How does one go about starting a county free library? This and many other questions had to be answered in 1945 when Vera Roeseler, acting Superintendent of Schools, and Sylvia Coriell, Miss Roeseler’s clerk, took on the monumental task of looking into the possibility of county-wide library services.

In order to bring the matter of a county library to the attention of the county commissioners, petitions had to be signed by at least 10% of the resident taxpayers of the county, at least half of whom reside outside the county seat. After notice had been published for four weeks, a hearing could be held and the commissioners could determine the necessity of establishing a county free library.

Letters explaining what needed to be accomplished and petition forms were sent to interested people throughout the county in June, 1945. Vera and Sylvia were shocked with the response. The county had 1200 resident taxpayers registered to vote in June, so 130 signatures would be needed to attain 10%. When the petition forms were returned at the end of the month, they contained the signatures of 297 resident taxpayers and 114 others for a total of 411 names. Vera and Sylvia had received the cooperation of people from all over the county, as every section was represented on the petitions. Of the 297 signatures, only 85 were from Stanford.

The collected names were turned over to the county commissioners on July 5, 1945. Also, a petition in writing was filed with the commissioners requesting the establishment of a county free library.The commissioners advertised the notice of a hearing for four weeks, the hearing date being August 7, 1945.

On August 7, county commissioners examined the signatures and agreed that the petitions had been signed by more than 10% of the resident taxpayers and at least half of them resided outside the county seat.

The commissioners took the matter of the establishment of the county library under advisement until August 11, when it had been further and fully considered by all the commissioners to be in the best interest of the people of Judith Basin County that the petition for a county library be granted.

The county library was to be supported by a levy on the taxable property value of the county. The commissioners made a levy that would provide about $5,000 for the library’s support and maintenance during the coming year. They could set the maximum amount.

The commissioners felt the running of the library should be under the direction of the county Superintendent of Schools and Vera Roeseler was appointed to the librarian’s position.Miss Roeseler held that position until Bob McGuire returned from his tour of duty in the Navy during World War II. He then took over the direction of the library.

Bob had the task of purchasing the first books. Also at this time, the Stanford Women’s club sold its collection of books to the county library. The library consisted of approximately 4,300 volumes. Bob weeded out the volumes that were to be kept and those that were to be discarded.  After all the sorting was done, 1,500 books became the core collection for the newly established county library.

January through March was spent finding book suppliers and ordering new children’s books.

Because Mr. McGuire had plenty of responsibilities as county superintendent, Elva Wineman was appointed the first full-time county librarian in 1946. The books were housed in a room adjacent to the county superintendent’s office in the county courthouse.

The library remained in the county courthouse until 1960, when it moved to its present location in the brick building north of the courthouse. N.B. Matthews, president of Basin State Bank, built the present building as a memorial to his wife, Loretta. An addition was created in 1979 to accommodate the growing collection of books and magazines.