When Puyallup’s Carnegie Library opened on Feb. 11, 1913, the Puyallup Valley Tribune reported that architects who had viewed the building’s plans pronounced it to be the best building of its size and cost in the country.
One hundred years later, Puyallup Mayor Rick Hansen marked the occasion by presenting an official proclamation to honor the library on its 100th anniversary. He also kicked off the Mayor’s Reading Challenge during a ceremony at the library Feb. 11.
Hansen challenged readers of all ages to read 100 books during the year. Library director Tim Wadham said those who meet the challenge will have their names posted on a special plaque and receive special prizes that will be donated by community organizations.
Any books read from January on will count toward the challenge, Wadham said. Additional events and prizes will be featured throughout the year-long anniversary celebration.
Wadham said one will be the launching of an annual literary lecture series. Named in honor of Jim Taylor, community educator and friend of the library, the signature lecture will feature internationally known author Susan Cooper. The author of books for children and adults, Broadway plays and Emmy-nominated screenplays, Cooper won the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor Award and two Carnegie Honor awards for her five-book sequence, “The Dark is Rising,” considered a classic work of children’s literature.
Details of all anniversary events can be found on the library’s web site, in print publications and at the library.
Wadham’s enthusiasm for the library’s next 100 years is catching.
“Libraries are the foundation of democracy and the heart of the community,” he said, “and their mission is to make information available to everyone.”
Wadham said the future provides an opportunity for the library to continue its goal to make it the best institution in the country that serves a similarly sized community.
Historically, libraries have been a source of lending, regardless of the format. Information sharing has been part of Puyallup’s history from its beginning.
In 1912, Puyallup citizens approached Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist, for a construction loan to build a new library at Pioneer Park. Carnegie considered public libraries to be the best possible gift for the community, since they gave people opportunities to improve themselves.
The Puyallup Library became one of nearly 1,700 in the United States built between 1883 and 1929 with Carnegie funds.
Wadham applauded Puyallup citizens for supporting the bond issue required to build the current library in 2002.
“Not many community libraries occupy such a position of prominence,” Wadham said. “It feels like a hometown library, but it is also the library of the future, even as it honors the past.”
Bonnie Anderson, the youth services coordinator, affirmed the importance of community libraries, considering them to be the heart of the community and the doorway to somewhere new.
“Even if people can’t go someplace in real life, they can get there in their minds,” Anderson said.
As the library enters the next century of service, it will continue to depend on a staff of professionals, as well as new technology to keep the library on the forefront of information sharing.Linda Henry is a freelance reporter for the Herald.