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.