For 100 years, the town of Enumclaw has boasted a public library. On November 8, the proud community turned out to celebrate its milestone with tributes, memorabilia, crafts and lots of birthday cake!
Patrons of all ages turned out for the centennial event, honoring the community’s long commitment and recollecting the library’s early days, before it became part of the King County Library System in 2012.
Rich Elfers, Chair of the Enumclaw Library’s Advisory Board, a former teacher and City Council member, told the gathering that the library began with a modest collection provided by the town’s early settlers, Danish immigrants and Presbyterian Church members. The first library had 450 books in Danish.
Enumclaw’s first public library dates to 1923, following fundraising efforts by the local Parent-Teachers Association and Pre-School Circle. It was first located at City Hall, then moved to a home bequeathed by Mary Fell Stevenson Yerxa, wife of Enumclaw founder Frank Stevenson.
As Enumclaw grew, so did the library and the need for a new site. A 5,000-square-foot library opened in 1954, funded by a $20,000 bond issue. By 1990, another bond issue created a new library double in size—10,000 square feet. The current Enumclaw Library in downtown Enumclaw opened in 1991.
“We’ve come a long way since most books were in Danish,” Elfers said.
Centennial participants perused anniversary exhibits featuring historic information and memories, including newspaper articles and photos of girls wearing dresses, Boy Scouts in uniform and teens in letterman sweaters, all reading books.
Many filled out “Happy Birthday” notecards, responding to the question, “What is your favorite library memory?”
Recollections included “Finding a place of solitude and friendships;” “checking out lots of books with my mom when I was little,” and “free access to so many pages full of adventure; some for me and some to read aloud to my children.” Many touted the library as a place of “connection and conversations,” and for access to resources, technology and materials.
Resident Martha Blodgett added that the library “is so very important to this community; it enriches lives.”
Another resident, Jim Barchek, also recalled a time when the library responded to the needs of the Hispanic community, publicizing information in Spanish and expanding ESL classes.
“This library is incredibly important to the community; it’s a connection we can offer to all residents,” said Linda Eastwood, charter member of the Friends Group that formed in 2013. “The library offers so much to everyone, and there is nothing like having a book in your hands, to just tune into a story.”
KCLS Regional Manager David Wright told the gathering that support shown over the last 100 years “makes it clear that this community is invested in this public library, valuing intellectual freedom and the social good the library provides.”
And as one patron wrote in appreciation, “The library is a place full of imagination and inspiration!”