Daily Archives: March 16, 2012

‘Bainbridge Public Library: Built by and for the people of Bainbridge Island’

This week, Bainbridge Islander reporter Tad Sooter delved into the history of the Bainbridge Public Library, which celebrates its 50th birthday on Saturday (Mar. 17), starting at 10 a.m.


On an August day in 1960, several thousand islanders flooded the Winslow shipyard’s administration building to support a cause that had kept Bainbridge buzzing that summer.

Inside, crowds perused tables heaped with used household items for sale, as two auctioneers took bids on big ticket items. Notable amid the goods offered that day were two live sheep, a 500 gallons of furnace oil and a generous side of beef. One discerning shopper carried away a stuffed seal.

This was the first-ever Bainbridge Rotary Auction, and it was organized for a single purpose: to help pay for a new public library. The club added nearly $6,000 from that sale to a pot of community money that soon reached $35,000.

On March 17, 1962, the new Kitsap Regional Library branch opened on Madison Avenue, with a building and property furnished entirely through donations. As library supporters look back on 50 years of history this month, they see a legacy created and sustained by members of the community, whose contributions keep the library’s lights on and doors open.

“It speaks to the willingness of people on this island to step forward and build something if they don’t have it,” Bainbridge Public Library volunteer board President Pat Miller said. “There’s a lot of pride in that I think.”

The library will celebrate its anniversary with an open house on Saturday, and 1960s-themed events throughout the spring.
The open house will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the library, 1270 Madison Ave. Visitors can join in activities and view history exhibits illuminating the library’s past.

In a way, the past 50 years are only the latest chapter in the history of Bainbridge libraries.
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