Madison County residents can soon look in the mail for a letter from the Thompson-Hickman Library Board of Trustees asking for contributions to their capital campaign to fund an addition to the library for housing important historic records, documents and materials from the oldest county in Montana.
The 2,800 square foot expansion will add a climate controlled basement with an air-lock research room dedicated to all of the county archives, as well as handicapped accessibility, updated electrical supply, a state of the art meeting room and a special area for children.
Because the Madison County library was originally built in 1918, the need for expansion and renovation has become critical to safety and working conditions. The small library can feel crowded at times, and there is no hot water in the building, explained library director Joanne Erdall Van De Riet.
“The way that I look at it is we’ve just outgrown this room a long time ago,” she said.
Examples of historic archives and records kept at the library include old newspapers from the 1900s, diaries and a collection of obituaries from the late 1800s to early 1900s.
“The businesses that were here, how it all got started, where the mines were and everything about Alder Gulch and Virginia City is the strongest point of what we have in our archives,” said Erdall Van De Riet.
The expansion is a $650,000 project and the library has the opportunity to receive a challenge grant in the amount of $125,000 to go toward the project.
Erdall Van De Riet explained that there simply isn’t enough room for their materials.
“For our population service area, we’re supposed to have twice what we have in collection size. “
For more information about the expansion project or how to contribute to the Thompson-Hickman County Library, visit their website at www.savemontanahistory.com or contact the library at (406) 843–5346.