Reid, Mrs. Odessa M. Dearing and Mrs. Lois E. Sevison served as the first board of directors. Mrs. Helene R. Warthen served as the first librarian.
To celebrate 100 years of serving Goshen County residents, the current library board of directors and library staff have planned a year’s worth of events. The next one is set to take place Dec. 4 with a Polar Express party complete with a story, craft and hot chocolate for kids to begin at 10:15 a.m. and a cocktail party for adults to begin at 5 p.m. Tickets for the cocktail party are available through the library before the party or at the door.