Celebrate a ‘Century of Stories’ with an old-fashioned carnival Saturday at St. George Town Square

ST. GEORGE — Books were precious to the early pioneers of Southern Utah. They knew that self-improvement was just as important as learning to tame the harsh desert conditions and would be the key to building better lives.

Image courtesy of Washington Country Library System, St. George News

Even before one of the first libraries in the state – St. George’s Carnegie Library was completed in 1916 – settlers would raise money for the purchase of books by trading produce collected at dance parties. For Michelle Clements’ grandmother, one quart of produce meant one ticket inside.

It was the same for a lot of families down here at the time, Clements told St. George News. Although she didn’t grow up in St. George, she remembers hearing her grandmother’s stories of attending the dances to help seek out education for everyone.

“She took quart jars of molasses or quarts of bottled pears or bottles of jam and then they’d have a little auction,” Clements said. The proceeds and other items would then be taken up to Salt Lake City and exchanged for books to be returned and shared with the town.

The terrain was difficult, often taking a month or longer to make the entire trip but it helped build the foundation for education in the St. George community.

Image courtesy of Washington County Library System, St. George News

Over a century later, after humble beginnings in a building built for only $12,000 and with an inventory of less than 9,000 books, the local library system boasts a collection of over 500,000 items spread across eight branches in the county.

“My grandma used to bring me to the (Carnegie) library,” for story time Clements said, adding that two to three generations have gone by since then but the library still continues to grow and serve the community.

Today’s libraries have thousands of books, microfilm archives, rare documents, newspapers, maps, e-books, audiobooks, Wi-Fi and a wide variety of internet resources available and are always looking for new ways to help their patrons.

The new “Maker Space” areas would impress even a seasoned inventor with a 3D printer, laser engraving machine, scrapbook supplies and sewing machines available. The library also has many interactive activities and story time events for children.

Enterprise branch, date unspecified | Image courtesy of Washington County Library, St. George News

Clements said there are educational and entertainment programs available for all ages and the library’s website has several services for people with disabilities, including the Utah Library for the Blind. For anyone wishing to improve their reading ability, adult literacy programs are provided free of charge to any resident that reaches out.

Building relationships and interacting with local schools is an important part of their mission at the library. Clements said the library hosts a lot of home-schooled students at all of their branches and works with the Utah Online school quite often.

“We try to support them and be an alternative resource,” she said. “We love our community and we love our patrons and all of the support we’ve received over the years.”

On Saturday, May 18, the Washington County Library System is celebrating a “Century of Stories” with a huge anniversary party next door to its main branch at the historic St. George Town Square.

The old-fashioned carnival will have tons of interactive games for the kids, cakes and treats, bounce houses, a photo booth all day and everything is absolutely free, Clements said. “It’s exciting.”

The celebration begins at 11 a.m. The first hour will feature old-fashioned games, including a three-legged race, sack races, crafts and a rock hunt and continue from noon until 2 p.m. with free carousel rides, carnival games and treats for everyone.

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News

•S P O N S O R E D  C O N T E N T•

Event details

  • What: A “Century of Stories” Washington County Library anniversary celebration.
  • When: Saturday, May 18, 2019, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Where: St. George Town Square Square Park, 55 S. Main St. George.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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