Our History

The Cut Bank Woman's Club, organized in January 1922, began discussion of a public library in March of that same year. By May, a committee was appointed to find a clubhouse for the Woman's Club that would include space for a library. In September, a room, rent-free for the first year, was secured in Peter Ruetten's Teton Building.

A series of card parties and a dance, combined with the support of local businesses, provided enough money to fix up the library room, furnish it, and purchase an initial $100 worth of books. The Woman's Club appointed a committee to govern and operate the library. The first committee was composed of Mrs. John Coburn, Mrs. Dan Whetstone, Mrs. Walter Peoples, Mrs. Fred Lotz, and Mrs. George Norman.

Books were organized using the Dewey Decimal system and supplies for the library were purchased from national library vendors. Over the years the library continued to grow, accumulating more volumes each year.

Due to this growth, in 1928, the Woman's Club sought a new location for their clubhouse and library. The Great Northern Hotel or "Beanery", vacated by the Great Northern Railroad in 1926-27, was acquired by the Odd Fellows and renovated for use as their clubhouse. In July, 1928 the Woman's Club decided to rent a space in this building to house their club and library. By December of that same year, more bookshelves were needed for the growing collection.

In May 1936, the Woman's Club considered meeting with the County Commissioners to discuss the possibility of converting their rapidly growing Woman's Club Library into a County Library. Eventually, the group "did not like the idea of giving ‘our baby' away. So, it was agreed upon to table the matter for a time." On December 11, 1936 the group voted to move their club and library to the basement of the newly built City Hall. They agreed to furnish the bookshelves and pay $3.00 rent per meeting, with library days being free. The city required that the books be housed in locked cases which were purchased by the Club. On January 8, 1937 the Club met for the first time in their new quarters and opened the library in this new location.

In September 1940 "a calamity occurred," as was described in the Woman's Club Scrapbook. "A cloudburst flooded the basement of the City Hall. All the books in the library were soaked with water and sewage and had to be destroyed. The loss was estimated at $1500 and there was no insurance to cover it. This was a staggering blow for the Woman's Club to withstand, but the women rallied like veterans. They immediately decided to start a new Woman's Club Library. A book drive and tea were held, and with the aid of the Girl Scouts, 450 books were collected. The Community Chest Council allocated $500 for the library" and in late January 1941, the library was reopened. Over 600 books were cataloged by this time.

In 1944, the Woman's Club again visited the issue of converting their library into a county library. This time they elected to convert. The Glacier County Library was established in November 1944 by action of County Commissioners A.L. Michaels, Hugh Black, and Fred Gerard, Sr. It continued in the City Hall location and Marjorie Crawford Camm was the first librarian. Ruth Longworth succeeded Marjorie Camm and as the collections and services increased, it soon became evident that the quarters in the basement of City Hall were no longer adequate. In 1950, the first try for a bond issue was unsuccessful, but in 1954 a large majority voted favorably and the present buildings in Cut Bank and Browning were built. Both library buildings were designed by Page and Werner, architects from Great Falls. The Elks Club, the Woman's Club, and the Soroptomists supplemented the furnishings in the Cut Bank Library and the friends and family of the late Joseph L. Sherburne helped with the furnishings in the Browning Library. Dedication ceremonies for the libraries were held on April 27, 1957 in Browning and on April 28, 1957 in Cut Bank.

A ceramic relief, created by Rudy Autio, a Montana artist from the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, was installed on the right front entrance of the building in Cut Bank as a memorial gift from the family of William (Bill) Linder in 1956. It consists of three animals - a bison, a horse, and an ox. The bison symbolizes the prehistoric era, the primitive, undiscovered, undeveloped time before the white civilization. The horse represents the discovery period, the time of the explorers, the trappers and the missionaries. It is also important for its role in the Indian tribal economy and remains dominant as an animal loved by man for its beauty and utility. The ox is harnessed to serve man's needs and symbolizes the current period in development. It is a bovine animal and as such symbolizes all varieties of animals essential to permanent settlement.

In addition to the branch library in Browning, there is a branch in East Glacier Park under the sponsorship of the Glacier Park Woman's Club.

Past librarians in Cut Bank following Ruth Longworth were: Marie Zile, Joan Rigney, Lucille Anderson, Catherine Maier, Cynthia Pidcock, and Sheryl Chapman.

Past librarians in Browning were: Carol Peterson, Selma Harwood, Connie Peterson, Amy Beard, Willine LaPlant and Della Dubbe.

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