Mt. Pleasant Library 100 years old; centennial events set for this month
PLEASANT—One hundred years is a milestone to be celebrated—and that’s just what Mt. Pleasant is doing this month as the city celebrates the public library’s centennial.
The library opened in 1917, one of 2,509 libraries made possible through the generosity of the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie between 1883 and 1919.
“We wanted to celebrate the centennial and make people aware of and appreciate the library they have,” Laurie Hansen, the city’s librarian, said. “We’re one of the ones still standing, and it’s been 100 years.”
It began all that time ago with the Mt. Pleasant Library Literary Club, which maintained a small book collection and had long been looking for a permanent home for its books.
The Carnegie Foundation—or, more properly, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching— promised $10,000 to the club as long as the community demonstrated the need for a library, provided the land and enacted a tax to raise $1,000 to provide for a librarian and the purchase of new books.
“In bestowing charity, the main consideration should be to help those who help themselves,” Carnegie said at the time.
Libraries were of utmost importance to Carnegie, who had said, “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”
The Mt. Pleasant Library is now just one of 10 of 23 original Carnegie libraries in Utah still operating today as a functioning library. In fact, Sanpete County is home to three of those 10—Mt. Pleasant, Ephraim and Manti.
The library is an impressive building even today.
Its 4,000 square feet hold more than 32,000 titles: books, audiobooks, movies, music CDs and magazines. It has an annual circulation of 62,000. There are 13 public computer terminals with Internet access, along with services for printing, copying, faxing and test proctoring.
The building was renovated in 2011 with funding provided by the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, Utah Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Utah Division of State History, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area and local sources.
Library officials chose the Fourth of July holiday to honor the centennial. From the parade that morning, volunteers on a parade float dispensed wooden commemorative nickels that children could redeem at the library for old-fashioned lollipops.
The float itself was a scaled model of the Mt. Pleasant Library, and was constructed by Dave Fullmer and painted by Jason Quinn. (If you missed it in Mt. Pleasant’s Hub City Days parade, you can still see the float in the Spring City and Fairview parades on July 24.)
In addition to an annual book sale put on by the Friends of the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, the library invited visitors to view displays highlighting the building’s 100 years, along with a photo booth where they could dress up in period costumes and get sepia-colored photos. Featured prominently among the displays was an oil painting of the library by Spring City artist Ken Baxter.
The celebration will continue over the next several weeks. The public will be able to see Baxter’s painting and several of the other displays through the summer
The library is planning a chess tournament for August, along with an old-fashioned game day for the children.
Librarian Hansen says they’ll have several games from the past “that kids used to play before video games came along,” including sack races, three-legged races, kick the can, pick-up sticks, Tiddlywinks, checkers, marbles and jacks. Dates have not yet been set, so contact the library for more information.