1915 ~ a modest beginning……
A modest beginning toward a library in Akron was effected in 1915, when a collection of donations formed the basis for later work. The first library was organized at the Post Office, with 379 books donated by the citizens of Akron and Washington County. Seven years later, on April 24, 1922, a number of ladies representing local clubs and organizations, met and formed the Akron Library Association, in the interest of improving the library.
The following March, the Washington County Commissioners offered the Association the use of two rooms in the courthouse basement, with lighting and heat free of charge, to house the growing library. The Town of Akron contributed $300 to pay one year’s salary to the librarian. In 1926, voters authorized the town to levy one-half mill for support of the library, and later, one mill.
By 1928, the Library Association purchased its first real property on Greeley Avenue, today’s Main Avenue, but in the months that followed, the decision was made to try for a new building rather than remodel an old one. The local Masonic Lodge became involved, and donated the five lots that are today’s library grounds on the northeast corner of Main Avenue and Third St. A flurry of fund raising followed, one of which was selling chances at one dollar each on a car to be given away at the County Fair. The event netted $1200 to be used towards the building fund. The library then sold it’s little piece of real estate on Greeley Avenue, and on June 8, 1931 ground was broken for a brand new building. One month later, on July 9, the Grand Lodge of the Free Masons of Colorado officiated at the laying of the cornerstone on the foundation of the forthcoming library building.
The new library building was completed in the fall of 1931. It was designed by architect C.W. Barrett and built by M.S. Beach’s construction firm at a cost of $6000. The library opened its’ doors to the public on the evening of Friday, October 30, with 2,674 books lining the shelves. By 1934, there were 3,362 volumes and 250 borrowers. The librarian was Bess Annable; members of the Library Board were Mayor Frank Loftiss, chairman; Leah Allen, secretary; Kathryn M. Huey, treasurer; Carrie Loftiss, C.E. Stewart, Otto Hoyt, and Mrs. John Kern. Subsequent librarians (being sole employees, directing all aspects of the library, they are also referred to as Library Directors) were Lavenia Woods 1960-1970, Margaret Cooley 1970-1987, and Jan McCracken from 1987-present.
On February 12, 2001, 70 years after the Library’s grand opening and with much diligence and forethought from the Library Director and Library Board, the Library was included in the State Register of Historic Properties, by the Colorado Historical Society. During the next five years, the community responded to a plea for matching funds towards grant opportunities from the Colorado Historical Society, as the Library Director, Library Board and Project manager persevered in obtaining the grants for a structural assessment and two major historical restoration and rehabilitation projects, resulting in a library building as preserved and grand as ever!
The library remains a municipal library for the Town of Akron and is the only public library in Washington County. It serves more than 900 registered borrowers, has an annual circulation of 10,000 items and welcomes over 9,000 visitors each year!