Library History

Sandpoint Building History

The library was originally the Sandpoint Public Library. It was located upstairs in the City Hall building on Main and Second. 

Local Congressman Burton L. French pushed an appropriation bill through Congress to provide funding for the $73,300 project. As a result, the building opened in 1928 and remained home to the post office until 1967, when the new facility was built. The Spanish Colonial Revival style, seen also in the Panida Theater, was uncommon in northern Idaho, although it was popular elsewhere in the country. Its use here may be attributed to plans drawn by a U.S. Treasury Department architect who was more familiar with national trends than regional ones. The building is unique in Sandpoint with its rich cast concrete decorations surrounding the doorways and upper windows. The row of gracefully arched windows is divided with pilasters topped by capitals containing gargoyles, an unusual feature in Idaho architecture.

In December of 1967, after the post office moved to its new location and the building was remodeled, a chain of high school students from the Class of '68 moved the books from City Hall to the building at 419 North Second Avenue, the library's previous home in the City Hall Building. The building the library occupied from 1968 to April of 2000 originally served Sandpoint as a federal building, housing the post office, Forest Service, and other governmental offices.

In 1974 the East Bonner County Library District was formed after a vote of the county residents.  The boundaries of the district are shared by Bonner General Hospital District, encompassing the eastern portion of Bonner County from approximately just east of Priest River to the Montana border.

By the late 1980's the library district had outgrown the Sandpoint facility.  Initially, renovating and remodeling the existing building was considered. The inability to resolve parking problems, a requirement to bring the building to ADA standards, and the high costs associated with that, in addition to the costs of the remodel alone, eliminated that option. Over the course of about 10 years, attempts to pass a levy or bond to build a new facility failed. Finally, in May of 1998, the patrons passed a bond that would build new facilities in Sandpoint and Clark Fork as well as purchase a Bookmobile.

The current Sandpoint facility opened its doors in 2000. It is more than triple the space of the building at Second and Alder and has three meeting rooms for the public. This Sandpoint Branch is located at Cedar and Division Streets.

Clark Fork Building History

The Clark Fork branch of the East Bonner County Free Library District opened its doors in January 1985. It has been a community project, conceived by a group who wanted to move the private library started by Emma Rathbun, owner of the Clark Fork Mercantile (no longer in business) out of the Merc basement and into a facility where it would be more accessible. After meetings with the Library Board, who gave the go-ahead for a branch library, the group arranged for the vocational carpentry class to build a library on property provided by the City of Clark Fork. Fundraisers of all kinds were planned, materials were donated or made available at cost, the land was prepared, and construction started in October 1984. Upon completion of the construction, the building was deeded to the City of Clark Fork.  In January 1985, the doors were opened with a grand celebration featuring Paul Croy and Pat McManus. The collection that was on the shelves included some of the books from the "on-your-honor" library that operated out of the basement of the old Mercantile as well as many more items that were moved to the new library branch from the main library in Sandpoint.

In the ensuing years, the branch has grown by leaps and bounds. It has become computerized, and in 1995 the length of the building was increased by eight feet. When the expanded building was reopened, usage quadrupled! We moved into our new building at 601 Main Street in October 1999, and usage continued to increase dramatically. The branch provides public use computers for accessing the Internet, doing word processing or other projects, color and black-and-white printing, and more, and two iPads for children. Services include children's Story Time (during the school year), Youth Summer Reading, help getting acquainted with computers, and limited homebound services. We offer public meeting rooms for community use.

The Clark Fork Library branch was remodeled in the fall of 2010 to add approximately 700 square feet of new space and modified existing spaces to improve employee work areas and facilitate the expansion of library collections and services. The Library worked with Architects West, a firm from Couer d’Alene. The community meeting room double the capacity of the previous room and half of the existing garage was converted to public space for the AV collection. There is also an area for Children's Books, added space for laptop computer use, and more room was created for adding new material to the collection. Also, a covered carport was created to help transfer materials in and out of the building without risk of water damage.

Back to Top