1010 Onaway Road
Potlatch, ID 83855
P.O. Box 335
Potlatch, ID 83855
Monday 2-7 p.m.
Tuesday 3-7 p.m.
Wednesday 2-7 p.m.
Thursday 3-7 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Closed on Saturday
Closed on Sunday
The Potlatch Library began in 1908 as a public reading room in the basement of the Union Church, primarily as a place where the company town's many bachelors could spend their leisure time. In 1914, it became the Potlatch Free Public Library. Championed by local townswomen and a Potlatch Company director Frederic S. Bell, the library thrived from monthly stipends contributed by Potlatch Company officials. In 1930, the company also provided a building, and the library moved into the frame structure that had served as the community's first hospital.
With the exception of a few difficult years during the Depression, the Potlatch Lumber Company gave a monthly donation, allowed rent-free use of the building and paid the librarian's salary. It donated the building to the community when it sold the town in the 1950s.
Bell served as a library benefactor until his death, regularly contributing money and books. When Fredric Bell died, his son Laird took a similar interest, personally matching every dollar raised locally for the library.
In 1971, a new building was built at 635 Pine Street from donations by local patrons and businesses. The building was constructed by Bill Hanks and volunteers.
By 1993, the small community library was feeling the effects of its high circulation volume. Potlatch Friends of the Library turned to the Scenic 6 Community Development Council for support in raising funds for a new building.
By August of 1998, enough funds had been secured to win a matching federal grant and construction of a new facility was completed in January 2000. The building houses not only a library but also a community meeting room and entrance gallery. The Potlatch Community Library continues to have the highest circulation figures for the entire system excluding Moscow.
Early history excerpts from "Company Town"
by Keith C. Petersen.