Roots of the Library

Late 1930’s-1949

First library established by American Legion Auxiliary in the courthouse, books moving several times as space required. Following end of WWII the library was reorganized as a Living Memorial to the servicemen of Clearwater County.  The AAUW and a county planning commission had a fund drive and collected $2500.  Six hundred donated books were collected and the library opened for business in the front half of a storeroom of the I00F Hall October 8, 1949. Children’s books were borrowed from the State Traveling Library in Boise. 


Library became a non-profit corporation March 27, 1950 and the library moved again, into the new VFW Post 3296 building on Michigan Ave. In 1952 , a serviceman’s memorial tax was authorized for library operations funding, amounting to $4000-$5000 per year. (Collection numbered 1,593.)


Not enough space in the VFW room prompted DR. H.D. Britan to donate his home rent-free for library use during his lifetime. The Orofino Jaycees raised over $8000 to match the first federal grant funds to remodel the house.  This $20,000 project was completed and the Clearwater Memorial Public Library opened Nov. 18, 1965 with a collection of 7,500 and the library was open 18 hrs. per week.


Voter approved formation of the Clearwater County Free Library District which supports the Weippe Public Library directly, and through a contract provides operating expenses for the CMPL.


Dr. Britan willed the deed of the property to the library.  In 1974 planning for further expansion began.  The library district made $4,800 available as a building certificate, and the community raised $8000 in the form of money, time, and materials to match an LSCA grant of $12,000 to build a 1,060 sq.ft. wing for much needed space. Project completed February 10, 1975 with an open house.


More expansion required.  Adjoining property to the east was purchased and 1,300 sq. feet were added with an LSCA grand of $35,000 and $48,000 in local donations. The new wing was opened August, 1984, and the collection was 24,637 books, 700 records, and 75 tapes.  Library now open 45.5 hrs. per week with 3.5 employees.


Library entered the computer age allowing for interlibrary loans and resource sharing among libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada.  An automated circulation system was added.


An adult literacy project was added with operating funds from an LSCA grant, remodeling a small building behind the library which served as a tutoring cener and office.  Federal grant funds supported the project for three years, but since then it has operated with donations and other grants.  The Adult Learning Center now is a separate non-profit organization and housed elsewhere.


Access to internet and VALNet regional circulation consortium began which links libraries throughout the region with courier delivery service of reading materials..


Volunteer hours built new shelves and computer counters and remodeled the office.  Numerous grants helped provide new computers. 

2002 Library collection now numbered 30,369 books and magazines, 350 audio books, and 360 videos.  Subscribed to 52 different magazines  and newspapers, and 800 children attended programs throughout the year.


Adjacent property acquired and rented out for a nominal sum to the Clearwater Youth Alliance (LEAP program)


New copper roof replace the old cedar roof. A new Friends of the Library was formed, becoming known as the Library Friends, with a non-profit status and a charter.  This group has worked continuously to help provide CMPL with numerous needs as well as landscaping and maintenance. Since 2010 the group has concentrated on major fundraising in the summer as needs have increased.


Ellen Tomlinson became Director.

The Library was nominated for the Michael Pritikin Rural Library Fund Award and won books worth $18,000.  Ellen was awarded RIF (Reading is Fundamental) Ambassador for Idaho in 2010.

2010-2015 (Condensed)

In the following years the library did a lot of maintenance and improvements.  New paved parking behind the library, a ramp from the parking area, universal design bathrooms and door openings,  new heat pump for the adult wing, all overhead lighting replaced, windows and wall replaced in the children’s wing, new doors and safety glass in the foyer, new printer/copier, new telephone system, and light-filtering blinds for patrons’ comfort.  Landscaping was carried out all around the library due to the Friends’ membership.  In fact, the Library Friends made most of the above  happen through fundraisers held at Jo Moore’s facility, The High Country Inn,  over six years’  time.

A wind storm brought down the huge spruce tree in the front of the library and opened up the library for the town to admire.

CMPL joined the State of Idaho BTOP grant.  The library then acquired high speed, wireless internet 24/7 for library and patron use.  The grant updated the computers and added more.  We also acquired Epads and Ebooks for training and use.  We have 38,622 items (books, DVDs, CDs, magazines, audio books and newspapers) and we ae a member of ValNet with 49 other libraries as members and an additional 664,023 items available to our patrons.

Clearwater Memorial Public Library recently acquired the adjacent Smather’s property with the intention of expansion.  Our patron count is up to 3735 and we are open 50 hours a week.