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The Teton County Library

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A History of Teton County Library

Landmarks & Brief History of Teton County Library

May 1915: St. John’s Community Library opened its doors in St. John’s House in Jackson for paying patrons.
January 8, 1938: Teton County Library opened a public library in a room in the American Legion Hall.
Summer 1940: Teton County Library moved to and opened the log cabin library in downtown Jackson. It occupied this space for 56+ years.
December 1990: “Space Needs Assessment” recommends a 23,500 -25,000 square foot library be planned.
April 1991: Library Board purchased 3.7 acres of land; Private fundraising supplied $400,000 for the purchase
November 1992: Will Bruder was chosen as the architect for the project.
August 1994: The Capital Facilities Tax, provided funding for the planning, construction, and equipping of the new 24,000 square foot library.
September 1997: Teton County Library at 125 Virginian Lane was opened.
February 2007: Aaron Cohen Associates “Master Facility Plan” recommends the addition of 22,000 square feet to the library.
August 2008: Voters approve the library’s initial proposition on the Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) ballot which asked for $1.5 million for the planning, design, engineering and initial construction costs of an 11,000 square foot addition and renovation to the main library facility at 125 Virginian Lane.
September 2009: Gilday Architects with Humphries/Poli Architects chosen for the project.
August 2010: Voters approved the library’s second Specific Purpose Excise Tax proposition of $8.45 million for the actual construction of the addition and renovation.
March 2011: GE Johnson selected as Construction Manager for the project.
July 2012: New Youth Wing opens with new Teen & Children’s areas.
January 2013: Library Addition and Renovation Project Complete. Main Wing renovation and Public Art installation complete.
September 2013: Teton County Library received Gold LEED status.

The valley’s library tradition goes back as far as May, 1915 when St. John’s Public Library opened its doors in St. John’s House in Jackson. With an initial membership of $1.00 and an annual fee of 50 cents, a paying patron could choose from a collection of more than 600 volumes. Years later, the hard work and inspiration of three valley women sowed the seeds for the Teton County Library. Helen Benson, Edith Mercill and Stella Weston began selling subscriptions for a lending library in the 1930s, but they were soon overwhelmed by the needs of the community. County Commissioners appointed the first Library Board, consisting of Benson, Mercill, Weston, Hattie Erzinger and Charles Kratzer. Teton County Library opened on January 8, 1938, in a room in the American Legion Hall. The board also hired its first librarian Juliane Tanner from Laramie, Wyoming.

In 1937, Dr. Charles Huff, a beloved physician in Jackson, died, and the community raised a substantial fund in his memory. First, the money was going to fund a fountain in the city park, but at the suggestion of Mildred Buchenroth, Chairman of the Fund, and with the agreement of the people, the money was allocated for construction of the log cabin library. Paul Colboron, a New York Architect who summered in Jackson Hole, donated the plans. The log building was erected and dedicated in the summer of 1940. At the time, the Library Board included Mardy Murie and the young Episcopal Rector, Walt McNeal.

This log building served as the location of Teton County Library for 56 plus years and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As far back as the late 1980s the Library Board was aware of the growing need to expand the Library. In December of 1990, the Board hired professional library planners to conduct a “Space Needs Assessment” which recommended that a new library be planned that was 23,500 to 25,000 square feet with room for expansion.

In April of 1991, the Library Board purchased 3.7 acres of land from Gene Brown. Private fund-raising supplied more than $400,000 for the purchase of the land. The site was an excellent location for the new library.

In November of 1992, Will Bruder was chosen as the architect for the project. The Capital Facilities Tax, which would provide funding for the planning, construction, and equipping of the new 24,000 square foot library, was passed on August 16, 1994. The library at 125 Virginian Lane opened in September of 1997. Patron use and content of the library steadily grew, and in 2005 the library contained just more than 104,00 materials, including books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, magazines and electronic databases. A space needs assessment was conducted, and an addition recommended.

Voters Approve

In August 2008, voters approved the library’s initial proposition on the Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) ballot which asked for $1.5 million for the planning, design, engineering and initial construction costs of an addition to the main library facility at 125 Virginian Lane. Then in August 2010, voters approved the library’s second Specific Purpose Excise Tax proposition of $8.45 million for the actual construction of the addition and renovation.

Library Addition & Renovation Project
The voter-approved library project includes an 11,000-square-foot addition and renovation of the previous 24,000-square-foot building, parking lot and outdoor areas. The building project has created more space for reading and study, computers and technology, community meeting rooms, and dedicated teen and children’s areas, which are separated from quieter library spaces. We planned for Silver LEED certification. The library’s existing electrical, data and building systems were replaced, upgraded and modernized. Architects on the project were Gilday Architects with Humphries/Poli Architects, and Construction Manager was GE Johnson.

Teton County Library is a county agency whose board is appointed by the Teton County Commissioners. Primary funding for the library is through county property taxes. Teton County Library Foundation provides supplemental funds through patron donations and grants. Teton County Library Friends contribute a wide range of volunteer services in support of the library’s programs and operations.