“I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books, to be lent to the people of the county under regulations as would secure their safe return in due time.”
Thomas Jefferson – Letter to John Wyche, 1809.
What a brilliant idea Jefferson had in 1809, that came to fruition in Jamestown, North Dakota in 1919. He would be proud of this tribute to the growth of the country he loved. And, he would be the first to say that times have changed and it is time for the Alfred Dickey Free Public Library and the Stutsman County Library to exist under one roof as the James River Valley Library System, serving all residents of Stutsman County for the next three generations. Please help us make this vision a reality. Jefferson would say, "Good for you."
Stutsman County covers 2,298 square miles with a population of 20,934, expected to surpass 25,000 within the next fifteen years. Economy is agriculture driven with some of the best farmland in the United
States. The county seat, Jamestown, has a population of 15,427. It is centrally located at the intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway 281. There are 2,292 k-12 students in Jamestown and another 506 in the county schools. The University of Jamestown has an enrollment of 1,000 students from around the world.
The James River Valley Library System plays a vital role as a center of community learning, literacy, and activity. There is rising demand for school information, job searches , health information, the latest literature, how to use the internet, using the internet. A single class room is in constant use by
local agencies and patrons for classes and discussion groups. The balance of traditional media with e-books, e-readers and tablets is changing daily.
All of these demands are being met by a city library built in 1919 for a population of 6,627 and book stacks housing 7,000 books and a county library, home to the Book Mobile, that opened in 1953 with 2,500 books.
Today the two libraries house 101,501 items that include over 14,000 e-books. The Bookmobile travels to 11 county locations and 13 city locations serving populations that cannot reach the downtown library. Rural schools and residents rely heavily on the Bookmobile for the latest literature and research information.
Jamestown and Stutsman County are growing and shifting as a result of new technology and oil. Population forecasts bring Stutsman County to over 25,000 over the next fifteen years.
There is a great opportunity for all residents of Stutsman County to benefit from these dynamic changes. The library’s role calls for an easily accessible, flexible facility, built for the future, serving all residents in the tradition of free public libraries.
The renovated and expanded 25,500 sq. ft. facility honors the past through the renovation of the J.A. Shannon designed Alfred Dickey Library and recognizes the evolving future of e-publications and community needs for expanded meeting spaces through expansion to the north.
The new library will revitalize downtown Jamestown while bringing the city and county libraries under one roof and giving a new home to the bookmobile.
The new library will provide space and mentoring staff for a broad selection of community activities that meet the informational and educational needs of its patrons in both formal and informal atmospheres.
These activities start with pre-school storytimes, move through internet use and e-reader classes to how to research education opportunities, conduct a job search, find the best doctor, plan for retirement. Areas will be available for author appearances, book club discussions and community classes ranging from health care to local politics.
The library will be a place where all people are given the information necessary to build an economic foundation for themselves and their families.
It will give all the residents of Stutsman County a place where they are informed about local, state, national and international issues. It will be a place to help solve many of the problems associated with growth and change.
The use of social media to connect and contribute is encouraged and the means to participate in social engagement will be provided for all patrons.
There is an information avalanche created by the internet and e-technology. In North Dakota, combine that with the rapid migration of industry and people following their dreams, and the future can be what we want it to be.
It is essential that the library role as the great equalizer, giving all patrons equal access to information, remains at the forefront of this change. This can only happen with the building of a new library that gives all patrons equal access to the information that provides opportunity for economic, civic and social participation.
A small community can be easily isolated and look inwards and to the past as “good enough.” It can also be a vibrant, healthy community looking to the future. This library can be a template for future rural centers of communication and learning. Help us get there.