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Heart of America Library celebrates 50 years in present location

By Staff | Aug 2, 2019

Bryce Berginski/PCT The Heart of America Library celebrated 50 years in its current location, across the street from Ely Elementary School, in Rugby.

The Heart of America Library recently celebrated 50 years in its current location.

According to Library Director Vicki Hoffart, 50 to 60 visitors came to the library last week to celebrate the 50th anniversary in its current location with an open house.

Hoffart said that while many of those who visited the library’s open house were those who have been to the library before, some visitors received a tour of the facility.

“You get an opportunity then to familiarize people with all the things we have,” Hoffart said, adding that in addition to books other things the library offers include wireless internet access, public computers, movies, magazines, newspapers and books on tape. “It’s fun to familiarize people with that.”

In the early 1960s, land had been purchased from George Davidson for a 50’x70′ building. In 1963 John Anderson willed three houses to be sold proceeds of which went toward providing a public library. The properties were sold to the highest bidder for $10,000.

A Builders Club was launched to work on the library project, which was expected to cost $65,000. The Rugby Women’s Club was the first donor to the Builders Club, giving $1,350. The Women’s Club also sponsored a blood donor program through which the Minot Regional Blood Program paid $10/pint, raising $850 for the library as well. A petition effort by the Pierce County Homemakers Club and Future Farmers of America resulted in a 1 mill county levy for the project as well.

In June 1969, books were moved from City Hall to the library’s present location. Also in that month, the dedication ceremony was held in the elementary school gym, with Minot State College professor emeritus and state author Lyla Hoffine as the guest speaker. The library opened in its new home in July 1969.

Since then, the library has received and added several features, including a microfiche reader in 1978; Story Hour and Summer Reading Programs; re-roofing and added insulation in 1985; new windows in 1994; a CD-ROM player and software for the library’s computer system in 1995; internet service in 1998; Chroma CCD (a machine that magnifies text for vision-impaired persons) in 2000; becoming a site for testing and adult education in 2002; collection converted to an automated system in 2005; an expansion and elevator addition; and a Merlin LCD magnifier in 2008.

Hoffart said something she would like to see in the future is a website that people can use to access historical in-county newspapers.

“I think people that are interested in community history, family histories would use and find those interesting,” Hoffart said.

Hoffart said it is important for the library to continue adding to its collection.

One way the library adds to its collection begins with someone asking whether or not the library has a certain book. A form is filled out at the front desk, and Hoffart said the book in question will most often be ordered.

If we don’t have it I will often order it and put it on our shelves,” said Hoffart, “Because if someone’s interested, most likely there will be others.”

Hoffart said most of the books that become new additions are works of fiction, however the library has also added several works of non-fiction, including books about diabetes and social sciences. Another area that sees continual addition is the library’s North Dakota collection.

Although the library has been in its present location for 50 years, its actual history dates back even longer.

In November 1903 the Rugby Women’s Club formed and opened a public reading room in a space at the China Parlors.

In 1911 the library was in the courthouse, and was only open two afternoons a week.

In 1916 the Women’s Club turned the library over to the City due to financing difficulties. Between 1912 and 1928, the library had been moved to a building where an old Texaco station stood.

In 1928, the library moved to the City Hall basement It and its 10,000-11,000 books later moved to the main floor, and was open 40 hours a week.

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