Guest Editorial by Wyoming State Librarian, Lesley Boughton.
In 1882, John Hoyt, third governor of the territory of Wyoming, proposed that “a strong public library be established at the chief center of population in each county.”
Hoyt’s vision was embraced in 1886 when the legislature authorized the establishment of free county libraries. Local groups responded at once, and the Laramie County Library System, established that year, is believed to be the oldest county library in continuous operation in the United States.
Governor Hoyt would be pleased to see today’s robust and still growing Wyoming library community. All twenty-three counties have excellent libraries, not only at the chief center of population, but in fifty-two additional communities. New branches are being established in Thayne and Alpine. A wonderful new building is currently under construction in Cheyenne. Park County officials plan to include a large new library space in the renovated Marathon Building.
September is library card sign-up month. If you have and use your Wyoming library card you already take advantage of the marvelous resources available to Wyoming residents.
1. Wyoming is the only state where all libraries provide free public access to the Cochrane Library of evidence based information about the best standards of health care;
2. With a Wyoming library card you can download e-audiobooks to play on your desktop computer, laptop or portable listening device. These aren’t just for pleasure listening. Need help in mastering Mandarin Chinese? Modern Greek? You can get help with the study of more than 50 languages, from Albanian to Vietnamese, by downloading one of the Pimsleur language programs;
3. Anyone can log into a completely interactive platform of practice tests and tutorials on a variety of topics ? from the military’s ASVAB entrance tests to cosmetology and college entrance exams. Again, no charge!
4. Are you a genealogist? Your Wyoming libraries provide free access to HeritageQuest and AncestryPlus, giving you important tools in your search for your roots.
These and many other online databases funded by the Wyoming State Legislature, the Institute for Museum and Library Services or your local library are available in the library or at home, school and work ? wherever you go to connect.
And the resources are not just electronic. The 2006 Wyoming legislature appropriated ten million dollars to expand our libraries’ collections ? $4.3 million to the University of Wyoming libraries, $2.8 million to the community college libraries and $2.9 million to public libraries. Just think of the books, magazines, CDs and DVDs that will become available.
Librarians don’t just purchase materials; they create them, too. The State Library recently introduced the Wyoming Authors Wiki. Wiki is a Hawaiian word that means “quick”. It has been adopted to describe software that allows many people to contribute to a website. The Wyoming Authors Wiki [http://wiki.wyomingauthors.org/]
allows authors themselves to enter and update information about their own work and offers a chance for students, historians and readers to contribute to everyone’s knowledge of the state’s books and authors.
Did you know that 18 patents have been issued to inventors in Lusk from 1867 to date? Explore the Wyoming Inventors Database. [http://cowgirl.state.wy.us/inventors/] If you are a genealogist, you might want to attend Patents of Invention as Genealogical Resources presented by a librarian at the Genealogy and Family Heritage Jamboree (registration fee) Hitching Post Inn, Cheyenne, on October 21, 2006
The State Library, University of Wyoming Libraries, American Heritage Center, State Archives, the Wyoming Press Association and the Wyoming State Historical Society have formed a partnership to digitize and put Wyoming’s historic newspapers from1849-1922 online so that you can see and search the full text. Go to the project web page and get a list of all the papers that will be on-line in 2007. [http://wyonewspapers.org/]
Several states have paid for studies to demonstrate what we in Wyoming already know: every dollar invested in a library generates more than a fourfold return on investment. The School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina reported that total direct and indirect return on investment for every $1 expended on the state’s public libraries by SC state and local governments is $4.48 ? a return of almost 350%. A similar study in Florida concluded that Florida’s public libraries return at least $6.54 for every $1.00 invested from all sources Libraries are inviting places for reading, working and thinking. They offer space for community meetings and provide a wide range of programs, from children’s story times to teen poetry slams, book discussion groups, author visits and lecture and film series for all ages.
Wyoming libraries are bringing the world to Wyoming. If you don’t have a library card, get one! It is the best gift you can give yourself.