Griggs County Library

Attempts to establish library services in Cooperstown began almost as soon as the town was founded.  Collections were found in many of the early homes.  Reading rooms were established for a period of time, and then discontinued.  Later the State Library sent out Traveling Library collections to be circulated.  In 1926 the Congregational Church had a collection.  For a time the Evangelical Lutheran Church maintained a small lending library in its basement.  This was a permanent collection and most of the books were donated.

Continuous public library service in Cooperstown dates back to 1944.  A group of interested women, realizing the need of a permanent service invited delegates from the men s and women's religious, civic, and fraternal organizations in the city to meet at the Windsor Hotel February 5, 1944 for the purpose of forming a library board.  Mrs. M. D. Westley explained the necessary procedure as outlined by Lillian B. Cook, of the State Library Commission.

The first board members were:

Mrs. M. D. Westley, Chairman

Mrs. Carl Johnson, Vice-chairman

Mrs. Pat Morrisey, Corresponding Secretary

Mr. E. E. Tracy, recording and financial secretary


Mr. George Reid of Central Light offered space in their building to house the library and the offer was accepted.  The first librarian was Mrs. Selmer Larson, followed by Mrs. William Barr.

As the library grew it needed more money for its operation.  In 1964 the library board requested and was granted an operating mill levy from the city.  At that time other changes in the organization were made to bring the library into conformity with state laws dealing with libraries.  A small grant was received from the State Library Commission to bring the collection up to standard.  This made the library eligible for grants and assistance under the Library Services and Construction Act.

Frieda Hatton and Nora Mohberg from the State Library Commission made several visits here to explain the LSCA and the processes for qualifying for aid in improving the library facilities.  Federal monies were available.  The board and SLC representatives appeared at the city council meetings to explain the procedure to them.  If the city library would sponsor a demonstration they would be eligible for funds to purchase a building.  The council gave its approval and voted to appropriate $10,000 toward a building.  In July of 1968 application was made for funds to the State Library Commission, and in August the demonstration was approved.  The funds in the amount of $13,000 were received from the state in November to supplement the $10,000 from the city to purchase the building (which formerly was used by the ASCS).  The library move was made the week of October 18, 1968.  The multi-county demonstration began in 1969 and continued until 1971.

In July of 1971, the Griggs County Commissioners, upon presentation of petitions signed by 51% of the qualified voters of Griggs County, levied a tax of I mill for county library support.  The new library was known as Prairie Bookmobile Library.  Prior to this any county library service was furnished by the city of Cooperstown on a limited basis.  From this time on the library collection and services have grown rapidly.  The two libraries operated as separate units until the spring of 1975 when they combined their facilities to form the Griggs County Library.

An indication of the growth of the library is seen in the increase in circulation and the hours open to the public as shown by the following: Circulation:


1946 493 books loaned
1954 2,990     "         "
1964 7,674     "         "
1974 21,331     "         "
1980 40,469     "         "

The hours the central Library is open for service have increased from 2-3 hours a week to the present schedule of 42 hours a week (seven hours a day, six days a week).  A bookmobile serves the rural area.

The board chairman since the library's origin have been:


Mrs. M.D. Westley 1944-1950
Mrs. Editha Holter 1950-1952
Mrs. J.O. Fredrickson 1952-1963
Mrs. Hamlin Saxerud 1963-1967
Mrs. G.J. Frigaard 1967-1968
Mrs. Lester Winning, Sr. 1968-1969
Mrs. Peter W. Patton 1969-1971
Mrs. G.J. Frigaard 1971-1975
Mrs. Donald Larson 1975-1976
Orville Tranby 1976-1979
Mrs. Torrey Berge 1979-1980
L.C. Larson 1980-1981
Mark Lunde 1981-

Librarians who have served the library are:

Mrs. Selmer Larson

Mrs. William Barr

Mrs. S. L. Lemna

Mrs. John Edward Erickson

Mrs. Allen Larson

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 229

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