Our library actually started in 1896 with the personal collection of local attorney Frank Spickard. He made his books available to a young ladies’ literary club whose members loved reading.
Meanwhile, a few years earlier a wealthy Methodist had died in New York, and his estate donated 48 books to be used as a library in Pagosa Springs. On February 22, 1907, the collections merged and the Pagosa Springs Public Library opened in the basement of the Methodist Church.
At first the library was run by women volunteers. Then in February of 1910, the Woman’s Civic Club was formed. Its members – again, all volunteers -- took over operation of the library, which by then had a collection of 202 books. From 1910 until 1960, the Civic Club ran the library which, after residing in the church, moved to a log cabin and then to the town hall on the river.
In 1960, Civic Club members helped pay for a new town hall on the corner of Highway 160 and Lewis Street. In 1966, Archuleta County took over the library. But they had very little money so the library became a “line item” in the county budget, receiving minimal financial support.
Searching for a permanent home :
It remained the goal of the Civic Club to provide a permanent home for the library. Its members continued to give major support to the library, and donations were always important to keep the collection expanding.
In 1963, the Friends of the Library organization was formed to involve others with fundraising for a permanent facility. It was not until l983 that Lenore Bright was hired as our first full-time librarian. In 1985, the Upper San Juan Library District was formed to give the library a stable 1.5 mill levy funding base, and the county no longer provided funds for its operation.
On February 7, 1989 the library opened debt free on its current site, thanks to the Civic Club and Friends of the Library jointly raising more than $700,000 and Robert Lindner’s donation of the property. At Lindner’s request, it was named the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library after a long-time supporter who was a member of the library’s first Friends group and also a generous contributor.
Library expands in 2005 :
In 2005 the library completed a $600,000 expansion, entirely paid for with grants and individual donations saved over many years. Not a penny of increased local tax dollars went toward the new building, one of only a few libraries in Colorado to accomplish such a feat.
“All our books, programs and other materials are available free of charge to anyone with a library card,” said library director Jackie Welch. “And don’t forget that a library card is free as well!”
Welch said that virtually everyone knows books are available at a library -- in print as hard-cover or soft, as audio books on tape or CDs, or in large-type editions. Less well known, she pointed out, is the fact that about 80 different magazines and newspapers are available for borrowing, as are videos, DVD movies, music CDs and interlibrary loans.
There also are services for people with special needs, such as a machine that enlarges print material for those with eyesight problems and access to special books on tape for the disabled.
As well, the library’s computers are extremely popular, especially because they offer state-of-the-art computer services with filtering to ensure safe internet access.