Black Diamond Library moves to old "Teacher's Cottage," making it the only library in King County with its own bathtub, on February 22, 1957.

  • By Jim Kershner
  • Posted 6/08/2016
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 11240

On February 22, 1957, the Black Diamond Library moves to the old "Teacher's Cottage," making it the only library in King County with its own bathtub. The reason for this distinction is that, for decades, the cottage had been used to house teachers at Black Diamond's school. The school district quit using the building in 1956 and donated the little cottage to the library. The Black Diamond Library had been located in the old waiting room of the former Pacific Coast Coal Depot. The cottage is more convenient and has space for more books, about 3,000 in total. On opening night, librarian Jewell McCloud reports 216 books checked out, a record number for the library. The library will remain in the converted cottage until 1968, when it moves into the new Black Diamond municipal building. In 2008, the King County Library System will build a new 5,000-square-foot Black Diamond Library.

Community Cooperation

The Black Diamond Library first opened in 1917 in a room at the Pacific Coast Hotel. It soon moved to the Pacific Coast Coal Depot, after the railroad quit using the station. It remained there, with a short hiatus when it closed briefly during World War II, until the Black Diamond School District offered the use of the small house known as the Teacher's Cottage. The local library board and the King County Rural Library District, which had operated the Black Diamond Library since it reopened after the wartime closure, snapped up the offer because the cottage's "location is good, and it is larger and cleaner and warmer than the former library" ("New Location"). And, in an interview on her retirement in 1975, McCloud noted one other distinction: "We were the only library in the county with a bathtub" (Mahoney).

The move was "the result of a wide-spread community cooperation" ("New Location"). Members of the local Parent Teacher Association swarmed over the little cottage and "installed sheet rock for the walls, wood for the shelving, and linoleum, paint and varnish" ("History of the Libraries"). A. R. Botts "levelled the gravel in front of the library" and Ann Steiert donated curtains ("New Location"). The librarian's husband built shelving, a magazine rack, stools, and a circulation desk. A story in the Enumclaw newspaper said the work was accomplished "in the true spirit of a democratic venture" ("New Location").

The library move was part of an even larger cooperative endeavor. The local library board was responsible for the library's building and maintenance, but the King County Rural Library District (which became known as the King County Library System, KCLS) "provides the books, professional library supervision and employs the local librarian" ("New Location").

"Through such a plan, residents of Black Diamond have available to them over a quarter of a million of books, plus, through contract with the Seattle Public Library, their supply of over two million books. The King County Library system operates on a revolving basis, so that Black Diamond's book collection changes constantly, new books being brought out from headquarters in Seattle each week" ("New Location").

Busy Night

On the library's opening night in the cottage, librarian McCloud reported that it was the busiest night she could remember. The 216 books checked out that night were more than double a normal night's circulation. Photos in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald showed McCloud helping a 4-year-old choose a picture book. The library's operating hours were Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The cottage would survive a near-disaster in 1959, when the neighboring Black Diamond Presbyterian Church burned to the ground. The library finally outgrew the increasingly ramshackle cottage in 1968, when it moved to Black Diamond's new municipal building. It later moved to a leased space.

Black Diamond incorporated in 1959. In 1990 its citizens voted for full annexation into the King County Library System. In 2008 KCLS built a new 5,000-square-foot Black Diamond Library, which gave the town a modern, spacious building -- although one that, alas, lacked its own bathtub.


Sources:

"Black Diamond Public Library in New Location," Enumclaw-Courier Herald, March 14, 1957, p. 16; "Black Diamond Library 2006 Community Study," King County Library System (KCLS) website accessed May 23, 2016 (https://w3.kcls.org/community_studies/Black%20Diamond%20Community%20Study.pdf); "About Black Diamond Library," KCLS website accessed May 22, 2016 (http://kcls.org/about-black-diamond-library/); HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "King County Library System" (by Paula Becker), http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed May 22, 2016); Sally Gene Mahoney, "A Different Retirement Story," The Seattle Times, April 11, 1975, p. D-1; "History of the Libraries, Black Diamond," in Service Needs Assessment 1996 (King County Library System, 1996), 5-6, Black Diamond Library Vertical File, in the collection of the Black Diamond Library, Black Diamond, Washington; Ann Steiert, "Our Library," undated clipping (ca. 1995) from the Black Diamond Historical Society Newsletter, Black Diamond Library Vertical File.


Related Topics:   Buildings | Education | King County Library System

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