The Main Library in Placerville
The first public library in El Dorado County was a small Placerville City Library established in 1906 on the upper floor of Confidence Hall. The City Clerk’s office was in the front portion of the room and when a patron wanted a book, he waited until the Clerk’s duties permitted him to come through the gate separating the library area from his office to check out the book.
The library remained in the City Hall until 1947 when a group of citizens began the work of establishing a County Free Library. With the help of the State Library, this early Friends of the Library group raised funds and bought the old A.S. Fox house on Sacramento Street. The library was moved into these new quarters in 1948.
In December of 1968, the library was moved into the old Purity grocery market on Main Street (now the Town Hall) to make room for the new Post Office on Sacramento Street. Although bigger, the market still was not adequate for the growing use of the collection. The county librarian’s office was situated in the old meat locker.
A federal grant and county support enabled the library to be included in the plans for a new Government Center on Fair Lane. In 1978 the new Main Library was proudly opened to the public. Consisting of 23,000 square feet, our present home continues to thrive as the library center of the county. The library has a collection of 140,000 items.
Library service in the Shingle Springs/Cameron Park area began in 1961 when Harvey West moved the original Pollock Pines library building to property next door to the Buckeye School.
The Shingle Springs Library was open ten hours per week, and by 1966 it had outgrown its one room building and moved to a larger, three-room building on the corner of French Creek Road and Mother Lode Drive.
The library operated until 1983, when it was closed due to lack of funding, maintenance and use.
In the late 1980’s, a Friends of the Library group formed in Cameron Park to advocate for a new library for the growing suburban community. The project was awarded a federal grant for $500,000 to be used for a new library building and the Board of Supervisors produced the rest of the construction funding from local bonds.
The 12,000 square foot Cameron Park Library opened to the public in April 1994. Located adjacent to two schools, it immediately attracted large numbers of families and children. Operating funds for its six day per week schedule came from a voter approved annual benefit assessment of $25 per household as well as county general funds.
The community continues to be very supportive of the library facility. In the library’s first ten years a kitchen was added to the meeting room, decorative and acoustically functional banners were hung from the high ceiling, an original work of art was placed in the adult reading area, and a xeriscape garden was planted outside. The Patricia Springer Reading Room was completed and dedicated in 2003.
El Dorado Hills
The first El Dorado Hills Branch opened on October 11, 1965 in the former sales office of the developer of the new planned community on El Dorado Hills Boulevard.
When the sales office was moved in 1982, an agreement with Oak Ridge High School allowed the branch library to share space and staff with the new high school library.
By the late 1990s, the tremendous growth of the high school and the community made the shared library too crowded for both public and school use. A committee of the local Newcomers Club, led by Betty January, began to look into the idea of a separate library facility and approached the Board of Supervisors with their ideas. Eventually forming as a chapter of the Friends of the Library, this group continued to build support from the community.
In 2002, the County Board made $2 million available from Community Enhancement Funds for construction of a new library if the voters would agree to tax themselves $25 per parcel for operating funds. The public overwhelmingly approved the idea, and the building project began. Additional construction funding was provided by developers Bill Parker and Angelo Tsakapoulous and a grant from the state of California.
The 16,000 square foot library opened in February 2006. It features an adult reading room with fireplace, a separate storytime room, a young adult area, and automated circulation system. A large oil painting by Connie Randmaa was donated by Bill Parker, and the Friends of the Library provided such amenities as the display cases, fountain and donor wall plaques in addition to the reading tree and bronze sculpture in the children’s room. The library has a capacity of 60,000 volumes.
When the Friends of the Library were organized in Placerville for the purpose of establishing a county library, two prominent citizens attended the Board of Supervisors meeting seeking a branch of the county library in Georgetown. The first branch was established in a part of the front room of the Armory furnished with shelving constructed by the Rotary Club. Although ready in December 1948, library supporters were persuaded to wait until after the first branch opened at Coloma, as part of the Centennial Celebration of the discovery of gold. Soon after, the county’s second branch library in Georgetown was opened two hours a day, three days a week.
After a decade, the library outgrew the Armory and in October, 1959, the branch moved to its quarters to a pioneer building on Main Street. Not only did Theresa Lengyel operate the library, she also owned the building.
The challenges of parking and accessibility in the historic Main Street building drove the search for a new location. In the fall of 1994, the library moved to its present home on Orleans Street. After remodeling and expansion in 2004, the library continues to grow and serve the community.
Doris Cloherty started the first Pollock Pines Library in 1951, using a couple of shelves in her coffee shop. She kept the little library open at night, bringing her children with her. When the coffee shop was closed, she and Miss Edith Gantt, county librarian at that time, talked to Harvey West about the possibility of establishing a real library. In 1952 he donated a small building on the site of the present library. As the community grew, Miss Gantt asked Mr. West how they could expand and his reply was, ‘Wouldn’t it be better to make a new one?’ He moved the small building to Shingle Springs where it was again used as a library. Then he built the present building in 1960, donating it to Pollock Pines. Otis and Myrtle Carr, who owned the lot on which the building stood, added to West’s gift by donating the land.
Although small at 1,200 square feet, the Pollock Pines library continues to function as a branch library in a small town. Its charming knotty pine alpine cabin interior is filled with a collection of 16,000 items.
South Lake Tahoe
The first South Lake Tahoe branch of the county library was opened in 1948 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wakeman and was moved after a few months to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Amundson. After many subsequent moves in search of more adequate housing, a lot on Highway 50 was made available with building funds donated by a recently disbanded community club.
On March 5, 1959 the library opened with few furnishings, books or shelving. A Friends of the Library was formed to raise funds and the community rallied behind the effort. A grant requiring matching funds was obtained and the campaign was successfully completed prior to the deadline.
In 1978 preliminary plans were begun for a new branch library in South Lake Tahoe next to the county campground. After obtaining grant funding from the federal government the new library was completed and dedicated on April 16, 1983. The 12,000 square foot facility on Rufus Allen Boulevard has the unique good fortune to overlook beautiful Lake Tahoe out of its north windows. It is a popular place for locals and tourists alike.