Round Valley Public Library
Where do we begin our heart-lifting story? We have lived for decades searching
for hope. We have no local government beyond that of the Tribal Council for the
reservation. Our civic organizations have been in decline with ever-dwindling
memberships and lack of focus. We have a litany of visionary projects begun,
only to be aborted in ennui. Initially, a great many of our citizens chalked up
the idea of a new library to being one more project destined for failure.
Yes! But then the zeal of the core group of five Friends caught and spread like
wildfire. Soon the core became twenty and continued to grow to the current four
hundred fifty donors, with more than sixty-five hundred hours of volunteer
time. People who had never participated in community activities became
enlisted, and the doubting Thomases soon became staunch supporters. I encourage
you to read the testimonials included in this nomination.
The decision to buy the old, dilapidated Round Valley Inn was predicated in
part upon its history as a place in which all people were welcome and for its
location in the heart of town at the center of the valley.
Beyond the basic need to house our book collection, we felt a strong
responsibility to create a warm, homey atmosphere. Many of our citizens live in
crowded and forlorn environments. For some the library is a chance to be warm
in winter, for others it is a safe haven. It has the only public restrooms in
town. We outfitted our reading sections with durable, comfortable leather
furniture. Citizens stepped forward to design everything from the reference
tables to the tiles in the bathroom. Our citizens own our library.
Our Library Commons is host to many programs underscoring current and ongoing
One such example is the Sustainability Movie Night, held once a month. The
sponsors use all proceeds to donate books to our library, books calculated to
be of great interest to our local farmers, ranchers, and home gardeners.
A dedicated member of both the Sustainability Group and the Friends has
single-handedly launched an ambitious seed exchange library. Books in the
sustainability library teach seed-harvesting skills, and coupled with the
heirloom seeds we provide, allow for a greater range of produce to be sold at
the Farmers Market held among the over-arching walnut trees in the commons
garden--the only public park in town. Armed with healthy organic produce,
people may make use of the books on canning and food preservation as well as
use our commercial kitchen to put up nutritious food for the winter, a good way
for cash-strapped families to feed their children well, or to offer the
preserves for sale through the coffee shop in the Community Room Lobby.
While the majority of our funds have come through grants, we have always felt it
imperative that our community own the library, that people here are able to
find traces of themselves, family, and other community members throughout.
Thus, the importance of local donations of time and/or money. We also generate
reliable income from retail space and from the rent for the Community Room (on
a sliding-scale basis). With ownership in mind, we have hosted a great many
fundraisers that may not have actually raised a significant amount of money for
the project, but through participation have reinforced each individual
’s ownership and kinship in the commons.
Our library staff actively seeks to help our visitors reach far beyond our print
options as we constantly seek to dovetail all experiences offered, allowing
patrons to stumble upon meaningful experiences in much the same way one used to
browse the library and allow serendipity to dictate the next read.
Our computers are in constant use, so much so that we have had to limit use to
one hour per day per patron. However, we also offer high-speed WiFi to all,
with unlimited access free of charge, 24/7. Many patrons choose to access it in
our comfortable Community Room Lobby, or while enjoying a cup of tea in our
spacious covered patio garden, or while snuggled in the comfort of leather
armchairs in our reading room, or in the privacy of their own cars. So much of
our rural population is simply off the grid; this is the only access for them
to the outside world. For students writing papers or people needing longer
screen time, they have the option of signing up for computer use in our Media
Room, which gives them privacy and access to online legal help and counseling
services, as well as online classes.
Nestled as we are in the Yolla Bolly wilderness, with a population sparsely
spread out, communication can often be difficult. Two years ago, we had the
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set up our own radio station. The Friends
quickly realized what a valuable role the station could play in our library and
our community. The Radio Committee was formed as a subcommittee of the Friends.
With an all-volunteer staff (the Friends own the FCC license), we broadcast
twenty-four hours a day. We offer locally produced public affairs, news,
interviews, and entertainment programming, as well as rebroadcasts of
nationally syndicated Native American news and cultural information. One of our
chief resources and technicians teaches regular classes on how to create your
own radio program. As a result, we currently broadcast eighteen locally
produced shows. Our librarian hosts an hour of children
’s songs and stories on air, and recently we became capable of hosting live
call-in programming as well. This treasure allows us to reach nearly every home
in the valley, no matter where you live or who you are. It allows for
desperately needed, up-to-the-minute news on local forest fires and calamities,
as well as live broadcasting of local events and festivities for those
housebound. All this, while offering everyone in the community the opportunity
to become familiar with the technical equipment and discipline involved in a
top-notch setting. The Radio Committee, with its emphasis on local
participation and positive programming, has enticed into its fold a great many
younger people not in the habit of volunteering or crossing racial and
territorial boundaries. Once the strangeness of other has been removed, we are
finding that these same individuals are crossing over into other groups,
revitalizing many of our sister community organizations with their youth and
vitality, passing on the skills they have gained.
The library plays a crucial role in supporting local organizations and they in
turn give back to the library and to the community. On a separate sheet you
’ll find a list of the full range of those who have become dependent on our
What more can we say? Our library has become the heart and soul of our
community, and we own it!