While visiting the gorgeous Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming –
– I got a chance to stop in at the Sheridan Fulmer Library location of the Sheridan County Public Library System. Just off the main drag in Sheridan (a neat little city with a thriving and bustling downtown – no franchises here), the library is quite large. Though Wyoming is the least populated state (the county only has about 27,000 residents), they are big readers and they take their libraries seriously. They seem to be well supported with great marketing campaigns that really capture the spirit of WY with a grand sense of humor (I’ve mentioned before that their bumper sticker “You can have my book when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.” is the only one on my car).
Situated in its own park, with lots of parking, outdoor benches, statues and shaded seating areas amidst lovely weeping birch trees and pretty xeriscaping, the library is right by another park complex. A big, recycling program box adds a convenient service and lovely arched fenestrations complement the mosaic art piece to the left of the entrance.
Once inside, the Read a Latte coffee shop looks like a good place to share local gossip, with its stained glass window allowing a view to the cool green landscape outside.
An eye-catching mosaic floor plaque honors the Friends of the Library’s efforts. They raise at least $40,000 each year via a fall auction and their ongoing book sale.
The main information desk is also right by the entrance. Library staffer Angel Mann was quite helpful with my many questions.
The building has a number of special features. This two sided fire place provides a warm place to hang out when the winter wind is blowing hard outside.
Sculptures, paintings, photos and display cases are scattered around. The black poles of the hanging symmetrical light features draw the eye to the ceiling arches and little reading areas by windows let you be next to nature without being subject to it.
I love the huge Wyoming Room. This local history area has moving shelves to add space, Wyoming realia, and plenty of room for researchers and browsers to spread out.
I realized I’d met Cameron Duff, the director, before. He’d been the director at Greeley, CO for a number of years prior to coming to bucolic Sheridan and we chatted for a bit. He told me they are getting into the publishing business and are doing a lot of digitization.
They’ve already published some titles including works from local authors. Proceeds go to the Wyoming Room and their next book is one on Ernest Hemingway (he wrote A Farewell to Arms while in the area).
Cameron also mentioned that they get good county support but also have the Sheridan County Library Foundation with two million dollars that adds $100,000 for capitol improvement campaigns each year to the Friends of the Library’s contributions (and the state does a two for one match for donations!). They are quite lucky that Sheridan is such a philanthropic county. Wyoming is a good place for library service though; any Wyoming resident can go to any public library and get a card there. Sheridan is a countywide system with four locations and people come from Montana to the Tongue River branch in Ranchester as it’s closer than the local MT library and SCPLS doesn’t even charge them.
There are lots of free art display spaces which are usually booked a year in advance. There’s a gallery upstairs.
And downstairs the Inner Circle performance area has tiered theatre style seating. The Circle of Light Photo Project adorning its walls is literally an eye opener. The Rocky Mountain Eye Bank asked cornea and sclera transplant patients to capture what they are most grateful to now be able to see – there are photos of beautiful landscapes, light and shadow play, and even a picture of someone shooting an arrow (that took almost 100 shots to get). Special glasses let you see how the patients saw these scenes before their surgery.
On the other side of the first floor, the Teen Central nook has cool fabric slung chairs and Manga.
The foyer to the Children’s Department is just magical, with mobiles, colorful cushy chairs reminiscent of building blocks and a bronze statue of Wilbur, my favorite pig, on a rock wall pedestal the maintenance man built.
There’s also a One World, Many Stories @ Your Library display case. Children’s programs for this series are grouped into categories of Mystery Fun, Safari Stories, Book Bunch, Book A Trip, Ticket to Adventure, plus crafts and other activities as well as paperback giveaways.
I wondered about the avian silhouettes high up on all the windows and Michelle, the Children’s Librarian, told me it stops real birds from flying into the glass and killing themselves which understandably upset the young patrons. She also showed me the “New Books” fire engine cart made by the local fire department.
Dinosaurs, dragons, plants and collectibles decorate the shelves and walls with stuffed animals, toys and a wood kitchen set strewn about. A door separates the multi level children’s theatre which unfortunately was in use so I couldn’t take a picture of this terrific space.
The location has 20 public internet computers including two for the children and four for teens plus wireless access. Downloadable audiobooks and other electronic resources are available as well as book club kits. There are computer classes and meeting rooms are available for the public to use for non commercial purposes.
The library seems to have everything – good resources, great infrastructure, a very friendly, knowledgeable staff, and a caring public that really values the System. What an asset for this beautiful and historic ranching and mining area in northern Wyoming.