The Merriam Webster dictionary defines library as “a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (such as books, manuscripts, recordings or films) are kept for use but not for sale.” You will recognize your local library as a building where: your community can gather for events; your children can gain valuable reading skills through children’s programming; you have access to Wi-Fi and computer services; and where you can access thousands of items to take home and enjoy for free.

It is important to remember that the buildings that hold this treasury of knowledge also hold a place in the history of our communities. There are seven locations in the Latah County Library District system, all providing public libraries to their communities. Each building has a unique and interesting history.

The Moscow Library opened in March of 1901 in one room of the Brown Building in downtown Moscow with 115 donated books. Eventually, a lot was purchased on the corner of Second and Jefferson streets, and a Mission-style structure funded by Andrew Carnegie was completed in 1906 for just under $10,000. 1982 saw the last major remodel and addition to the original Carnegie building. The Moscow branch serves as headquarters of the Latah County Library District and houses the district’s administration, adult services, youth services, branch services and technical services departments.

The Juliaetta Community Library is housed in what used to be the top story of a building built in 1898. The ground floor was removed and the second floor was placed on a foundation at the current site. This building housed the Rebekahs for more than 50 years and was donated to the city for use as a library in 1977. Remnants of the original use are still evident in the design of the interior space.

The Troy Community Library was opened in the summer of 1977 and was originally located in an office building on Main Street. A lot was donated by Key Bank of Idaho and a new library building was constructed with generous donations from Chet and Violet Whittaker and fundraising efforts by the Friends of the Troy Library. The new library, with its red brick exterior and arched windows facing onto Main Street, was dedicated September 1994.

The Deary library opened in 1981 in a tiny cinderblock building on the east side of town. Members of the Deary community volunteered their time to build the current home of the library on a parcel of land donated for that purpose at a cost of about $10,000. The Deary library has been in its new quarters since 1988.

Bovill’s current library building was moved in from Elk River and was a Catholic church prior to the existing remodel, when it was turned into a library in 1997. The White family donated the money to fix up the building while the land and the building itself were donated by a local Bovill family. The facility opened in July 1999, after hundreds of hours of volunteer labor in renovations and upgrades.

The Potlatch library began in 1908 as a public reading room in the basement of the Union Church, primarily serving as a place where the company town’s many bachelors could spend their leisure time. In 1930, the Potlach Lumber Company provided a building, and the library moved into the frame structure that had served as the community’s first hospital. In 1971, a new building was built at 635 Pine Street from donations by local patrons and businesses. In August of 1998, enough funds had been secured to win a matching federal grant and construction of a new facility was completed in January 2000.

The Genesee Community Library was opened in 1969. The library moved to the American Legion building in Genesee in 1976 after the original building was determined to be inadequate. The library is still housed in this location, adjacent to the senior center and Genesee City Hall.

These buildings are local landmarks in their respective communities and are open to everyone. Take a drive sometime and visit these buildings to explore the varied differences that bring these neighborhoods together.

Davis is the branch manager of the Juliaetta branch of the Latah County Library District.

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