A Brief History of the Churchill County LibraryThe history of the Churchill County Library stretches back to 1905 when Mrs. Callie Ferguson, Fallon’s postmistress, and Mrs. Mary Black operated the first lending library in the old post office. This was a place where the men who were working on Lahontan Dam could go to write letters to their families and to obtain reading material. In 1915, Mrs. George Williams started a “reading room” in the Wightman Building which was on the site where the Fallon Nugget now stands. In 1918, the Draper Club, a literary group, assumed responsibility for the room and moved it upstairs in the Wightman Building. The reading room stayed in this location until January 1920 when it was moved to the Woodliff Building. It was during this time Mrs. Mel Price became the first woman in Churchill County to be given the title librarian.
In 1925, a new state law was passed authorizing counties to become responsible for reading rooms in their jurisdictions. Mrs. Ethel Hoyt was appointed as the County’s librarian. During November 1932, the library was moved to 37 South Maine Street, next to the Fraternal Hall. Mrs. Hoyt resigned in 1940, and Mrs. Mary Martin was appointed as her successor. The next notable event in the library’s history occurred in 1957 when Librarian, Mrs. Dorothy Walker, cataloged the collection. Mrs. Walker was succeeded by Mrs. Frank Walquist, who was succeeded by Mrs. Dora Witt in 1960.
Dora saw a need for a larger library. The old building had become cramped and crowded, with no room for expansion. Her first step towards a new library was a bond issue, but it failed to garner the necessary votes. During the 1960s the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation was granting monies to build libraries in rural areas. Dora applied for a grant, and was awarded $111,208. She also had support from the community. Soroptimist International of Fallon pledged $1,000, and the Friends of the Library set aside $1,500 towards the building fund. Churchill County purchased the lot of land, and Edward Parsons from Reno was retained as the architect. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held September 1966, and the dedication and grand opening was held in April 1967. The library finally had a permanent home at 553 S. Maine Street. The total cost to build the library in 1966/67 was just over $286,000. Through the generosity of the county, three parcels of land adjacent to the library, was purchased in October 2001, thereby enabling future expansion to the building.
Barbara Mathews became Director in 1987. During her tenure, the Ross Mortgage Company building was purchased in 2006. The library was given permission to utilize the building. The bookstore was moved into the front two rooms of the building and a Meeting Room occupies the back. The building was rechristened the Library Annex/Serendipity Corner. Friends of the Library hired local artist Cody Deegan to paint a mural on the front of the building to advertise the bookstore. Churchill County purchased the remaining lot on the block and the Library Board hired an architectural firm from Reno to draw a set of plans for a new library facility. These plans were completed in 2008. Barbara Mathews retired in 2012 having served the County for over 28 years.
Carol Lloyd was appointed Director that same year. It was decided to re-purpose the existing building as library services had changed dramatically since the time the plans were completed 4 years prior. Resources are more readily available via downloadable means thus the need for additional physical space was diminishing. Collaborative Design Studios was contracted to provide plans. The Re-purpose Project was completed in February 2015.