In 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, an employment opportunity became available along the Colorado River. Work began on a phenomenal endeavor the building of Boulder Dam. The engineering wonder was later renamed, Hoover Dam and it attracted workers from around the country. What was not anticipated, however, was that the Dam workers brought their families with them to the harsh conditions of the Nevada desert.

Dormitories were provided for the workers, but the families lived in tents and tarpaper huts. Strong bonds were formed among this tough, suffering community and eventually the need for a town became evident. Boulder City was born as a Federal Reservation with very strict rules. The safety of lives depended upon sober workers, so alcohol was not permitted on property. In fact all vices were kept outside of the boundaries of Boulder City and the construction site. If a child caused any trouble, the working father would lose his job since there was an abundance of Americans waiting for a chance to work. Good behavior on the part of all citizens was requisite.

Educating the children was a need which became apparent early on and a school was formed by the mothers in town. Support for the children and school system was further enhanced in 1933 when the Library of Congress loaned 3,000 books to the Bureau of Reclamation for a library. This was the initial genesis for the Boulder City Library.

The library did not have an easy early history, but what it lacked in funds and supplies, it made up for in a dedicated, determined citizenry. Initially the library was housed in a small basement area in the Municipal Building. The library was operated by the school system and staffed by teachers from across the street. As the community became more aware of the library, it became necessary to hire a librarian. The Six Companies that together were responsible for the building of The Dam hired Ruby Wyman as the first official librarian for the community.

The blow to the library occurred in 1936 upon the completion of The Dam when the construction companies pulled out and the remaining Bureau of Reclamation refused to continue to take responsibility for funding the library. Between the summer of 1936 and the fall of 1938 the library was only occasionally open when high school teenagers volunteered to staff a few evening hours. The library, consisting of approximately 4,000 volumes was in all essence closed during these years.

Action was taken in 1938 by 30 Boulder City housewives to address the issue of the closed library. They held a meeting and City Manager Sims Ely commissioned every one of the ladies to be members of the Library Board. The Board members then secured a larger space in the basement of the Municipal building and staffed the library themselves so that the library was open five days a week.

The fledgling library operated fund drives which provided money for supplies and materials but did not allow for book purchases or wages. Eventually in 1942, the Bureau of Reclamation agreed to help pay for a librarian. Funding problems continued to be an issue and so in 1943 the citizens circulated a petition and requested that they be permitted to tax themselves 10 cents per every $100 of property value. On March 16, 1943 the Boulder City Library District was officially formed as a free public library.

The library will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of its official formation as a library district. The history along the way has been an interesting one. The staff would like to share some of the interesting experiences that have occurred along the way. We hope you find it as intriguing (and sometimes entertaining) as we do...enjoy!