Ronan Library District

History of the Ronan City Library

From the files found at the library.

The Ronan City Library has had a long and exciting history, showing consistent growth improvement.

In November 1914, a brave start was made to provide the citizens of Ronan with a collection of books to enjoy. The effort was led by Mrs. Bess Sterling and Miss Oyen of the Good Cheer Club. Members of the Club and other interested individuals donated books for the Library. Missoula Library loaned fifty books for a month at a time. In December 1914 and at Easter time 1915, benefit dances were held to raise funds for the Library. These social affairs were successful, and thus Ronan Library was on its way.

From 1915 to 1923 there is no written record of the Library's history, but according to non-official reports, the Library operated in a small way during these years.

In the summer of 1923, books were allocated from the Flathead and Missoula Libraries, and a room was designated in the original High School building for the Library. Representatives of the Good Cheer Club, Mrs. Sterling, Mrs. Clubb, Mrs. Lemire, and Mrs. Swee, helped shelve books and set up a record system. Ronan Library had a "home" and was ready for action. Mrs. Helen Clubb Dechent became Librarian. Other Librarians between 1923 and 1930 were: Mrs. Margaret Sterling Brooke, Mrs. June Stephens Sterling, and Mrs. Ramona Stephens Hart.

In 1930 a fire destroyed the Library, books and records, but the ladies of the Good Cheer Club (later the Ronan Womans Club) were determined to have a library. They went to work immediately and secured books and supplies-mostly from individuals around Ronan. A second library was opened in a small room in the Elementary School and Miss Beth O'Brien became Librarian. Miss O'Brien was followed by Miss Marjorie Lemire, Miss Lois Lemire, and Mrs. Charlotte Ostroot, as Librarians. The Elementary School room was "home" for the Ronan Library for ten years.

Early in 1940, the City Council of Ronan took the responsibility of operating the Library and designated the small back room of City Hall as "Ronan City Library." Mrs. Charles (Ruth) Moody was the first Librarian paid with City funds. The previous Librarian had been paid from the coffers of the Good Cheer Club and Woman's Club. Mrs. Moody did the first cataloging and classified shelving of the nearly 500 book collection.

Mrs. Knute Johnson, Mrs. Frances Beiry Vitalich, and Miss Lucy Butcher were also Librarians before the Library outgrew City Hall facilities.

For nearly four years Mrs. Lee Butcher housed the Library in her home on "K" Street and served as Librarian. Then Gamble's Store made room for the Library in their basement. Miss Lillian Flannagan became Librarian and held the position for fourteen years. She supervised the move back to the City Hall building during the fall of 1960. The Ronan City Library was now given a larger front room, as well as the small back room.

In 1968, Mrs. Frank (Alice) Wolf was secured as Librarian. Mrs. Wolf did an outstanding accomplishment in cataloging the over 6,000 book collection, using the Dewey Decimal System. In January 1968, the City Council set up a five member Library Board to assist the Librarian in planning and operating a more efficient library program.

In 1971, Ronan began a unique adventure for the City Library; securing a better and more permanent "home" for the Library. The Ronan State Bank had moved into a new location and were selling the old bank building. The Library Board and the Woman's Club went to work, incessantly, to raise money and get a bond election passed, granting the purchase of the old bank building. They succeeded!!! The building was purchased, new furniture obtained, and the Open House and Dedication of the Ronan City Library in this excellent location was held in April 1972. To this day, Ronan City Library resides in the same location.

Mrs. Wolf continued as Librarian until May 1973, when Mrs. Ruth Anne Plunkett became Librarian, with Mrs. Wolf staying on for one year, as consultant and cataloger. Mrs. Plunkett was Librarian until August 1983. These were good years for the Library. The collection was greatly enlarged to approximately 16,000 items. All types of literature, pleasure, and reference materials were collected, mostly through donations of friends and patrons. A large library of paperbacks was added. These were very popular with many of the patrons.

From August 1983 to August 1984, Miss Wendy Macklin was the Librarian. This year the Library facilities were expanded by the addition of shelving for the vault-room of the Library, to accommodate additional book collection. Miss Macklin also increased the collection with over 400 new, up-to-date books of both fiction and non-fiction.

September 1, 1984, Mrs. Ray (Gladys) Zahner became Librarian. Soon after taking over the Library, Mrs. Zahner, and the Board of Trustees were able to make plans for redecorating the Library to make it more energy efficient. This was made possible by grants from Burlington Northern and the Salish-Kootenai Tribe. In December, the Library was newly painted and new window blinds and carpet were installed. These items added greatly to the comfort and beauty of the Library, as well as conserving heat.

In September of 1985, Susan Greenman was secured as part-time assistant Librarian. Gladys and Susan worked very diligently to increase the Library services for citizens of Ronan. They worked on surveying the collection and updating the card catalog. They were always very welcoming and touted themselves as being there to serve the community. Gladys taught Susan everything she knew about libraries and Ronan City Library. When Gladys retired in April of 1987, Susan took over as Librarian until September of 1989.

Marilyn Koester was Librarian until December 2006. During her time as Librarian, many things were accomplished, including expanding the library.

After training with Marilyn for a month, in January 2007, Michelle Fenger became the Librarian and Director.