BISBEE, Ariz. (AP) — Bisbee's 137-year-old Copper Queen Library is getting national recognition, thanks to an innovative range of services such as a seed library for gardeners and early literacy programs.
Opened in 1882 as part of a mining company store, the library has evolved and expanded since mine owner Phelps Dodge turned it over to the city in 1976.
In its Sept. 6 writeup on the award, Library Journal noted that Bisbee's library took action when budget cuts forced the Cochise County Library District to park its bookmobile.
After two years of planning, the library opened a rural annex in December to serve roughly 150 families in Bisbee's San Jose neighborhood and residents of the nearby border town of Naco.
Using an all-volunteer staff and bookshelves built by high school students, the grant-funded annex provides everything from preschool reading services to books and computers for adults.
The library opened in 1882 with a small collection of books sent from back east. It moved to its current location, upstairs from the post office, in 1907.
Photos from its early days show a few shelves of books upstairs and tables on the main floor surrounded by men playing cards.
The spittoons are gone now, but Library Manager Jason Macoviak said the library still uses some of the original furniture and still serves as a community gathering place.
Bisbee is home to about 5,500 people, and Macoviak said roughly 3,000 of them carry library cards.
Los Angeles City Librarian John Szabo visited Bisbee's library when he was in town in early September after a long-lost bronze sculpture that formerly sat outside the Los Angeles Public Library turned up in a Bisbee antique shop.
Szabo said it is a "very, very big deal" that the Copper Queen won the Library Journal's award and said the honor was well-deserved.
"I immediately could tell it was a wonderful library," he said.