The Smoky Valley Library District
1969 - 1991
as originally written by
In 1969, Round Mountain and its environs had an estimated population of
250 people, with few amenities save for the salubrious climate, the unparalleled beauty
of the high desert, and a surprising congeniality among the populace. When the idea of
establishing a library was presented to the residents by Rothwell Camp, they greeted the
idea with more than a little enthusiasm.
Mrs. Roland Camp (known to all of us as "Rocky") was secretary of
Ordrich Gold Reserves, a company who had purchased the Round Mountain gold properties after the mines were closed in 1959 by Fresnillo out of Mexico City. Rocky and her husband lived here only a couple of years. In the spring of 1969, she was invited by a friend to attend a luncheon in Reno of the Reno chapter of the Women in American Institute of Mining Engineers (WAIME's). The chapter at that time was collecting books to distribute to rural mining camps, and they asked Rocky if Round Mountain would like to be a recipient. Subsequently, they donated a number of boxes of books to the project, and many of the local individuals also contributed books.
Mrs. Camp presented the idea of forming a library to several friends in this area, and on Nov. 14, 1969, a group gathered at the Camp's home to organize a Friends of the Library group. Officers elected were Rothwell Camp, President, Renota (Blondie) Kielhack, Vice-President, Nettie Darrough, Secretary, and Edna Bowman, Treasurer. Pledges were made to supply materials, time and labor, and a volunteer staff, and dues were set at $3.00 per year per member. In just 24 hours, 18 members had signed up. permission to use an old teacherage was obtained from Ray Tennant, Superintendent of Schools in Nye County, and the School Board. The building still stands on Mariposa street, about 1 ½ blocks east of the Palace Club, and now has a Sheriff's star painted on the door, but is not being used at this time. Even then, its 400 square feet of footage was insufficient.
Volunteers painted inside and out, built shelves, and put the building into operating condition, set up the books on the shelves, and did volunteer library service a few hours weekly. Lyle de la Vega donated a nice wooden sign for the library.
Just one month to the day after its organization, the library was formally opened and dedicated. In the interim, communication was established with the State Library system and their assistance was obtained. However, at that time, the Legislature had not passed a bill to assist libraries, so the State Library had only information and advice to offer. On January 10, 1970, another meeting of the Friends of the Library was held, and three additional people were named to the Board of Directors as well as the four original officer. These were Ed Critchfield, Margaret Carver, and Al White.
Rothwell's husband succumbed to cancer on June 27, 1970, and she moved to New Mexico, whereupon Blondie assumed the chairmanship of the group.
Since the library at this point was totally supported by volunteer contributions, a need arose for additional funds. A box social and auction was held on September 26, 1970, with Don bowman acting as auctioneer, with home baked goodies and
"white elephants" raising a goodly sum for the needs of the library.
Late in 1970, Norman Coombs was elected President of the group, and on
February 1, 1971, Nadine Orr was hired as the first paid employee of the library. She worked a few hours a week until July 26, 1972, when a new board replaced the people who had moved away, including all of the original officers, at which time Nadine resigned. Young John Clouser, a high school student, offered to run the library, with Ed Critchfield, and Norman Coombs serving as directors. From time to time over these "lean years", several young people donated their time to the library, including Tinker Lofthouse, Johnnie Lofthouse, Karla Berg, and Marcie Carver.
In 1976, the local library became associated with the Clark County Library System. From them came a Bookmobile which operated in this county for several years, to supplement our meager supply of books and bring in requested materials from their library system. A microfiche was installed here so we could have the ability to locate and borrow books from Clark County. Dick Stegman came up to round Mountain until August of 1985, when Diane Canfield was hired to fill the position when Nadine resigned. Janice Lair and Scarlet Hogan were her assistants at that time. Shortly after Diane's employment, Bill Strader was sent by the Nevada State Library to assist in setting up a computer for faster inter-library loans from the whole state, as well as to provide advice and invaluable assistance. Soon the library was almost totally automated, with a Winnebago circulation and catalogue computer program, an electronic card catalogue system, and an electronic laser guide system.
In 1986 the book count at the library stood at less than 8000 books. In 1990, we now have a collection of about 17,500 books. The library was also able to purchase a complete set (205) of video tapes from MacArthur Foundation, as well as other video and audio tapes which may be checked out. The square footage of library space has gone from the original 400 to 1000 in the interim building, to 5000 in the new building. As the advertising slogan goes, "You've come a long way, Baby!"