History of the Logan Library
A short history of the Logan Library
Early libraries in Logan were located in two institutions of higher learning: Brigham Young College (founded in 1877) and Utah Agricultural College (founded in 1888 and now Utah State University). Efforts for a public library began soon after the turn of the 20th Century. St. John's Episcopal Church opened a reading room for their parishioners in 1906, and the Cache Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also had a reading room as early as 1912.1
It was understood, however, that these efforts were insufficient. On the 18th of April, 1916, George Thomas, W.R. Owen, and H.E. Hatch appeared before the Logan City Board of Commissioners with a petition to "establish and maintain a public library and reading room", which was approved.2
The Logan Library Board members were selected in June 1916, and these members began work to find a location for the new library. Early efforts failed to find the funding to construct a new building, so the library's first home was in the Cache Stake House on East 100 North, across the street from the Tabernacle. Mae Hansen was hired as the first librarian in the summer of 1917.3 The library offerings were made up of both the LDS and Episcopal reading room collections.4
Some members of the Logan Library Board traveled to Salt Lake City in 1919 to add their voices in support of the county library movement. When Masters House Bill #97 passed, a Cache County Library Board was formed in July 1919. Sometime in 1920, the library moved to a building located on West 100 North, owned by H.J. Dewitt.5 Although this rented space was larger, it was inadequate because of the age and condition of the property. Around this time, a new librarian named Dora Wright was hired. By October 1920, Cache County and the City of Logan were jointly operating the library, and together held the goal of erecting a library building in Logan.6
During the 1920s, it seems that every available piece of property, either for rent or sale in Logan, was examined by the library site committee. Finally, ground located at 90 North 100 East was purchased from the Preston family. Designed by architect Leslie Hodgson7 and built at a cost of $32,172.50, the library building was dedicated on the 3rd of February 1932. The site and construction costs were heavily subsidized by various donations from the community.8
During the years preceding the construction of the library building, there were recurrent disagreements between Cache County and the City of Logan. Now questions arose on funding levels for the two government bodies and ownership of the building and collections. In August 1933, an inter-local agreement was drawn up that gave joint ownership of the building and collections equally to both. Additionally, the library would be funded by both equally. This contract was to be in force for 25 years.9
In the summer of 1944, Dora Wright, who had been the librarian for twenty-five years, resigned. In her place, Virginia Hanson was hired as the head librarian. Although public funding during the Depression years was sporadic, there were consistent efforts to gather funds from alternative sources. Community groups and individuals donated library furnishings and money for books, which totaled many thousands of dollars. One especially generous donor was L. Boyd Hatch, who donated an average of $500 each year in memory of his parents until his death in 1957.10
Donated funds did not address the issue of ongoing building maintenance and remodeling needs. During the 1950s, the Library Board minutes are replete with issues such as leaks in the roof, poor lighting, furnace problems, leaky pipes, and crowded shelves. Volunteer effort was sought out whenever possible, such as Logan City firemen repainting the walls in the library occasionally. Public funds needed to keep the building in good repair were sporadic. In 1950 alone, it was noted that Cache County underfunded the library by over $1,500.11
The ongoing issues of funding and maintenance of the building do not seem to have affected library use by its patrons. In 1921, the first year records were kept, there were a total of 38,178 items checked out. By 1970, the number had climbed to 109,797. This amounted to the circulation nearly tripling while the population had only doubled during the same 50-year period.12 Additionally, the Library Board minutes are filled with various requests by groups wanting to use space in the library. By the 1970s, the library had become a social hub in the community. This period of growth saw the hiring of a new director, George Boeck, when Virginia Hanson retired in July, 197313, but George did not stay long and Judith MacMahon became the library director in 1974.
Questions arose in November 1974, about the appropriateness of the genealogy section of the library, staffed by volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In January 1975, the genealogical library and all of its services were relocated to the Logan LDS Tabernacle basement.14
Continuance of the inter-local agreement between Cache County and the City of Logan became a serious debate in 1976. Multiple options were considered, but in January 1977, Cache County ceased to fund the library and gave up its interest in the library in exchange for seven years of unfunded library service to Cache County residents.15 At that time, the name of the library was changed to The Logan Library. Since March 1983, non-Logan residents have been charged for library cards.16
In 1981, Ronald K. Jenkins became the library director. Soon after being hired, he began to make city officials aware of just how busy the library was. He fondly remembers giving a tour to an elected official who expressed amazement at the number of books and other materials being checked out. Jenkins also remembers that on several occasions parents would wait by the desk and simply exchange children's books. Neither cared what titles they were receiving because there were literally no children's books on the shelf! These and other circumstances lent support to Jenkins when he began asking for a new library building and increased library funding.17
Logan City/Library Building
Renovation began in June 1983, on a mixed-use building18 at 255 North Main Street that would house a new library facility.19 It was opened to the public at this location in December 1985, sharing the building with Logan City Hall.20
In 1988, Bridgerland Literacy, a service for residents of Cache Valley who struggle with basic reading skills, began operating in the library. Over the years, it received various awards for its service to the community. In 2010, Bridgerland Literacy moved to a new home at Bridgerland Applied Technology College.
In 1991, the library was given its own dedicated tax levy which has resulted in a more stable source of funding since that time.21
255 North Main
Circulation of library materials has continued to climb. In 1990, the library checked out 342,667 items for the year, over three times the circulation of 1970 when the population had only grown half again as large.22 In 2010, the circulation had climbed to 970,446, nearly three times that of 1990 when the population had again only grown half again as large.23 The intervening years saw an increase in nearly every other measurable service offered by the library.
In July 2009, Logan City moved out of the mixed-use building it had shared with the library since 1985. The library then expanded into much of the vacated space.
In August 2011, Ronald Jenkins retired after serving over thirty years as director of the Logan Library. A search of candidates for his replacement led the library board to hire Robert Shupe, who had been serving as the director of the library system in Mohave County, Arizona.
In December 2012, the library reached a milestone that is emblematic of its continued effort to serve and enrich the lives of community members: the library checked out more than one million items during that previous year.
On April 18, 2015, the library began to celebrate its centennial year with a special event in the library. The event included various dignitaries in attendance and the presentation of a special piece of music created by library employee, Robby Linton. This event was followed by monthly events which highlighted each decade the library has been in operation. Many hundreds of individuals enjoyed the various centennial activities, culminating on April 18, 2016, when the library celebrated the actual centennial day. The library was even congratulated by Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah, with a special video message.
On July 18, 2017, Karen Clark, assistant director for the previous 8 years, was selected to be the next director of the library.
In December 2021, library staff and operations moved out of their home for the previous 36 years and into a temporary location at the City of Logan Service Center. This was done to make way for the construction of a new, three-story library on the site which is due to be completed in the summer of 2023.
Timeline of the Logan Library
- Hatch, Anne C. A History of the Library Serving Cache County, Utah. 1973, page 1.
- "Council Minutes. Municipal Council of the City of Logan", Book G, page 743.
- Hatch, page 2.
- Christensen, Vera. "Library's Roots Can Be Traced to a Reading Room in 1906". Logan Public Library (a Newspaper Insert). Herald Journal, May 5, 1985, page 2.
- The DeWitt Building used to stand just west of Cache Valley Bank on 100 North. Interestingly, the Cache Valley Mortgage Building, which stands just north of Cache Valley Bank, was constructed to look like the old DeWitt Building. A.N. Sorensen, a long-time library board member, remembered the Dewitt Building space as "a dungeon".
- Hatch, pages 3-5.
- Christensen, page 2.
- Hatch, pages 6-9.
- Hatch, page 11.
- Hatch, pages 12-17.
- Hatch, pages 18-19.
- "Statistical Annual Report to the Utah State Library", 1921-current.
- Virginia Hanson served the library community for 29 years. This was a record for the Logan Library until Ron Jenkins retired in 2011, having served for just over 30 years.
- Godfrey, Kenneth W. Logan, Utah: A One Hundred Fifty Year History. Exemplar Press, 2010, page 333.
- Anderson, Joseph N. "The Devil is in the Details". 2008.
- "The Herald-Journal Newspaper".
- Conversations with Ron Jenkins.
- The building had most recently housed a Sears Department Store but originally was constructed in 1927 as the Palais D'Or Dance Hall.
- "The Herald-Journal Newspaper".
- Christensen, Vera A. Logan, Cache, Utah: A Place in Time. Providence, UT: Keith W. Watkins and Sons, Inc., 1989, 24-27.
- "The Herald-Journal Newspaper".
- "Statistical Annual Report", 1990.
- "Statistical Annual Report", 2010.