Libraries in Fort Collins

The Carnegie Library as it looked in 2017. 

Initial Talk About Having a Library in Fort Collins

“Library And Reading Room.
“We understand steps are being taken to establish a reading room in Fort Collins. It is proposed, we believe, to procure a suitable room, furnish and fit it up in a good comfortable and pleasant manner, which shall be under the care and management of some proper person whose duty it will be to keep it at all times in order and see that it is lighted and warmed up every evening, especially, for the accommodation of all that desire to visit it. The desks are to be kept supplied with the principal daily newspapers of the state, a choice selection of eastern weeklies, magazines, periodicals &c. As fast as the society becomes able, books are to be added to its other attractions and thus form the nucleus of a permanent library. Such an institution in our midst would result in incalculable good and we hope no efforts will be spared to put it into successful operation.” (Fort Collins Courier, September 21, 1878)

“A Public Library
“Why may not Fort Collins have a Public Library and Reading Room? The establishment of such an institution in so small a community seems a heavy undertaking and yet if all those who are personally interested will give it a little time, a little attention and very little money it will be an easy matter to establish the nucleus of a respectable Library. Longmont, with a population less than that of our own town, supports a well regulated and well attended Reading Room, and the same thing may be done in any village in the state. Now a word to many of the better citizens of our town: You work for and talk for temperance reform; many of you would vote for laws prohibiting the sale of intoxicating drinks. Did you never think that more might be accomplished for the very same purpose by working in a different direction? “Why do you visit the saloons?” I said to a big good natured laboring man who, although he takes an occasional dram, is not a habitual drunkard. Being a New Jersey an by birth, Yankee-like, he answered me by asking another question: What places of interest are there in Collins?” He had reached the bottom of the whole affair.
“Furnish men a comfortable interesting place to pass their leisure hours and the list of inebriates will rapidly decrease. For the sake of the temperance cause I should rather have one well regulated reading room in a village than Francis Murphy himself. Well, then, let there be organized a Library Association with a small annual membership-fee. Let this association utilize all the home talent in the way of entertainments that they can get, provided always that it pays. Again in every intelligent community almost every man has a greater or less number of books which he has himself read and is willing to donate to such an institution. No doubt this would make a motley beginning, but better that than none. But above all if the ladies will take hold of the matter it can be made a success. I have in mind a village about equal in population with Fort Collins, in which the young ladies organized themselves into what is called a sun-bonnet Club. By dint of sociables, suppers, amatuer theatricals and lectures these girls, unaided, have, in a little more than two year time, worked up a fine little library of several hundred volumes. Let this or some better plan be pursued, and let all work in harmony, and within six months Fort Collins may have a comfortable reading room well supplied with papers and periodicals and the beginning of a library of which she may be proud. I can conceive of such a room being more congenial even to “loaf” in than any of our most respectable ‘gin-mills.’ SIMON SIKES.” (Fort Collins Courier, January 18, 1879)

“A few Words to “Simon Sikes.”
“I for one lady, second your motion for a library and reading room. I don’t know whether I am one of the F. F. Vs. of Collins or not, nevertheless will venture a few remarks upon the subject. You say we talk and work for temperance reform, &c. and we are informed that more might be done in a different direction. I agree with you there; but in this way; I believe the subject of intemperance will be settled only by arriving at a high standard of morality and goodness as a nation. But who made the liquor laws by which we are oppressed, by which innocent women and children suffer? Ah! “Simon,” James and Joh, put on “sack-cloth with ashes,” and confess that it was you. If your sex has had respect to one expression in in the Bible it is found in the latter part of the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of Genesis. There is no better proof of it than the present aspect of the liquor business. Now when you give us (the ladies) the same chance as yourselves to help bring about this high state of civilization I speak of, then will we take hold of your proposition. You made society really, as matters now stand, and it is full or rents and rips and you want the ladies to help mend it! We have cobbled along enough, I think in that way. If we are not capable of voting on moral questions, why, we will take a back seat and let the gentlemen go on with the reform suggested by “Simon Sikes.” (Fort Collins Courier, January 30, 1879) 

Reading Room installed in the back of the Presbyterian Church

The first Free Reading Room in Fort Collins was organized and operated by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W. C. T. U.) and got it’s start around February or March 1882 in the rear of the Presbyterian Church located at Linden and Walnut.

The Fort Collins Courier announced that a successful “Book Sociable” had been held in which guests donated books towards the cause of having a library. From the sounds of the article, a location was already in use, though it doesn’t say where the reading room was located. (Fort Collins Courier, March 2, 1882)

“Among the institutions of our little city none is more deserving of support than the reading room. Although the room is small and the library limited, yet not an evening goes by that does not find the room filled with young men.” (Fort Collins Courier, June 22, 1882)

“A Few Hints to Those Interested in Sustaining it. To the Editor of the Courier: “About ten months ago a free reading room was opened in the rear of the Presbyterian church, with as good a selection of books, papers and magazines as is generally found in such rooms, and far superior to many. It has been well patronized. Yet strange to say, there are some in our little city who do not know of such an institution. It is for those this article is written. It was, after a great deal of personal effort and hard work on the part of the ladies of the W. C. T. U., that this praiseworthy object was accomplished. Some said it would not last more than a month; the more liberal prolonged its life to three months. It still exists—lives—thrives. The patronage is such now that we need a larger room or rooms. Our business men say it is a good thing; just what is needed, and it must not be closed, etc. etc. Yet we fear they do not fully realize the extent of the responsibility resting upon the ladies, nor the hard work required of them in raising means to pay incidental expenses and keep it running. How little is put into the mite box which hangs at the door! Still, we do not propose to give up. By the increasing interest of those who frequent the room and by the constant addition to their numbers, and by a consciousness of the good that is being accomplished, we are encouraged to go forward. In selecting literature for the reading room the boys, the youths, were not forgotten. There are several excellent publications on the table, among them the Youth’s Companion, designed expressly for the young.
“Some of our books have been taken out and not returned. We expect, and must insist, that those who have been favored with loans of books from the reading room, will return them as soon as they are through with them. In no other way can we hope to preserve our library.
“The young men, middle-aged, the old, and especially the youth of our town, are cordially invited to visit the reading room, sit by its comfortable fire and enjoy a feast of intellectual good things provided. Here good influences alone surround you; your manhood will not be shocked by coarse, vulgar language or unseemly levity. Do not stay out in the cold or be led into saloons to spend your evenings, but on the contrary partake of our hospitality; not only once, but often, and our word for it, the smile of an approving conscience will amply compensate you if there is no other reward. COMMITTEE.” (Fort Collins Courier, December 14, 1882)

There’s mention of a two-year anniversary event being held by the W. C. T. U. on February 7 to celebrate the 2-year anniversary of the opening of the reading room. (Fort Collins Courier, February 7, 1884)

(Fort Collins Courier, June 8, 1882)

Free Reading Room moved to Colpitts’ Block

An announcement in the July 17, 1884 Fort Collins Courier stated that the free reading room had been moved to the Colpitts block nextdoor to city hall.