Holiday Closure

Please note that the Salt Lake County Archives will be CLOSED on Thursday, November 28, and Friday, November 29, in observance of Thanksgiving.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Lost House: Bingham Canyon

Salt Lake County Tax Photographs, serial 49-12.

These lost houses were located in Bingham Canyon, in the Oquirrh Mountain range on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Copperfield was one of the towns that existed in the canyon that has since been overtaken by the copper mine. This photograph was taken in 1938 by the Salt Lake County Assessor.

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Some of our (Current and Past) Library Branches

For the last entry in this series highlighting the history of the Salt Lake County Library System, we are featuring several libraries. It was difficult to choose from the many great library branches, but we decided to grant reader requests and also show the history of some of the old branches.

Starting with a library branch that many readers may be familiar with: East Mill Creek Library. This branch opened in 1949 as a wing of a new fire station. It was remodeled in 1959. As a history of the Library System printed in 1989 notes: “The architecture at the front of the building is wide because it originally housed the driveway for the fire engines.”

Salt Lake County Library System History Scrapbook, 1949-1957.
East Mill Creek. Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970.
Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970.
Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970.

A branch that you may not be as familiar with was the Arthur E. Peterson Library. The first Arthur E. Peterson branch opened in 1960 in a house on Sego Lily Drive in Sandy. Named after a member of the Library Board, the branch moved to a new building in December 1978 and operated until it was replaced in 1991 by the Sandy Library.

Branch on Sego Lily Drive. Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970.

Another library with humble beginnings was the Calvin S. Smith branch, named after the superintendent of the Granite School District who helped to establish the Library System. He also served on the library board for 20 years. The library started in a store front in 1943, and was moved in to a surplus World War II PX store in 1947. It operated there until a new site opened in 1956.

Calvin S. Smith Library in 1953, located in a surplus WWII PX store building. 51 East Miller Street. Salt Lake County Library System Scrapbook, 1949-1957.

Located in a canyon on the far western side of the Salt Lake Valley, the Bingham Library was started in the city hall in 1920 by the Women’s Civic Club. In 1939, the Salt Lake County Library System took over the library and in 1944 moved it to a large store building on Main Street in Bingham Canyon.

Salt Lake County Library System History Scrapbook, 1944.

Sources:

Campbell, Carolyn (1989) A Historical Retrospective of the Salt Lake County Library System in Celebration of Fifty Years of Public Service, 1939-1989.

Salt Lake County Library Scrapbooks, 1944-1959. Salt Lake County Archives.

Tyler, Ruth Vine. (1970) Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970.

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Serving the County’s Rural Areas: The Bookmobiles

Although no longer used by the Salt Lake County Library System, bookmobiles were an important part of the library’s history, serving areas that did not have a library branch. Suggested in 1947 by Ruth Vine Tyler, who cited their value in rural areas, the first bookmobile was put in to service in 1949. This bookmobile cost $7,000 and carried 2,500 volumes. The second bookmobile was acquired in 1954, and carried 3,000 volumes. A third bookmobile was purchased in 1957, and in 1959 a fourth bookmobile was added to the fleet.

Four bookmobiles circa 1958-1960. From a Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970.
Bookmobile stops from the Salt Lake County Library System Annual Report, 1949.

Although most bookmobile stops went smoothly, an official Salt Lake County Library System history recalled a particularly frightening event that occurred in 1953 during a bookmobile visit to Lark (now a ghost town west of Herriman):

Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970

According to a 1960 annual report, the “Salt Lake County Library System ran four bookmobiles in 1960. These vehicles stopped at approximately 115 locations each week and circulated almost 300,000 magazines and books.” In 1973, two mini-bookmobiles were added to the fleet.

With the continued building of more library branches throughout Salt Lake County, by 1989 only one bookmobile was in operation. This bookmobile made five stops a day, four days a week, and its route extended south to the Jordan narrows, west to Copperton, and east to Little Cottonwood Canyon. A bookmobile operated until at least 1993/1994.

Do you remember visiting any of these bookmobiles? Please leave a comment!

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Ruth Vine Tyler: Guiding the Destiny of the Library

The Head Librarian of the Salt Lake County Library System from 1938 to 1971 was Ruth Vine Tyler. Many of our readers may be familiar with the library branch in Midvale named in her honor. Although officially her title was always “Head Librarian,” she performed the duties of a director and is considered the first director of the library system. When she started at the newly created library system there were no dedicated funds, no salary, no library buildings, and no books.

Ruth Glade Vine was born in Salt Lake City in 1899, and married Wilfrid M. Tyler in 1919. She worked for around 17 years for the Salt Lake City Public Library before she was hired as the Head Librarian in 1938 by the Salt Lake County Library Board. As mentioned in our previous blog entry, she realized after being hired that there was no money to pay her salary or money for anything else, since no mill levy had been issued to provide funding for the new library system. The Library Board, led by superintendents from the Granite and Jordan school districts, arranged for her to work for the school libraries until funds became available in 1939.

Ruth Vine Tyler served as the heart of the creation, expansion, and vision of the library system for 33 years:

“The Head Librarian of the system is Ruth V. Tyler (Mrs. Wilfrid M.), appointed by the original board in 1938, who has guided the destiny of the services to date. She has been active in an advisory capacity in the Utah Congress of Parents and Teachers, the Adult Education Council of Greater Salt Lake, the Utah State Folklore Society, the American Library Association, the Mountain Plains Library Association, the Utah Library Association, of which she is past president and member of the Legislative Committee.”

Salt Lake County Library System Annual Report, 1964.

In addition to her extensive professional involvement, Ruth Vine Tyler also advanced her education by taking a year off (without pay but with help from a grant) in 1954 to study library science at UCLA, and traveled extensively, including touring the world during the entire summer of 1961 (again without pay). She was also a consistent proponent of educational opportunities for her staff, including repeatedly proposing to the library board that they should at least partially fund staff obtaining a Master’s degree in Library Science, but was always denied. She was also an advocate of obtaining additional benefits for library employees throughout her career.

Ruth Vine Tyler presenting to children. Salt Lake County Library System Scrapbook, 1943-1970

An interesting discovery in the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Correspondence demonstrates her dedication to library services (and provides a glimpse in to her personality):

Salt Lake County Attorney’s Correspondence, series AD-006.

When she retired in 1971, the Salt Lake County Library System had 62 full-time and 65 part-time employees, a headquarters building, 10 library branches, 4 bookmobiles, 4 deposit stations, services to 56 schools in the Granite and Jordan School Districts, story times for children, adult education programs, book lectures, and 120,359 registered patrons.

Salt Lake Tribune, 12-31-1971
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The County Library: Beginnings

The superintendents of the Granite and Jordan School Districts first proposed the idea of establishing a library system to the Salt Lake County Commission in 1938. By April of 1938, a library board had been established and their first meeting was held at the Salt Lake City and County building. After the first librarian, Ruth Vine Tyler, was hired, it was discovered that there was no money to actually run the library system or pay employees since a mill levy had not been issued. The superintendents subsequently paid the librarian to work for their school libraries until 1939, when funds from a mill levy were available.

By the middle of 1939, the library had “services established at twelve different points, mostly in school buildings, 4,175 borrowers were registered and the circulation totaled 43,691 articles loaned.” Huge advances had been made by December 1940, as by that time “the library operated out of 37 different agencies, had processed and owned over 33,600 books, had circulated, during 1940, 342,800 volumes and had in the the two years registered 14,736 patrons.”

During the early years, most of the library services were held within schools. The library built their own building (part library/part administration) in Midvale in 1940-1941, with the library paying for materials and the Work Projects Administration (WPA) doing the actual construction and supervision.

To quote Ruth Vine Tyler: “The county library has always recognized and enthusiastically participated in extension to various and sundry organizations within and outside of its own legal limits.” This included supplying books to: an organization operated by the American Legion and located at Camp Williams, to a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp in Big Cottonwood Canyon, a Methodist Community House at Carr Fork in Bingham Canyon, and also to inmates at the state prison. The library system also provided books and a librarian to the wounded World War II soldiers recuperating in the Camp Kearns hospital, and to the children at the County Hospital that were stricken with polio during the epidemic of 1944.

Story hours for children began in 1941, and audiovisual materials, including artwork, were added to the collections. The first bookmobile was purchased and put in to service in 1950 (more to come on the bookmobile fleet!).

By 1970, the library system had 62 full time and 65 part time employees. Besides their presence in schools and through the 4 bookmobiles, the library branches at that time included: East Mill Creek, Granger, Holladay, Kearns, Magna, A. E. Peterson, Sandy, C.S. Smith, South Salt Lake, and a branch named in honor of Ruth Vine Tyler.

Source: Salt Lake County Library System History, 1938-1970. Written by Ruth Vine Tyler, 1970.

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Utah Archives Month: 2019

It’s that time of year again! October is nationally recognized as Archives Month, drawing attention to the importance of archives across the United States. Utah’s theme this year is “Education in Utah” and there will be special events held by archives, including tours, exhibits, and conferences.

In a series of entries on this blog throughout October, we will be highlighting a collection received from the Salt Lake County Library System. These records are being digitized and will soon be browsable on our website.

The Salt Lake County Library System has documented their history through compiling scrapbooks and photographs since 1939. The archives has been lucky enough to have a retired librarian/branch manager volunteer her time to digitize this collection, which includes the years of 1939 through approximately 2004. Please stay tuned!

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