Pine Library Friends presented a most fascinating program featuring the history of our wonderful little Isabella Hunt Memorial Library. Several of the founding members, early members of Library Friends and even the librarians attended this gathering.
Isabella Hunt was a teacher at the Pine School for many years. She had a dream. She felt that even little communities should have a library and she worked tirelessly encouraging others to share and build on her dream. She died in 1973.
An organizational meeting was held in May 1974 and a Board of Trustees was elected. Among them were Robert Ritter, Carol Lee, Judy Sturm and Beryl Randall Francis.
It was agreed that the library would be named after Isabella Hunt. Ritter, who had owned bookstores for many years, was the driving force along with his wife, Wilma, who was an experienced librarian. Ralph and Velma Fuller donated a cabin, which became the original, temporary home of the library.
The original shipment consisted of 2,600 books. The Library Friends and the Pine/Strawberry Homemakers were busy with fund-raising efforts such as ice cream socials, bake sales and quilt raffles. This original cabin/library now stands in Randall Park across from the Pine Community Center. Part of the original collection of books is on display in this building. This tiny library opened on Aug. 12, 1974 with about 3,000 books.
Already, the space was too small and plans were beginning for a new building. Robert Ritter traveled extensively, visiting governmental agencies and searching for funds.
Dorothy Ferguson wrote countless letters seeking grants and Nancy Busch drew up a grant proposal.
With the assistance of Congressman Eldon Rudd and the Gila County Board of Supervisors, a building grant of $42,000 was secured. Alma Hunt, husband of Isabella, donated the land for the new library. The new, bigger library opened in 1978 with about 7,000 books.
Originally, a room in the library served as a museum to house the collection administered by the Pine Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society. A major portion of this collection was artifacts found on the property of Dorothy Ferguson. As the need for library space grew, the museum room moved across the road into what is now the Pine Museum.
Today's library is home to many thousands of books as well as books on tape, videos, DVDs and magazines and is once again running out of space.
There are reading programs for children, summer programs and, now, plans are under way for teen events.
With the new computer program, library cardholders can go online and find books at libraries across the country. Computers, including Internet access, are available to library patrons. The library now is making use of the former Kiwanis building for educational and social events and it is available for a small rental fee to community organizations.
Ruth Neigh, past president, longtime member and supporter of Library Friends, compiled this interesting history.
Many important names were left out of this article due to space restrictions.
Stop by the library for more history.