Park City Library: Heart of the Community Since 1888
In September of 1888, the Park Record announced, “Miss Lizzie Barbee has been appointed librarian for the Ladies Library Association library.” Thus, the first library in Park City was born. Always a forward thinking community, Park City opened a library before Utah achieved statehood! This first library was housed in the basement of the Congregational Church with a grand total of 327 books and was open to all who wanted to use it.
By 1917, Park City flourished as a silver mining community, and the needs of the community grew. In August of 1917, two women presented the Mayor and City Council with a petition signed by more than 200 residents asking for a larger library, and that an annual tax be levied upon properties in Park City to pay for maintenance. A special election was held. The Park City community voted to support a new library.
The new library was established in a building adjoining City Hall on Main Street. Over the years, the library grew until the library housed over 5,000 books in addition to popular magazines and newspapers.
As the city grew, so did the need for more library services. In 1980, the community once again showed their support. A bond issue and private donations raised $800,000 to transform the old Miners Hospital into the new home of the Park City Library. To save money, volunteers from the community did the demolition work and lugged truckloads of debris to the dump. On September 6, 1982, a book brigade of over 750 Parkites passed approximately 5,000 volumes almost a mile from the former library on Main Street to the new library at Miners Hospital.
In less than ten years, Park City had outgrown its home in Miners Hospital. The Library Board set their sights on the old Park City High School (built in 1928) as a new location. Although the building had been abandoned since 1981, the board was certain the once proud building would provide the flexibility and space to serve the growing community. The campaign for the preservation of the high school resulted in the $2.5 million renovation. In 1993, the Park City Library and Education Center opened. Volunteers once again helped with the move, this time aided by boxes and trucks.
An expansion of the library in 2004 added a much-need additional 3300 square feet to the library, but in just six years it became clear that in order to serve a 21st century community, another expansion was needed. After many meetings between the Library Director, Library Board, and the Park City Council and Mayor, approval was given for an almost 10 million dollar of the entire building. This renovation included seismic retrofit to make the building safe during an earthquake, a high efficiency HVAC system, improvements to the roof, additional insulation, which resulted in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. When the newly renovated library re-opened on June 13, 2015, the Park City community was delighted to find a library rich in history but filled with 21st century technology: “smart” meeting rooms, new public computers, and most exciting, an innovative YouCreate Lab with 3-D printers, sound booth, video recording equipment and more. And once again on opening day, over a thousand Parkites formed a book brigade to pass books from the old to the new, symbolic of the library’s place in the heart of the community.
To find out more about Park City’s rich history, visit the Park City Museum