WYOMING — One of the smaller libraries in the county is about to celebrate a huge milestone as the Wyoming Free Library turns 90 years old this year.
John Roberts, director of the library for the past 13 years, said a celebration ceremony will take place Tuesday, Aug. 8 — the exact date of the anniversary.
“We should have (Senator John) Yudichak and (State Representative Aaron) Kaufer (R-Kingston) here and we’re hoping to have a memory box dedicated by the Wyoming Area Catholic Builders Club,” he said. “People can put items in the box and it’s in the process of being built. We’ll have that for the dedication.”
Roberts said people can put items in the box that represent different seasons of the year.
Over its 90-year period, the library has changed dramatically, both inside and outside.
Founded on Aug. 8, 1927, it was started by the Wyoming Women’s Club after taking notice of how many children’s books they sold during their annual sales.
“The Wyoming Women’s Group had rummage sales to support their own group and help the community,” said Colleen Garrison, president of the library’s board of trustees. “During one of the sales, they had some children’s books that went so quickly that these women got together, brainstormed and said they should have a library here.”
The group teamed with the Wyoming Rotary Club and the Businessmen’s Association to raise money towards the project.
The house in which the library was originally located was donated by Mrs. Kate Pettebone Dickson and it was situated next to the Methodist Episcopal Church on Wyoming Ave.
The money raised by the three groups purchased books and shelves.
In the early 1960s, the Wyoming Women’s Group disbanded and the Wyoming Free Library formed its board of trustees, which still oversees all activities today.
With the formation of the board came changes to the library, particularly to the exterior.
“In 1963, the very first board of trustees decided the library needed to expand,” Garrison said. “So, they demolished the original building and built what stands today with the exception of the community room and children’s room, which were both built in 2000.”
The current building opened in 1965.
With changes to the library’s looks came changes to what it offers on the inside. Due to the Internet and advancements in technology, it’s no longer a place where much research is done but various programs are offered such as LEGO Club, Summer Reading, Furry Tails Reading and much more.
Garrison knows firsthand how the library’s programs have benefited area residents, particularly children with the Furry Tails Program.
“It helped my son (Luke) who is allergic to dogs,” she said. “He was afraid of them because of his allergic reaction and I didn’t want to see him afraid of dogs, so when the program came up, I gradually got him into it and the woman who ran it was very good with him.”
Roberts has taken notice over the past several years about how the library has not only impacted residents in Wyoming, but all of Luzerne County.
“It’s just how the area has embraced the library,” he said. “We’ve had an influx of new families and people from all over Luzerne County who have used our facilities. It’s just not strictly people that live in Wyoming, or West Wyoming. We’ve had people from all over the United States come to visit.”
Garrison believes the library is a safe fallback for families needing a source of entertainment.
“I see the library as a safe place for anyone in the community to go in this day and age,” she said. “If you can’t afford to go to the mall or movie or have a large family, you can come to the library to take out movies or get an audio book. It’s a resource for people in the community who may have little else to rely on for entertainment and learning experiences.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher