Tom Haraldsen
From left, Murray Mayor Dan Snarr joins Rep. Tim Cosgrove, Murray Library Director Dan Barr and Congressman Jim Matheson at the gala celebrating the Murray Library centennial.

The Valley Journals

MURRAY--It started with a group of women and 500 books back in May 1912, and now the Murray Public Library has grown to accommodate thousands of readers in Murray and surrounding cities. To celebrate 100 years of library service in the community, organizers staged a gala to recognize the library’s contribution to the city’s development.

Several dignitaries attended the centennial event on Feb. 25, including Congressman Jim Matheson, Rep. Tim Cosgrove, Murray Mayor Dan Snarr and Library Board President Bruce Cutler. The gala featured live music, an overview of the library’s history, a musical number and remarks from several people who have been influenced by literature.

“The number one priority of any community should always be education because, without that, the consequence is ignorance,” Snarr said. “I’m just so proud that our forefathers invested in our city so we could have a bright future with this library.”

The first Murray library was located on Vine Street and was built with a $10,000 donation from the Carnegie Foundation. The Murray school board provided the property for the building, and the library later expanded to include a second location. Nearly a decade ago, the two libraries consolidated into the location at 166 East 5300 South, and the library has undergone further renovation during the last few years.

The Friends of the Murray Library unveiled a legacy project for the 100-year celebration. A stained-glass window, designed by artist Donna Pence, will be placed at the library in the fall of 2012. An anonymous donor contributed $10,000 for the display, but the donation must be matched by the community to help cover a portion of the $40,000 cost of the window.Anyone wishing to contribute to the project can drop off donations at the library or participate in on-going book sales, membership drives or events at the facility, including another Star Wars activity to get the whole family involved.

“We have made a commitment,and we’re hopeful that members of the community will open their hearts and help us achieve this goal,” Friends of the Murray Library member Pat Griffiths said. “More events will be planned through the rest of the year to [reach this goal.]”

Friends of the Murray Library also donated a permanent statue to the library to represent the love of books, reading and education. Barr accepted the statue on behalf of the facility, and expressed his gratitude to the community, residents and city leaders who support the library system.

“When I think of a library, I don’t think of the building,” Barr said. “I don’t think of the books. I think of the people. We have a wonderful staff here at this library.”

Tom Haraldsen is the assistant managing editor of The Valley Journals newspaper group, and is currently president of the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.