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Statement Recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the Fort Bragg Library

Jan 18, 2011
Floor Statements

Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the first hundred years or continuous service by the Fort Bragg Library on the Mendocino Coast in Northern California. From its beginning on January 18, 1911, Fort Bragg's beloved library has persevered through funding cuts, political ballot measures and an arson fire. It has flourished due to the ongoing support of the Mendocino Coast community.

Located in picturesque Fort Bragg, California, a former mill town that was incorporated in 1889, the library was opened with collections from the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Union Lumber Company library. When the Union Lumber Company offered to donate property, plans were drawn and the library was built on Main Street and opened in January 1913. By 1924 the average monthly attendance had grown from 311 to 2,053. In the library's first decades, activities including new books received, hours of operation and programs available were regularly reported in the weekly newspaper.

In 1966, the Fort Bragg Library joined the two-year-old county library system. The City of Fort Bragg owned the building but the library was run by the county. The Mendocino Coast Genealogical Society rented space in the mezzanine. The biggest booster came when community members created the Friends of the Library in 1974 with the intent of upgrading the facility.

Tragedy struck on September 20, 1987, when the library was destroyed by fire seven minutes after another historic structure on Main Street, the Piedmont Hotel, was set ablaze. The Friends of the Fort Bragg Library and the community immediately came together to restore the library.

In their search for an existing building the purchase of a former mortuary was proposed using fire insurance money. The county, city and Friends of the Library partnered to buy and remodel the building. The library reopened on May 25, 1989, stocked with thousands of books donated by book dealers, libraries and individuals.

In 1996, the Fort Bragg Library was the first branch in Mendocino County to open Internet access. Over the years the Friends of the Library had wisely invested and wanted to modernize the library for the new millennium. They contributed $470,000 to the library's remodel which was completed with a celebration on July 3, 2007. Use of the new and improved Fort Bragg Library soared and became equal to and sometimes exceeded the operations of the County's main library at the county seat in Ukiah.

Mr. Speaker and colleagues, for its hundred years (and counting) historic and civic importance and invaluable service to the community it is appropriate that we honor the Fort Bragg Library.