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Daniel Salas reads at the Solano County Library, Wednesday. The Solano County Library system will hold an event celebrating it's 100th anniversary this Saturday. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Solano Library to launch 100th birthday celebration

By From page A1 | April 03, 2014

FAIRFIELD — The Solano County Library on Saturday will celebrate a century of bringing the gift of reading and lifelong learning to the communities it serves.

“It is going to be really fun,” said Ann Miller, the library’s marketing and community relations officer.

Among those celebrating the centennial that starts at 9 a.m. will be acting California State Librarian Gerry Maginnity, who started his career as a librarian in Vallejo, and Children’s Librarian Mike Perkins, who started his career here as a young volunteer.

The celebration will take place at the Solano County Events Center, 601 Texas St., which started its life in 1931 as the Solano County Library.

After the ceremony, there will be library card signups, technology demonstrations, book giveaways, storytelling, crafts and temporary tattoos for children. Live entertainment will include Nikolas Strubbe’s Circus Acts, Keith Stout and his Alive Music Orchestra and rocket launching done by the Lawrence Hall of Science Inventors Lab.

This is just the first of a host of events at all the branches that will occur throughout the year to celebrate the centennial, ranging from a 100th anniversary party and Wild Things Animal Show at the Cordelia Library on Aug. 8 to an 100th anniversary party with Don O’Brien’s Magical Show at the Vacaville Cultural Center Library on July 8.

The legacy and history of the Solano County Library is more than merely helping people check out a book, Miller said.

The library’s efforts have include story times at the Solano Town Center mall and other places; a library at the juvenile hall; hosting book, chess and scrabble clubs; and bringing a host of performers, speakers and artists to the attention of library patrons.

This also includes a wide variety of online resources, including free car schematics, on-demand tutors and museum passes, along with eight locations for study, meetings and free access to computers and Wi-Fi.

This has come all the way from early services, that included librarians bringing books and even food to one-room residences in isolated parts of the county, music to one-room schoolhouses and even reading materials written in German to prisoners of war at Mare Island during World War I.

The Solano Board of Supervisors established the county library system in 1914 after being heavily lobbied by local women’s groups, and by 1920, the Solano County Library had eight branches and served 49 schools.

That same support was shown 98 years later when 80 percent of the county’s voters cast their ballots in 2012 to re-approve a 0.125 percent sales tax to support library services.

Although Vacaville and Vallejo had their own libraries, the Solano Library worked with both of them, as well as the libraries in Benicia and Dixon. The early cooperation between those libraries is echoed by the current SNAP (Solano, Napa, and Partners) consortium, which shares books, a catalog and databases.

The Solano County Library throughout its history remained committed to making reading and information accessible, in formats that people can understand.

Clara Dills, Solano County’s first librarian, borrowed books in Italian from the California State Library to bring to Collinsville, an Italian fishing village on the Sacramento River, because Dills said “none of the adults were able to read in any but their own language,” she said in an account she wrote.

“They were career women in a time when there were not many other jobs open to women,” Miller said of Dills and her generation.

Books and reading are synonymous with libraries, but so, too, is the never-ending effort of adopting technology as a means to bring people and information together.
Today, librarians navigate expensive licensing requirements to bring downloadable books and the devices on which they are read, to their patrons. Early librarians were equally committed to keeping up with technology, introducing phonograph records in 1918 and an early fax machine in 1968.
Solano County Library’s vigorous Adult Literacy Program celebrates 20 years this year and is dedicated to helping English and non-English speakers learn to read and write.
Libraries have long enjoyed support due to their ability to adapt to the needs of their communities:
  • In 1944, it was a Victory Branch in a Vallejo apartment building. The branch, like the apartments, sprung into existence to meet the influx of defense workers at Mare Island.
  • In 1950, pamphlets titled “How to Survive an Atomic Attack” were distributed at the library, answering a question that reverberated at a time when Hiroshima was only five years past.
  • In 1983, the library had coin-operated computers and, more than 13 years ago, the first electronic books.
By staying in touch with the needs, wants and aspirations of the people of Solano County, the library plans to stay relevant for the next 100 years, Miller said.
For more information, go to solanolibrary.com.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.
Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

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