- Miller and A. Ramirez working together at Troy Library. Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian.
By Brian Baxter
Photo of Inez M. Herrig. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Ramirez.
The Libby Library originated from humble beginnings, whereas prior to the creation of a county library the Libby Woman’s Club had sponsored a small private library to serve the citizens of Libby. Then in response to a petition signed by three-hundred taxpaying citizens of Lincoln County, the Board of Commissioners established the Lincoln County Public Library on July 9, 1920. The library board leased the former Libby Woman’s Club building to house the new facility. Members of the Woman’s Club donated their collection of two-thousand volumes, and Miss Antonia Grandjean began services in December of 1920.
In 1923, the library was moved to the former First National Bank building, and then to rented rooms in the Hotel Libby from 1929 to 1936. In 1936, the library moved to a wing of the new county courthouse, which had been built to house the library. The building where the library is now located was built in 1964, and re-named the Inez R. Herrig Building in honor of Lincoln County’s long serving library director. Lincoln County Public Libraries services established branch libraries in Troy in 1922, and Eureka in 1923. Uniquely, the outback regions of the county were also reached by springs of these fountains of knowledge through the use of a bookmobile from 1956 to 1976.
Our newest Library Director Alyssa Ramirez, comes to us highly qualified and with a fresh burst of intellectual energy. She has a degree in Library Science from Simmon’s University in Boston which is a highly respected institute of learning. Other members of the professional staff include Dustina Deans, Circulation and Youth Services Supervisor; Chelsea Drake, Collections Technician; and Keeli Green, Library Clerk. Keeli is relatively new to the team and performs her duties in a personable manner after gaining experience dealing with the public as a Libby Dam Tour Guide and also working with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as an Aquatic Invasive Species Inspector at the Troy Inspection Station.
Another important component of our rural county library systems are the Friends of the Library. These volunteers provide a necessary support structure, and perform a diversity of tasks. The Libby Friends include: President Susan Horelick; Secretary Malia Bennett; Treasurer Chuck Gerheim; and long standing members Jasmine Augustine, Julie Drake, Roger Larson, Marilyn Morkert, Marg Donovan Walker, Bob Zimmermann, Lynn Zimmermann, and many more. These folks and the staff combine efforts to offer many programs in addition to the myriad of other services. In the next two months, the Libby Library will be offering eight sessions of summer reading programs at J. Neil’s Park; ATV Awareness with NW Motorsports and the Health Department; four Farmer’s Market events; two FOL Book Sales; five Read Up sessions with Lincoln County Health Dept. and Best Beginnings, as well as many other programs.
At the Troy Library, a capable and friendly Sharee Miller directs everyday operations as Librarian. Assisting her with programs and projects are the Troy Friends of the Library that include Andrea Kensler-Chiaverini, Kimberly Finley, Marsha Weber, Katie and Bill Tingey, and Erleta Hall. Now through August 16th, the Troy Library will offer thirteen summer reading programs. When this reporter asked what she was looking forward to this summer, Sharee said, “I just love putting together programs that are entertaining and engaging for the children. We had so much fun last year during summer reading that I am really excited about all our upcoming summer reading events this year. It would be difficult to pick just one that I am looking forward to. All of the programs I plan are about giving children a fun and educational outlet. This is what makes them all special to me.”
It has often be said that numbers don’t lie. The statistics for Lincoln County Libraries in Libby, Troy, and Eureka are impressive. During the time period of July 2018 to April 2019, there were 65,096 patron visits, and the busiest month was July 2018, with over 9,500 visitors to all three branches. There were 26,759 items transferred between partner libraries. As far as Service Levels and Programs, there were 24,478 reference questions answered, 12,645 computer Wi-Fi sessions, 314 programs offered, and 4,969 program attendees.
When asked what she was looking forward to in her work with the libraries, Alyssa Ramirez replied, “I’m very excited about the changes coming to Lincoln County Library and the future of the libraries. Next year marks the 100th year of the library and we are working hard to show that the library is still relevant and an integral part of our community. A new logo, dynamic staff and a well-defined strategic direction will set the library as a community hub for another 100 years.” Alyssa applies her library science skills along with her organizational talents, in a logical structured style. All the while wearing her characteristic big smile. It looks like this fountain of knowledge is in good hands for the future.