Augusta’s first library was closed during World War II. For a while after that, residents had a lending book service initiated by Suzy Holt, who worked with the State Library to supply books to the community.
In 1973 meetings were held between Lewis and Clark county commissioners and Clint DeSonia, Director of the Helena Public Library, in hopes of securing a permanent library for Augusta. In July that same year, Augusta residents received a collection of 2 – 3,000 volumes of books available to readers of all ages. Suzy Holt and Mary Allen hauled books to Augusta from the Helena Library in the back of a pickup
The library was contained in the Multi-Service Center with Suzy Holt as the librarian. In 1975 Janet Mithchell was hired to replace Suzy Holt, and later Millie McCann was hired when Janet Mitchell moved away from the area.
The building we now know as the Augusta Library was built in 1977, with the board members and spouses helping move everything in in 1978.
Janet Varland was the librarian from 1977 and retired in 2009. After which Susan Geise took over until 2013 when she became a county commissioner. On July 1, 2013, Holly Herring became the librarian.
The library now has several programs and services they provide. Not only do they lend out books, they also have a collection of non-book items called the library of things. The Augusta Library has a telescope you can check out if you want to stargaze, a globe of the Earth, and 2 hotspots.
Helena has several other items available such as laptops, musical instruments, toys, games, and even a sewing machine. You can see the full list of the library of things on the website, www.lclibrary.org and the courier comes every Wednesday if you need to borrow any of these items.
Holly has story time for the kids once a week on Wednesdays. She mostly does it by herself but on occasion someone else will take over. This starts with play time, then they read 2 – 3 books and then more play time, and sometimes even singing songs.
The library also hosts the after-school program for the kids once a month. “Cindy Gonzalez brings the kids over to the library or the community center depending on the activity. They come for about an hour, then they go back to the school.” Explained Holly.
Cindy is also always looking for people to do stuff with the kids. She had them at Taylor Agency once with Theresa playing guitar, she took them on field trips to look at fossils, and they have been to Wagons West for cookie decorating.
“We are an affiliate for the Dolly Pardon affiliate library paid for with grant money.” Explained Holly. “Susan Geise started it originally and I have continued it. With this program parents can register their baby birth to age 5 and get a free book in the mail every month. You can sign up online on our website. I get a message saying you have registrations pending, I check to make sure the addresses are correct and in the right zip code and approve them, then they start receiving their books.”
“They graduate out of the program as soon as they turn 5 or move out of the area. Sheena at the Post Office doesn’t forward them. If they have moved, I keep the books and use them for giveaways. These are not borrowed books, the kids get to keep them.” She continued.
Holly explained “We also host 1000 books before kindergarten program. You read one thousand books to your child before they go to kindergarten. You get milestones at 100, 200, and so on with prizes and stickers. When they register, they get a bag with information and a free book.”
There is a book club for adults that meets once a month. The books are suggested by the members, and the library usually has 6 copies of the book available and sometimes the book is available on eBook or audio. There are usually 8 people on average who attend, as well as the private Facebook group with 85 members which helps when people get stuck in the winter or other issues traveling to the library.
The library also contains 2 public computers that can print to the laser jet printer with Wi-Fi and remote printing, fax and scanner and copier all free except copies are 10cents each for ink and paper.
And don’t forget the free library, which isn’t your usual paperback exchange. Besides paperbacks, there are also hardcovers, kids’ books, and sometimes DVDs.
Holly is also the Liaison between the community and the county. If you need use of The Community Center, talk to her to schedule your event. She meets with the county every other week, so if people from the community have questions for the county or have issues with the center let her know and she can bring it up at the meeting. Or you can take it up at government day which is once a month on the second Friday at the community center.
Holly goes to Helena once a month to rotate books, taking ones that have been here a while and exchanging them for different ones.
In closing, Holly expressed her joys of her position at the library. “It’s the best job I ever had. I wish I had known about library work when I was younger, I probably would have pursued it more. It’s perfect for me, I was able to work 26 hours a week and be with my kids and go to their sporting events and all that.”
For more information, please visit https://www.lclibrary.org/143/Augusta or call (406) 562-3348.