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Bozeman Public Library History

Updated on 11/01/2017 6:24 PM

Images of the Bozeman Public Library's past buildings.

The Bozeman Public Library began as the Young Men’s Library Association in 1872. It was housed in a room above the Alward Drug Store at 118 East Main Street. In keeping with Victorian standards of the day, women were restricted to using the library room on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 3-5:00 pm while the men could only use it on Tuesday and Saturday evenings from 7-9:00 pm. The tax- supported Bozeman City Library opened in 1891 with rooms on the second floor of the new City Hall & Opera House.

Head Librarian Belle Chrisman appealed to Andrew Carnegie in September 1901 for funds to build a permanent library. Carnegie endowed the City of Bozeman with $15,000 to construct the building at 35 North Bozeman. Built in 1902-1903, the Carnegie Library served the community for over 75 years until the second library was opened at 220 East Lamme in 1981. A book brigade of 1,200 volunteers moved some 14,000 books from the old building to the new on July 14, 1981. The 22,000 square foot facility was the stage for the advent of computerized library services in Bozeman. The Library celebrated its Centennial year in 1991.

I2001, taxpayers approved a $4 million bond referendum for a new facility; the money was used to purchase the 14.3 acre former Milwaukee Railroad property on East Main Street. After five years of fundraising and planning, a new 53,000 square foot Library opened at 626 East Main Street in November 2006. The new Library achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver level certification, the first public building in the state to be certified LEED.

If you wish to know more about the Library’s history, check out The Bozeman Public Library: a History by Phyllis Smith.