A Century in the Books: Camas library to celebrate centennial

Events throughout 2023 will honor library's 100th birthday; January events include Second Story Gallery show featuring Post-Record's first 50 years and 'Woman Who Shaped Camas' panel

Camas Public Library Director Connie Urquhart shows one of the original features of the historic library building located at 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., in downtown Camas, on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

A Camas library employee researches copies of old Camas Post-Record newspapers inside the Camas Public Library building on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

Christopher Knipes, an administrative assistant at the Camas Public Library, holds a T-shirt featuring the library's 100th anniversary "A Century in the Books" slogan on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Contributed photo courtesy of Camas Public Library)

The Urie building, which housed Thayer's Drugstore, is pictured in 1922. The Camas library opened inside the downtown Camas drugstore with a 150-book collection on April 4, 1923. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

Books are stacked in the oldest part of the Camas Public Library on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The library will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record)

Camas Fire Department staff stand in front of their station in 1951. The fire station was part of Camas City Hall in 1951. This section of the Camas Public Library building now houses the children's library. The open, roll-up doors pictured are in the same spot where the big windows inside the children's library overlook the library's courtyard.

The Camas Public Library will kick off a yearlong celebration this week, with the first of many 2023 events honoring the library’s 100th birthday.

Camas Mayor Steve Hogan proclaimed the entire year of 2023, “The Year of the Camas Public Library Centennial” on Tuesday, Jan. 3, and said the local library “has proven itself to be an integral part of the community, providing friendly service, a home for readers and those in pursuit of knowledge, and a welcoming place to gather.”

On Friday, Jan 6, from 5 to 8 p.m., the library will host a free reception for its first centennial-themed event of the year, the “Read All About It” exhibit featuring this newspaper’s first 50 years (1908-1958) that will be displayed in the library’s Second Story Gallery through the end of February.

“This show will consist of reproduced cover pages from our local newspaper, which was originally called LaCamas Post and is now the Camas-Washougal Post-Record,” the library noted on its “A Century in the Books” website highlighting the library’s centennial-related events and programs. “The reproduced cover pages will reveal to patrons a snapshot of what was happening in our community throughout these years, while also highlighting the local coverage of regional events and reporting on national headlines.”

Camas library staff are planning to have an all-day celebration on the library’s actual 100th birthday on April 4, but will continue to host centennial events throughout the year.

Other January events celebrating the library’s 100th birthday include a “Women Who Shaped Camas” event at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at the newly renovated Joyce Garver Theater, located at 1500 N.E. Garfield St., Camas.

Bradley Richardson, the executive director of the Clark County Historical Museum, will lead a live panel discussion with four notable women — Second Story Gallery founder Barbara Baldus, former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen, Downtown Camas Association (DCA) Executive Director Carrie Schulstad and Camas historian Virginia Warren — who have helped shape Camas.

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the library’s meeting rooms A and B, library staff will host a “Kids Time Capsule” event with craft materials for children and their adult chaperones to build their own time capsules and take them home.

Walking through history and telling our stories

The library will continue its centennial celebration from Feb. 13 through March 18, with a 100-word story contest asking Camasonians of all ages to submit an original, unpublished story that is exactly 100 words in length.

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, the library will journey into the Roaring Twenties with its teen movie night featuring Baz Lurhmann’s “The Great Gatsby.”

In March and April, the library’s Second Story Gallery will feature “A Century in the Books” exhibit showcasing the library’s many milestones — from the first discussions of a library during a Camas Women’s Club meeting in March 1920 and the opening of the first 150-book Camas library inside Thayer’s drugstore in downtown Camas on April 4, 1923, to its first story hour event for 60 children on Jan. 10, 1948, the introduction of the library’s first internet-connected computer on Jan. 1, 1996, and the current library’s extensive remodel and expansion in the early 2000s.

Every Second Story Gallery show in 2023, will celebrate local history. In May and June, the gallery will feature artists’ reflections on what local history means to them. In July and August, the gallery will showcase local Camas students’ artwork. And the gallery will come full-circle in November and December, with another exhibit featuring The Post-Record’s front pages and headlines from the late 1950s through the early 2000s.

Library staff hope to not only celebrate history this year, but also to help future generations better understand Camas of yesteryear and today.

Camas Library Director Connie Urquhart told The Post-Record earlier this year that the library hopes to collect stories from community members for a “memory library.” Though it is not yet up and running, the Memory Library will collect oral histories using prompt questions through a variety of mediums. Participants will be able to record their stories from a computer or other home device, or can choose to record their oral history contributions inside a quiet “zen booth” that will operate out of the library’s physical location at 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., in downtown Camas.

“We are honored to celebrate the Library’s 100th year. We aspire to bring to our community events and learning opportunities throughout the entire year, which will reveal the Library’s history, while infusing some fun events that weave in our present and even our future,” Urquhart said. “We’ll ask for your stories, too. Because the library is you, and us and everyone here in Camas.”

The first question people will be asked to answer for the Memory Library is, “What is your first memory of the Camas Public Library?”

Some longtime community members may remember when the library and Camas City Hall shared a building — located on the current Camas Public Library site — in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. Others might recall the signing of the first collective bargaining agreement for city of Camas employees, including library staff, in July 1974, or that the Friends of the Camas Public Library group formed in 1981. More recent Camasonians might remember when voters agreed to pass a nearly $8 million bond in March 2000, to renovate and expand the library — or when the library had to move its entire collection into the former National Guard Armory building on Northwest 10th Avenue — and when the library building people enjoy today opened on May 10, 2003.

Director: Centennial celebrations could help overcome divisions

The library will create centennial versions for many of its recurring programs, including its bookmark contest, book clubs, podcast club and trivia night, throughout 2023, and is offering patrons a chance to turn their library card in for a new, special edition “centennial” card.

The library held a centennial slogan contest in 2022, to decide the best slogan for its centennial celebration. Camas resident Gary Abrahamsen’s winning slogan, “A Century in the Books,” beat more than 200 other entries. The library plans to sell and distribute merchandise — mugs, T-shirts, stickers and totes — featuring the “A Century in the Books” slogan throughout the year.

Planning a yearlong celebration isn’t something that happens overnight. Camas library staff, stakeholders, board members and Friends of the Camas Public Library members have been working on the library’s 100th birthday celebration since June 2022, and have tried to plan a year’s worth of events that will celebrate the library as well as local history and will help unite the community.

The library’s most recent community survey showed many Camasonians are tired of feeling divided from their neighbors following four years of political upheaval and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are tired of being divided,” Urquhart told The Post-Record earlier this year. “They want a reason to come together. And this (the centennial celebration) feels like a reason. The library is a place where we all belong.”

For more information about the library’s centennial events, visit cityofcamas.us/library/page/centennial.

Upcoming Camas Public Library centennial events:

“Read All About It”

What: Reception for the Camas Public Library’s exhibit featuring The Post-Record’s first 50 years (1908-1958), giving people “a snapshot of what was happening in our community throughout these years, while also highlighting the local coverage of regional events and reporting on national headlines.”

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6

Where: Second Story Gallery on the second floor of the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas

“Women Who Shaped Camas”

What: Clark County Historical Museum Director Bradley Richardson will lead a live panel discussion with four women who have helped shape Camas: Second Story Gallery founder Barbara Baldus, former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen, Downtown Camas Association (DCA) Executive Director Carrie Schulstad and Camas historian Virginia Warren.

When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21

Where: Joyce Garver Theater, 1500 N.E. Garfield St., Camas