History of the

Dickinson Area Public Library

    The original planning of the Dickinson Free Library was begun in 1908 by the first library board consisting of John F. Davis, Dr. V. H Stickney, Father Robstenick, R.H.Johnson and W. L. Richards.  This original board, now known as the Dickinson Library Association, wrote to Andrew Carnegie proposing the building of the library with an original gift estimate of $15,000, further reduced to $12,500.  A library tax was submitted to the people of Dickinson on April 6, 1908 and passed by a vote of 576 to 140.  Butler & Soules was awarded the building contract for $9760 on October 29, 1908.  W.S. Russell drew up the plans and specifications.  On September 10, 1909, Josephine Hargrave was elected as the first librarian at a salary of $60 per month.  The library is located at the corner of 2nd Avenue West and 3rd Street.  The original book collection consisted of about 1000 volumes chiefly donated by the Commerical Club, the public schools from the community and other generous donations.  The library was opened for circulation on Monday, January 3, 1910.

Original Building 1908

   During the years 1910 to 1926, the library entertained various librarians who facilitated the library for short terms lasting from 1 to 4 1/2 years.  In 1926 Gertrude Voldal became the librarian, dedicating herself for 36 years, retiring on April 5, 1962.  In 1928 there were approximately 6700 volumes contained in the library.  When Miss Voldal resigned in 1962, there were approximately 21,000 volumes housed in the library.

   In April 1938 work began on the west wing addition—a WPA building project.  The plans were drafted by L.W.Veigel.  The project was completed in 1939.  Open house for the public was held in March 1940.  The cost of the new addition was $21,246.65; labor was furnished by the WPA and the cost of materials (approximately $7,900) was paid by the city.  The new wing is 20 by 40 feet with a full basement.  The main floor added to the adult space and the basement provided children’s space.  The original interior was also remodeled and redecorated with new floor covering and light fixtures in the remodel/addition project.

   In 1956, the library interior was redecorated.  There were approximately 19,000 volumes housed in the library at this time.

   An east addition was constructed in 1975 for $224,541, adding 5500 square feet of space.

   In 1986, the windows were replaced in the original building and WPA (west addition), along with the renovation of the existing basement meeting room.

   To better serve our rural patrons, it was decided that some sort of mobile library was in order.  In 1982, the Dickinson Eagles Aerie 2328 donated the first new bookmobile van.  Rural area routes were established to Stark and Billings counties.

   A project Library Renovation Phases I and II were completed during 1989-90 which included; painting, carpet replacement, electrical work, refinishing the woodwork, restoring the dome and the leaded glass over the original entryway, replacing desks and history cabinets, landscaping, sidewalks and drainage system replacement.

   In 1994, the new “Page Coach” bookmobile was acquired with funding from Billings and Stark Counties and large private corporate donations.  The “Page Coach” travels throughout Stark, Billings and Slope counties, being on the road 3—4 times a week.

   During 1997, the Library Board put together plans for expansion and renovation to meet the needs of the area served.  In March of 1998, the City Commission gave approval for the schematic design phase of the project.  Hulsing and Associates were awarded the design development and construction phase of the project for expansion and renovation of the building at that time.  In addition, Michael Tabeling, an Ohio architect specializing in library building/renovation design, was contacted to develop a design for a 20,000 square foot addition to the existing library.

   In the summer of 1998, various city and county boards came together to propose projects to be funded by city sales tax revenues.  Dickinson Parks and Recreation and the Dickinson Area Public Library proposed a measure to the voters to fund a community center for $7.5 million and the expand/renovate the library at $2.7 million.  Both plans were supported, but the measure was defeated in the public vote in November 1998.   At this point, both entities pursued their project funding separately.

   After years of planning and revising plans for expansion and renovation, the library determined that it would seek its own funding sources to supplement the foundation funds already accumulated.  Bidding was opened for the various contracts and ground was broken in 2004 to expand and renovate at the current location.  The addition adds 14,272+ square feet of library space to the south of the current library building.  The new addition posed the challenge of replicating the 1908 building and unifying the previous additions into a 24,000 square foot building.  The project was funded by the Dickinson Area Public Library Foundation, which was established to handle bequests and private donations in 1992.  No tax dollars were used for the building and renovating project.  The City of Dickinson contributed the furnishings and equipment for the library through the City Sales Tax.

   The original woodwork details and tin ceiling have been restored to retain the integrity and beauty of the original building.  The library features two entrances with the historic entrance located at 139 Third Street West.  This entrance has the original cast stone steps; cast stone lettering above the door lists the date of construction “1908” and the original “Public Library” sign.  The original leaded glass transom window is above the historic doors at the north entrance.  The 1908 fireplace has been converted to gas logs.  Stained glass windows and a glass birdcage style elevator give additional historic appeal to the library.  At present, the library contains approximately 90,000 volumes.  The new addition was finished and ready for occupancy in February 2006.  In February 2007, library personnel made the move to the newly completed circulation desk, located on the renovated upper level.  Lower level renovations were completed in late 2007, opening the entire building for public use.

   The Friends of the Library Garden Plaza entrance, located on 2nd Avenue West, is ground level and is accessible to the elevator.  The beautifully landscaped plaza features inscribed brick pavers, cast stone benched and trees purchased by donors.  The “Grand Opening and Renovation Celebration” was held in September 2007 with remarks and tours of the new/renovated facility. 

   In the fall of 2009, the house and lot across the street to the north from the Library were purchased by the Library Foundation.  A new and larger parking lot will be constructed on this plot.  Demolition of the existing house was done in April 2010.  The construction bid was awarded to Tooz Construction and was completed in late October 2010.  Landscaping of the surrounding areas was begun in the fall of 2011 and was completed in the spring of 2012.

   In the fall of 2012, an amplification system was installed by Tricorne Audio Systems to enhance our paging system. 

Refurbished Tin Ceiling

Converted Gas Fireplace

Birdcage Elevator

Dickinson Area Public 
Library History