Washoe County Library History
1904-1930: The Early Years
Washoe County Library System began in 1904 with the opening of Reno's Carnegie Free Public Library at the corner of South Virginia and Mill Streets. The Carnegie library served residents of Washoe County until 1930, when the library found a larger space in the old State Building in Powning Park across Mill Street. The building was erected by the State of Nevada on a site leased by Washoe County, beginning the long relationship between area libraries and Washoe County.
|"The Carnegie Free Public Library"
Home of the Washoe County Library from 1904 -1930
|The "State" Building, Washoe County Library 1931 - 1965|
From its humble beginnings, Washoe County Library System has grown to operate twelve branch locations throughout Washoe County, plus the Mobile Library, the Community Resource Center, and the Internet branch.
1930-1980: The Steady Growth Years
The Sparks Library opened its doors in January of 1932 at its first location on B Street (now Victorian Avenue). It later moved to its current location near Oddie Boulevard and 12th Street in Sparks. The first mobile library in Washoe County Library System-the "Book Bus"-became a reality in the late 1950's, and provided the residents of Wadsworth, Gerlach, and Empire with library services.
By 1966, Washoe County had two libraries on wheels. In May of 1966, Reno saw the grand opening and dedication of the Downtown Reno Library, a gift from the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation to the people of Washoe County. The architecturally unique building designed by Hewitt C. Wells continues to serve residents and visitors to Downtown Reno.
In 1973, the North Valleys Library opened its doors as the Stead Branch. It served as the library for Truckee Meadows Community College while its current building was being built, and would later relocate to its current location in Golden Valley. It was known as the Peavine Branch until 1999, when it was given its current name.
Incline Village saw the opening of its first library in 1978, made possible by the donation of land by Boise Cascade. The construction was funded by the Washoe County Library Fund and a grant from the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation.
A grant also allowed the Senior Center Library to open its doors in Reno in 1979. The facility was primarily staffed by volunteers, providing book circulation, programs, and homebound delivery. The current location on 9th Street became an independent branch in 1991.
1980-1995: The Partnership Years
When it was no longer economically feasible to drive the Bookmobile 200 miles from Reno to Gerlach to provide library services, the Gerlach High School/Community Library became the first "partnership library" in Washoe County. The library was originally located in the school's former lunchroom, but a new library facility was provided in 1996. The library continues to serve Gerlach High School students as well as the general community.The Sierra View Library opened in 1987, the first Washoe County Library branch to open in a shopping center. In 1992, Washoe County Library and Washoe County School District again joined forces to open the Galena Community Library, inside the new Galena High School. The Galena branch served residents of the South Valleys until the construction of the South Valleys Library in 2003, at which time the Galena facility became the school library.
Also in 1992, the Verdi Community Library opened as Washoe County's third "partnership library". The Northeast Reno community got a "partnership library" in 1994 with the opening of the Duncan/Traner Community Library. Housed temporarily in Traner Middle School, the library moved into its current facility in October 1997, financed by a block grant from the City of Reno and matching funds from Glen Duncan Elementary School.
Mendive Community Library became the fifth and last partnership library in Washoe County when it opened in 1995, serving the East Sparks community until 2008, when the library was closed due to budget constraints.
1995-Present: The Expansion Years
With a dramatically increasing population in the Truckee Meadows, Washoe County Library System responded with increased locations and hours. The Northwest Reno Library opened in 1999 just north of McQueen High School. Bookmobile service returned to the Reno-Sparks area in 2001, with the addition of the Mobile Library, made possible largely due to grants and donations.
2002 saw the expansion of the Verdi partnership library into the Verdi Community Library and Nature Center, which opened on the grounds of Verdi Elementary School as a three-way partnership between the School District, the Library, and the Nevada Division of Wildlife. The South Valleys library opened in 2003 in the South Valleys Regional Sports Complex after voters approved a bond issue for library construction in 2000.
In 2005, the Spanish Springs Library opened in the Lazy 5 Regional Park on the Pyramid highway. The 30,000 square foot building was funded thanks to a 2000 bond issue that Washoe County voters passed for libraries, parks, trails and open space. 2005 also saw the opening of a new library facility in Incline Village. The 13,000 square foot library replaced the smaller facility, which was remodeled for use as office space for Washoe County. The Incline Village Library was built as the result of a 1994 tax override approved by Washoe County Voters.