Cheney Library turns 25
Silver anniversary is a tribute to hard work of many community volunteers
The Cheney City Library has come a long ways in a relatively short time.
From most humble beginnings in a storefront, the library celebrates a milestone Tuesday, Nov. 12, the present location's 25th birthday. The library has an open house from 6-8 p.m. that night with a variety of activities scheduled.
However, had it not been for a group of volunteers – unofficially known as the "kitchen cabinet," but officially called the Friends of the Cheney Library - the idea for the facility might never have been cooked up.
"A group of people worked from the beginning with an idea," Joan Daugherty, one of the original volunteers said. "You get that idea in the minds of other people then pretty soon after a while you have a real following."
The argument was made as to why when the city had a top-notch library available blocks away from downtown at Eastern Washington University was there a need for another, Daugherty said.
"It wasn't Kennedy Library at the time, it was just the college library," Daugherty said. "It's true, if you wanted to do real scholarly work you got the right to go up there and do that even if you weren't a student."
However, there were other people who needed a library. "Especially children, and teenagers and all of us," Daughterty explained.
Little by little the group raised money to kick-start the campaign. One of those donations, $1,000, came from the local teacher's union. "That was a name we could say recognized us," Daugherty said. Others, like the Beta Group, would stage an annual style show with all proceeds going to the library campaign.
A big boost came from an offer of local residents who said they'd match local fundraising.
"Bill and Betty Rennebohm got the ball rolling," volunteer Joan Tracy said of the couple's pledge of funding. Selling bricks personalized with donors' names matched – and surpassed – the Rennebohm's pledge.
In the end it was proof to the community that the public is there to support good things, Daugherty said. The subsequent bond issue further validated the effort, passing by 80 percent.
Groundbreaking in February 1988 attracted hundreds of residents and the project raced along without any notable hitches or glitches. It opened with a celebratory note Nov. 12, 1988 with dozens of people attending the grand opening. Earlier, a human chain helped move books from the old storefront to the new location.
The present facility underwent an expansion in 1997. "The building was constructed with idea it could be expanded, and it had been to accommodate a children's section," Daugherty said.
"It is a commendable building, and even more rewarding to me is how may people use it," Daugherty said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.