Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The year of the Library

Community Library celebrates 50 years

The year of the Library

It's the 50s, you are in Sun Valley and you're here to get a divorce from a husband with whom married life is akin to living in a "squirrel cage." What do you do?

Open a library.

Well, no one ever accused Clara Spiegel of being ordinary.

Spiegel was the driving force behind the 17 founders of Ketchum's Community Library, the only library in the nation to be entirely funded by private donations.

Standing on the seventh green of Sun Valley golf course one balmy September day, in 1954, Spiegel's golfing companions, Mary Ellen Moritz and Ellen Seagle, despaired of their isolation. Their proclamation that if only they had books they would not be so bored or feel so isolated from the rest of society, piqued Spiegel's interest. Within weeks plans for The Community Library were in motion.

While each founder contributed a dollar, they quickly realized that a little more was needed. So, out of an abandoned miner's shack, the Gold Mine Thrift shop was born. Alongside money from the thriving thrift shop, amongst the first to donate to the shop was actress Norma Shearer, the ladies raised funds through the delicate pursuits of bridge parties, home tours and tea dances, no fun-running here then. Within two years, they had enough to break ground.

In 1957, the Community Library opened in the building that today houses the thrift shop. Almost twenty years later, in 1976, the library moved to its current site and then expanded to double the original size in 1986.

The Community Library was established and continues to run today without funds from any federal, state or local agency. For over 4 decades the Library has been supported by contributions from the community, imaginative fundraisers and donations to the Gold Mine.

The Community Library is embarking on a year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary—a milestone in the community. The celebration will include a variety of events throughout 2005 including the premiere of a film of the opening of Sun Valley in the thirties, a talk by famed environmentalist Doug Scott, an informal party at the Gold Mine this summer and a grand Gala Ball on March 13.

In line with the anniversary year, the month of February has been designated Regional History Month. All month long the Library will share some of the priceless Sun Valley history it has collected over the years.

At 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 28, the library will air the premiere of the never before seen footage of the early days in Sun Valley, including the actual opening of the Sun Valley resort. The footage will open the Apres Ski Vintage Film Festival, which features classic Sun Valley ski footage and will occur every Thursday in February.

Edward Hall Taylor made the newly discovered films, when he visited Sun Valley in the thirties. There are scenes of the original the lodge bar, a great swimming pool scene and shots of the skiers of the day. Another film is of the Lodge's opening day—which, unusually, did not receive the snow expected so skiers were actually skiing on straw. Let's hope that idea is never resurrected.

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