The West Fargo Public Library is celebrating 50 years of service. To commemorate 50 years, the library is hosting a public celebration event from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 10. This open house event will feature special guest speakers, a community art activity, a library history exhibit, refreshments, door prizes, free commemorative coffee mugs for attendees, and the opportunity for families to tour the Little Red Reading Bus and learn more about the library’s Summer Boost program. The all-ages activities are open to the public from 3 to 7 p.m. Speakers and refreshments will start at 5:30 p.m.
The West Fargo Public Library held its Grand Opening June 10, 1971 after a nearly 5-year campaign to establish the library, led by the West Fargo League of Women Voters. During this time, hundreds of businesses and community members expressed their support for a West Fargo library with over 1,000 petition signatures. At the time, the population of West Fargo was only 5,000.
Community support remains crucial to the library’s success today and is part of what is being celebrated at the library’s anniversary event.
“We are so excited to invite the public to celebrate 50 years of service with us,” Carissa Hansen, Library Director said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the library’s place in the community, reconnect with old friends, celebrate new partnerships, and have fun while highlighting the library’s many achievements and growth over the last 50 years.”
The library first opened with only 3650 books in the collection and 130 library cards were distributed the first day of service. When the library celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 1991, it had 45,000 items in its collection. Today, the library has nearly 150,000 items in the collection and according to the 2020 annual report, the library had 9,270 active cardholders last year.
“One constant at the library is change,” Hansen said. “Over the last 50 years, the library services have changed to meet the community’s changing needs.”
Changes in service also followed changes in technology over the years. In 1999, internet became available at the library. In 2003, the library transitioned from a traditional card catalog to an automated system. In 2008, the library was granted funding for the purchase of computers, and began offering databases filled with digital books and audiobooks. In 2018, the library upgraded its website. In 2020, the library relied on online resources and technologies like Zoom and Beanstack to offer all kinds of programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The library’s wi-fi signal was also expanded into the building’s parking lot for public use in 2020. Today, the library continues to offer dozens of online databases, digital books and media, access to public computers, wireless printing services, iPads and children’s tablets for checkout and hotspots for checkout..
Over the years, the library has become a community hub for much more than books, hosting thousands of workshops, speaker events, hobby clubs, and family engagement opportunities. Dating back to at least 1985, the library’s annual summer reading program, which has now been redesigned as Summer Boost, has been the most highly-anticipated event each year and has seen consistent growth. The program was originally only for West Fargo children in grades K – 6, who kept track of how many books they read in exchange for prizes. Today, Summer Boost incorporates challenges for all ages on an online reading and activity tracking system and dozens of public events both at the library and around town with the Little Red Reading Bus. This year, Summer Boost runs through July 31. Learn more at westfargolibrary.org/summerboost
More interesting facts, photos and data on the library’s achievements and growth will be on display at the library’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on June 10. This exhibit will remain on display at the library through the end of the year.
To learn more about the West Fargo Public Library 50th Anniversary Celebration, view the event on Facebook or the library’s website at westfargolibrary.org.