Fifty years ago, the world was at our doorstep, celebrating the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and brimming with space age optimism. Boeing was flying high. Seattle appeared to be the capital of the world. And the 21st Century was a science fiction vision of wonder and anticipation. In the midst of that excitement and confidence, residents in Snohomish and Island County took a big leap into the future by unifying two county rural library districts into Sno-Isle Libraries.
Fifty years later, technology has evolved and many customer needs have changed. Yet, our two-county library district continues to be an essential community doorway to reading, resources and lifelong learning, as well as a center for people, ideas and culture.
So we're celebrating the millions of children and adults, over the past 50 years, who've benefitted from library early learning efforts for children and lifelong learning materials and classes for adults. Imagine how your children, grandchildren and community will benefit as Sno-Isle Libraries provides access to information, learning, entertainment, recreation, economic regeneration and promotes public dialogue opportunities, over the next 50 years.
1961 and earlier: Island County residents requested rural library service. Snohomish County Library officials worked with the Washington State Library, Island County, town and town library officials to respond to these requests.
At the time, approximately 19,477 people lived in Island County, and there were town libraries in Coupeville, Langley and Oak Harbor.
April 3, 1961: The Island County Library Demonstration project went into effect, when official word was received that the State Legislature had taken necessary actions to provide funds for the project.
April 19, 1961: Edward Jones, Chair of the Library Board and Emily Wilson, Executive Director of Snohomish County Library, applied for $57,854 in grant funds for a library demonstration project with Island County. Initial locations for service were in Coupeville, Langley, Oak Harbor, Freeland and Stanwood (on behalf of Camano Island residents).
October 1961: Community service and bookmobile service began.
December 1961: By the end of December, almost 800 adults and 758 children had become card-carrying library customers. And they had borrowed over 30,000 books, records and films within the first 3 months of service.
August 1962: By the end of the next August, over 125,000 items had been borrowed by more than 6,000 customers (about 1 in 3 Island County residents).
November 6, 1962: A vote passed for the formation of a rural library district in Island County. No voters residing in Island County towns were allowed to vote on the ballot question, only rural voters.
December 1962: Island and Snohomish County Councilmembers met and jointly formed an intercounty rural library district. Sno-Isle Regional Library became the name for the new two-county regional library district.
January 1963: A new board of trustees met for the first time, representing the entire two-county service area.
There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.