GFPL Timeline

 1889    Real estate was given by the townsite Company and the Valeria Library Association was formed largely through the efforts of Mrs. Paris Gibson.

 1890    The Valeria Library Association located in the Milton Boardman block was opened with 800 books on its shelves.  Later in the year, the Valeria building was built at a cost of $5,000.  Robert Williams was the first librarian and Miss Eloise Petit, the second librarian.

 1892    The Valeria Library Association was taken over by the city and became the Valeria Free Library.  Miss Lutie E. Weitman was the librarian.  She was succeeded by Miss Bella Brown.

 1903    The new Carnegie building was opened, built at a cost of $35,000, $30,000 of which was donated by Andrew Carnegie* and $5,000 from other sources.  Miss Jennie Connor was appointed librarian.  Mr. Haire, Helena, was the architect for the building.  Goddard and Smith of Butte were the contractors. 

            *Carnegie funds for public library buildings were terminated in 1917.

1911    The Children’s room was opened in the basement of the library with Miss Josephine Trigg as children’s librarian.  The Great Falls Public Library has pioneered in library service to children in Montana.

1912    Miss Louise Fernald was appointed librarian.  The library’s levy was raised to 2 mills.  The book collection reached the 50,000 mark with special collections of genealogy and Montana history.

 1920    Extension of library service began with a deposit collection of 250 books in  West Side Bank; in 1923 moved to the West Side fire station.

 1940    West Side Library opened in the new West Side Community Hall with a collection of 1,456 books and a part time librarian; closed July 8, 1942 when the building was taken over by the Army for office use; re-opened February 1945.

 1945    Miss Fernald and Miss Trigg retire and Miss Margaret Fulmer was appointed librarian.

 1946    A self-survey, New Directions for the Great Falls Public Library, was prepared by the Library Board, the librarian, and the staff.

 1947    September 3, a deposit station was opened part time in the Bill Holt Recreation Building to serve the Bill Holt and Parkdale housing area and the surrounding neighborhood.

 1952    Miss Margaret Fulmer Resigned from her position as librarian and was succeeded by Miss Lucille Simpson, October 15

 1953    The front entrance and work room was remodeled.

 1954    Lucille Simpson resigned from her position as librarian and Mrs. Alma Jacobs was appointed Acting Librarian, January 1

 1954    July 1, Mrs. Alma Jacobs appointed librarian.

 1956    June 25, bookmobile service from the Great Falls Public Library to serve the City of Great Falls.

 1957    December, The Great Falls Public Library, a Survey, Recommendations for Future Development and Planning, was prepared by Frederick Wezeman, Associate Professor, Library School, University of Minnesota.

 1958    August, the architectural firm of Knight and Van Teylingen was hired for planning the new library building.

 1958    September, application was made to the Housing and Home Finance Agency for funds for the preliminary planning of the new building.

 1958    The Bill Holt Station was closed on September 1, 1958 and the area was supplied with service from the bookmobile.

 1958    October, the Lion’s Club of Great Falls spearheaded the building campaign for a new library.

 1958    November, a contract for service was signed with the Board of Trustees of the Conrad Public Library providing cataloging and processing of books.

 1958    December, Mr. Coit Coolidge was hired as Librarian-Consultant for the building program.

 1959    January, petitions were signed to put the new library building bond issue on the ballot in April.

 1959    April 6, the $1,250,000 bond issue for a new library building was defeated.

 1959    June 30, a contract was signed with the Board of Cascade County Commissioners, combining the Cascade County Library and the Great Falls Public Library.  A contract for service was signed by the Board of Commissioners of Pondera County for service.  The  contract for service with the Board of Trustees of the Conrad Public Library was renewed.

 1959    Since 1959 the Great Falls Public Library has offered library services on contract to Cascade and Pondera counties.  The libraries in the area are federated in a system that enables all participating libraries to benefit mutually.

 1959    September 28, bookmobile service to Cascade and Pondera Counties began.  Bookmobile loaned by the Montana State Library Extension Commission for the duration of the extension service.

 1960    April, formal organization of the Friends of the Great Falls Public Library during National Library Week.

 1963    Second bond issue campaign was defeated.

 1964    The state Library bought a new bookmobile for the extension service.

 1965    The former (Carnegie building) was closed September 4, 1965, and temporary library service was made available at the Hub Thisted building, 322 Central Avenue, since September 4, 1965.

 1966    McIver and Hess were architects for the new building , for which the City council in July 1966 accepted bids.

 1967    New public library dedicated on Sunday, November 12, 1967.

 1968    Under the leadership of Mr. Robert D. Warden and Senator William H. Bertsche, there was formed a non-profit corporation called the Great Falls Public Library Foundation.

 1968    Closing of West Side Branch of the Great Falls Public Library November 1, 1968.

 1968    Teton County Contracted for library service in July 1968.

 1968    The Hatcher Toy Collection was presented to the library.

 1969    Meeting of the Pathfinder Federation Board of Trustees, February 28, name of Federation changed to the Pathfinder Federation of Libraries.  The Dutton Public Library was set up, and the libraries at Choteau and Fairfield were completely rejuvenated.  New public library built at Valier.

 1969    Meeting of the Pathfinder Federation Board of Trustees, February 28, name of Federation changed to the Pathfinder Federation of Libraries.  The Dutton Public Library was set up, and the libraries at Choteau and Fairfield were completely rejuvenated.  New Public library built at Valier.

 1969    Library Plaza was completed.

 1969    Friends of the Library conducted a Reader Use Survey at the library in March and April.

 1970    Noontime Book Reviews held in Library Plaza.  The program titled: “Lunch Box Book Reviews.”

1971    Liberty County began contracting for Federation service.

 1972    Budget cut of City of Great Falls stops library bookmobile service, affects days of opening, and results in employee layoffs, May 1972.

 1972    Bookmobile resumes schedule, December 12, 1972.

 1973    Library will again be open on Mondays beginning March 12, 1973.

 1973    Alma Jacobs, Great Falls Public Library librarian for 19 years, resigned her post to become librarian of the Montana State Library in Helena, effective August 1.

 1973    July, Blaine County contracted with the Headquarters library for federation services with participating libraries in Chinook and Harlem.

 1973    Beatrice E. Eigher has been named acting librarian by the board of trustees until a permanent appointment is made.

 1973    July 23, 1973 “Alma S. Jacobs Day” at the Great Falls Public Library.  Friends of the Library held an open house to honor Mrs. Jacobs.

 1973    Alene Cooper of Glasgow is appointed head librarian of the Great Falls Public Library, effective January 1, 1974.

 1975    Concept of library systems in Montana was strengthened by passage of Senate Bill No. 485 during the 43 Legislative Assembly.  This law authorizes library federations and state funding as may become available.

 1975    Library opens on Sunday afternoons for three hours beginning October 5, 1975, (October through May) with full library services available.  The new Sunday hours are the first for Great Falls since 1953, when only the reading rooms were open Sundays.

 1975    The State Library Commission has proposed a demonstration project which would extend library service from federated library systems in Montana to non-federated areas.

 1974-75           The Great Falls Public Library was selected as one of five libraries in Montana to be a local learning center receiving continuing educational programs.  This series of adult education programs was made available from the Division of Extension and Continuing Education, University of Montana.

 1975-76           Programs for older citizens are being given on a monthly basis.

 1974    Appropriation of revenue sharing funds by the City commission allows for the replacement of the present twenty-year-old vehicle.  Revenue sharing funds were also made available for audio-visual equipment.

 1976    Grants from the Library services and Construction Act funds were awarded to the Great Falls Public Library by the Montana State Library.  The Great Falls Public Library will join other libraries in the state in a demonstration of federation library service.  The Great Falls Library, headquarters for the Pathfinder Federation of Libraries, will demonstrate interlibrary loan services in Hill, Chouteau, Glacier and Toole Counties and the Havre Public Library.  Grant funds were earmarked for bookmobile-van service to Blaine and Liberty Counties.

 1976    Arlene Cooper, Librarian for the Great Falls Public Library and coordinator of the Pathfinder Federation Libraries, announced her resignation, effective December 17.

 1976    Toole, Chouteau and Hill Counties chose to continue the interlibrary loan service, as a result of the demonstration, by contracting with the Great Falls Public Library.

 1976    The new city bookmobile, which was financed with revenue sharing funds, was delivered in April.

 1976    Referendum 70 was defeated by public vote on November 2, 1976.  This referendum referred to state funding for public libraries.

 1976    The Great Falls Public Library pioneered in cooperative effort through a contract which houses the Cascade County Law Library within the Public Library.

 1976    The Friends of the library organize a new library service “Books for the Homebound” which make possible the delivery of library materials to shut-ins by volunteers.

 1977    Beatrice Eigher served as acting director until library director appointed.

 1977    The board of trustees of the Great Falls Public Library named Richard Gercken as director of the library.  He took over his post in late March.

 1977    Margaret Warden resigned from the Board of Trustees after 19 years of service.

 1977    Union workers of the City of Great Falls went on strike July 1 to 27, 1977.  The library continued full operations with the exception of bookmobile service.

 1988    Jim Heckel appointed director of the library.

 2009    Construction of the Alma Jacobs Plaza completed.  Jim Heckel retires.  Kathy Mora becomes director of Great Falls Public Library.






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