Read any good books lately? This past November, the Cedaredge Women's Literary Club (CWLC) celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Organized in 1910 by a small group of local ladies, the stated mission then was to "stimulate intellectual and moral development, and promote good fellowship among its members." Fourteen people (seven men and seven women) took part in the first meeting.
The century plus history of the CWLC is inextricably linked with the 100 year history of the Cedaredge Public Library. Within the first year of being organized, the ladies realized that the Town of Cedaredge needed a library. According to the club's archived minutes, in 1911 the ladies accepted a box of books from a traveling library in Denver, leading to the early establishment of a library for the Town of Cedaredge. Four years later, using money collected from dues and donations, the CWLC purchased 150 new books. By 1916, with donations from outside benefactors, the library boasted of more than 800 books, and with no permanent home, the library was moved from one place or one member's home to another.
In 1933 the library moved to the Cedaredge High School with the club providing $3.00 per month for upkeep. The required reading list of CHS became the club's first priority when ordering new books. But this arrangement only lasted for a few months before the library was returned to a member's home. In 1936 the library moved to the Town Hall. Boy Scouts built the book cases needed to hold the books.
Part-time librarians were paid with club dues, the sale of library cards and fund raising activities, but money was always a problem. To keep their dream of a library alive, the ladies sponsored concerts, card parties, vanishing teas, tag days, held bake sales, put on plays, paid dues, accepted donations and even manned a booth at the Delta County Fair. A grant application was sent out to the Carnegie Foundation, but there is no record that the grant was ever received. At one point, there was even a proposal to "drop" the library.
Thankfully, the ladies refused to give up their dream, and in 1956 the old fire truck garage at the Town Hall was converted into "a small but clean and attractive room" to house the library. After forty years of moving the library from one home to another, the ladies had finally found a "permanent" home for the library.
The CWLC's association with the Cedaredge High School (CHS) senior girls has its roots in the club's portable library. They hired the senior girls to work as library assistants; organizing books according to the Dewey Decimal System; typing book information on 3x5 cards for the library's card catalog file; checking books in and out and answering numerous questions from library users. The first "Senior Tea" was held on April 18, 1951, in appreciation for the girls help. In 2005, the CHS senior boys were invited to join with CWLC members and the CHS senior girls for the annual (now a luncheon) event. The first year only one young man attended, but gradually that number has increased to include the entire senior class.
And although their first order of business was always the library, the CWLC also donated a large amount of cash to build the school auditorium, sponsored local students to take part in band competitions, sent gifts and food to the State Home for children in Grand Junction each Christmas, initiated an annual Christmas party for the residents of Horizons Nursing Home and sponsored card writing campaigns to local service men serving overseas. The ladies also petitioned for a public bathroom in Cedaredge. Gifts of food and money were sent to the Veterans Hospital in Grand Junction. Money raised from craft and bake sales was used to send girl scouts to a summer outing and Brownie troops were sponsored by the club.
The ladies also realized that in order to continue with the library, they would need help and a lot more money than was currently available. They decided to pursue the possibility of making the Cedaredge Library a public library and notified the mayor of their decision. And in 1968 the library was accepted into the State library system, paving the way for grant monies. By 1976 county sales tax money was being shared with the library as well as revenue sharing from the county commissioners. Funds to maintain the library were also being received from federal and other grants. In 1977 the CWLC hosted the first library used book sale on the steps of Town Hall during the Cedaredge Harvest Festival, raising $54. (Harvest Festival became AppleFest in 1978).
In 1980 discussions regarding a proposed mill levy was in full swing. In club's minutes, dated Oct. 15, 1980, CWLC secretary Ruth Bruhn wrote, "A proposed mill levy for libraries was discussed. The county commissioners can legally extend the library boundaries to include the school district. To make this possible, two interested government entities are needed — the school board and county commissioners fulfill this requirement."
At the time, librarian Betty Worley said she was hoping for cooperation between the public and school libraries. "It is possible," said Betty, "if the mill levy is accepted, the salaries of school and public librarians will be upgraded and budget increases will make it possible to increase the hours the libraries are open." The library remained housed at the town hall until June of 1982, when it was moved into a 1600 square foot room in the newly constructed Cedaredge Community Center.
According to an article in the June 10, 1982 issue of the Delta County Independent, "About 10,000 books were moved to the new location. About 8,000 volumes are catalogued and the rest are paperbacks and there are several years of National Geographics. Most of the women who helped move the books are members of the Cedaredge Women's Literary Club who sponsored the library for many years." From that point on, the library continued to grow. Music, language, civil service exam and religious audio tapes were available for a rental of twenty-five cents.
1983 saw the birth of the "Friends of the Cedaredge Library," an organization formed to help the library, both financially and with projects. In 1984 the FOL officially took over the book sale at AppleFest, raising $139.00. The CWLC continues their fundraising efforts and half of their dues are donated each year to the FOL to help support the library.
In 1995 the library had 8,000 books on hand, with over 3,000 books and periodicals checked out over the past year. Services provided by the library continued to grow and computers became an important library tool. In May, 1993, the library had one computer available to the public. By the spring of 1998 the number of online public access computers, had grown to five. Today there are twelve.
With land and funding for a new building donated by Don and Inez Petersen, Gayle and Keith Butler and Robert and Betty Anderson, construction on the new library began in March, 1996 and, with the opening of the doors to the public on Oct. 22, 1996, the ladies finally realized their dream. The formal dedication of the Cedaredge Public Library took place on April 14, 1997. With the help and support of the entire community, a permanent home for the Cedaredge Public Library had finally come to fruition. According to Rhonda Duclo, former Cedaredge Public Library manager, every library in Delta County got its start from ladies groups like the CWLC.
With a passion for books, the CWLC's commitment to help with the care and maintenance of the Cedaredge Public Library continues. Their focus is now on sponsoring the establishment of a Colorado History reading room, to be located in the library. Under the guidance and leadership of president Susan Triebwasser, vice president Sue Meyer and secretary/treasurer Karen Richardson, the club membership continues to thrive with 28 active members and five honorary members.
This feature on the CWLC and the Cedaredge Public Library was compiled and gleaned from various newspaper articles, archived minutes and an informal history of the CWLC, "Fifty Years in Review," compiled by Nita H. Young.blog comments powered by Disqus