You may remember the Wyoming Public Libraries from such controversial ad campaigns as the “Mud Flap Girl Flap.” (See more here and here.)
But Wyoming’s libraries are not all red light.The two we visited in Fremont County were both well-used, sturdy, sensible buildings, which harkened back a century when they posted recruitment material back east, looking for Wyoming Librarians.
In Riverton, after a delicious honey-sunflower-blackberry milkshake from Sunrise Donuts took the edge of the 96 degree day, we found the library in a tree-lined enclave towards the outskirts of town.
The architecture was interesting, mixing contemporary design with bare wooden beams and wide open spaces, which gave it a very particularly Wyoming feel.
They had a fairly limited selection of books on what the world out there had been like before the settlers showed up, but the books they had were fascinating.
We had no intention of visiting another library in Fremont Co. We only stopped in Lander to get gas. But when the first thing we saw off the highway was the friendly blue library arrow, it was impossible to resist.
It turned out to be well worth the detour. The Lander Library is an original Carnagie Library, cleverly expnded upon so as to maintain the original structure while bringing the building up to contemporary standards.
Inside, they were making great use of the original building as a theatre and community space
while the new building was chock full of books,
folk art (including peices made from the trees that needed to be cut down in order to expand the building)
and a set of amazing murals on the ceiling.
The library’s manager, Barbara Oakleaf, had written a detailed, well-researched piece on the library’s history, which was locked in a cabinet in the local history room. On the one hand, that’s great, because there it was, 6 years after it’s original publication, in perfect shape. On the other hand, few people had gotten a chance to read it since then. I took digital pictures, and will upload it here soon (I’m trying to figure out the most legible, most accessible way to do it.)
The library was busy, bustling. Indeed, we saw more people in the library than on the streets. Oakleaf told me that she had advocated strongly for the big picture windows in the newest section so that “people driving by can see that the lights are on and somebody’s home.”