About an hour southeast of Grand Teton National Park awaits an extraordinary surprise. Situated in a bucolic valley, Dubois is a real cowboy town with wooden sidewalks and arches made of antlers. There’s a lovely walk along the roaring Wind River that shows off the stunning red and white escarpments so reminiscent of the Badlands in neighboring South Dakota. A few thousand people live here in summer, but the year round population is significantly smaller perhaps because, like much of Wyoming, winter can be brutal.
Originally known as Never Sweat, the post office rejected this evocative name and renamed them for an out of state senator. In protest, townsfolk started pronouncing the name as “du boys.”
Ironically, the Dubois Library, is definitely made “of (the) wood.” Surrounded by split rail fencing the stone columns pay homage to the amazing rock in the vicinity. There’s a wonderful view from the al fresco seating – anyone can enjoy the sunset while checking their email here as the 24/7 wifi extends beyond the building’s confines.
Dubois is part of Fremont County Libraries, which serves 40,000+ people and has two other locations, Lander and Riverton. The county is about the size of New Jersey and is the second biggest one, by area, in the Rocky Mountain States. Well over an hour’s drive from the other two branches, Dubois provides a vital service to the region, especially in winter, when wind and snow can make driving a challenge.
The tiled lobby has pretty ranch furnishings and plants in one corner provide greenery. There’s a Friends of the Library book sale room, wire baskets with free books for young people, and a spindle used for paperback exchange.
Though just 6,000 square feet, the elevated ceiling, bolstered by gleaming knotty planks, and colorful stained glass windows, gives the facility the feel of a much bigger place.
Library assistant, Lisa Henery, was very friendly and informative.
She showed me the Activity Room, a well used space where they show movies and hold storytimes, programs, and public meetings. There’s a piano and screen (they are getting an LCD projector soon), as well as a storage space for the Friends (they also have two sheds out back). Unfortunately, when a man mistakenly drove his car into the building it destroyed the FOL cupboard. A big table flipped over, but thank goodness no one was using the room at the time.
There are several interesting displays – cases with old Wyoming history books and these panels with pictures from the Wyoming State Museum.
And one with a colorful assortment of buttons.
The branch has a variety of crafts, events and activities throughout the year. In conjunction with the adult summer reading program they are showing movies from around the world every Tuesday in August and offering recipes from foreign countries. A dog wash benefiting the Humane Society was coming up, and at Christmas time, they let parents drop their kids off for a movie so they could finish up the shopping and wrapping! The library clearly works well with other local entities, jointly sponsoring a musical evening with the Dubois Museum and hosting a display in Reference for the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center (the area has the largest herd of the ornery critters in the lower 48).
The children’s room was festively strewn with fantastical paper creatures – there’s obviously some artistic talent here. Mini furniture for the tiny tots shares space with a long drawing table and big stuffed animals. Like my two previous posts, Sheridan and Kalispell, they are doing the One World, Many Stories summer reading program too.
And someone is an inventive decorator. An attractive old card catalog holds brochures by the front desk and covering this chest with a table cloth really perks it up.
The spinning racks of the media aisle give way to a cozy little spot by a wood stove where charming rustic seating affords a view to the surrounding hills and mountains.
FCL offers graphic novels for teens, book discussions, downloadable books and a variety of databases including Culturegrams and Mango Languages. Like all Wyoming residents, patrons can borrow books from any public library in WY and they are checked in immediately wherever they are returned. They are getting self check and will be switching to a new PC reservations system soon (currently they use individual timing devices). Dubois has twelve public internet computers including six laptops and one in the kids’ section loaded with Magic Schoolbus programs.
How nice to find such a welcoming and gorgeous space bolstering community in this little hamlet.