Most Viewed Stories
City library to mark 60th anniversary
On March 4, 1953, city historian Howard J. Frame described the newly-constructed Porterville City Library on Thurman Avenue as “the seat of culture in Porterville.”
“It is quite fitting that this library should have been erected for the boys and girls, those who are now as well as all others who are seeking further knowledge. It is a place that will be used by all for many years to come,” Frame writes in a document he prepared for the new building’s dedication 60 years ago. The document is found in “A Centennial Celebration of the Porterville Public Library,” a history of the library from 1908-2008 compiled by Melanie Wells and Sharon Patterson.
Today, Frame’s words likely resonate with many of the thousands of library users who make use of its resources, services and programs on a regular basis.
Friday marks the 60th anniversary of the library at its Thurman Avenue location.
The city’s first library was constructed in 1908 on the corner of Main Street and Thurman Avenue. According to “Early Porterville History” by local historian Ina Stiner, the money for the lot was raised by a special tax levied by the city, and purchased for $6,000. With the help of a $10,000 Carnegie grant, the Porterville Carnegie Library, a Spanish-style building designed by O.H. Huber, was erected and officially opened in 1908. Due to deteriorating conditions, the building was condemned and its contents were moved to the City Hall basement in 1947. The city’s first library was demolished in 1949.
Bids for the construction of a new library were opened in March of 1952. In May of the same year, the Porterville City Council accepted the low bid by a Los Angeles construction company in the amount of $58,000. The new library included a main reading room, a youth room, entrance and lobby, and a work room. The mezzanine included a staff room and rest room, as well as heating and cooling equipment.
It wasn’t until Jan. 5, 1974, that the Wilko Mentz home, located between the Porterville fire station and the library, was demolished to make way for a significant addition. The changes included moving the children’s section downstairs, doubling the size of the children and juvenile area, moving reference upstairs, adding two typing rooms and a seminar room, moving one office to the first floor, and adding a cultural room for community activities.
Initially, the addition had an estimated cost of $320,000. The winning bid came in at $338,858 by a Bakersfield company. The July 31, 1975, dedication ceremonies included a ribbon cutting, private lunch and a presentation by Allen Stuart Drury, a Porterville High School graduate and Pulitzer Prize winner.
The library’s 60th anniversary month-long celebration kicks off with root beer floats at 11 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. Friday. Library patrons are also being asked to visit the library and fill out a “due date” card to share their library memories to be used in a display.
They can also visit the library’s Facebook page and share their favorite library memories by leaving a comment.
The library will also be giving away special 60th anniversary bookmarks.
For more information on the event or on the library’s services and programs, visit the library at 41 W. Thurman Ave., call 784-0177 or visit www.portervillelibrary.org and www.facebook.com/portervillelibrary.