The Library Was “Groovy” in the Sixties | Alissa Wolenetz, Director

“No more is the library thought of as a place of narrow, book-lined corridors where people speak in hushed whispers.” That’s what Roberta Donovan, editor of the Lewistown Daily News and News-Argus, wrote in 1969. 

She was right. The Library scrapbook from 1969 contains all kinds of new things at the Library, especially for young people. One of the most interesting developments was a new collection of art prints in the young adult section. The scrapbook page for this service is one of my favorites. The title, hand drawn in neon orange and magenta bubble letters, says “NOUVEAU GROOVY!” 

Teens also loved the Library’s music collection. In one photo, students in blue and gold FHS varsity jackets pose with a tape deck, ready to start listening to a cassette. In another, a young man checks out a record to take home. Every evening, the Library piped “popular tunes” throughout the building for the younger crowd. 

The Library was also very proud of two new services offered to its patrons — copying and laminating. Of course, copying and printing services are still in high demand today. While we no longer offer laminating, we do continue what librarians in 1969 described as “one of their most popular services” — the free magazine section. There’s no beating the scrapbook’s description: “Happiness is a free magazine! Some giveth — others taketh away!”

The Library provided lots of services for children through its partnerships with schools and community organizations. Elementary schools from the city and county came to visit the Library, a tradition that continues to this day. Librarians also went to the schools. In November of 1969,  assistant librarian Mary Stamm was invited to speak to the Library Club at St. Leo’s High School. One student’s review, included in a thank you letter written by one of the Sisters, says, “It is groovy to have such an intelligent person in our city. I could listen to her for hours.”

Other areas of interest included photographs and letters in the local history section and a collection of large-print books. Today, many photos and documents from our local history section are available online through the Montana Memory Project. We still maintain a large collection of large-print books and readers can use the MontanaLibrary2Go to check out eBooks with adjustable font sizes. 

History repeats itself — we are also “groovy.” Come by to check out books, audiobooks, DVDs, and Wi-Fi hotspots. Read through our local history section. We recently received a grant to purchase robotics equipment to keep up with the times, so keep an eye out for future science programs, too. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you all!

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