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History of the Yuba County Library

Local History Archives

The Yuba County Library is one of the oldest continuously operating public libraries west of the Mississippi.  It was originally organized by the Young Men's Literary and Scientific Association, in 1855, as the Marysville Library.  The main objective of the Association was to gather materials together and maintain a reading room where its members could come together socially and improve their mental state.  The first books purchased by the Association were bought in New York and shipped around the Horn.  Donations of books, magazines, pamphlets and maps were made by members and associates to stock the reading room before the shipment arrived.

To make the library available to all citizens of Marysville, the Association deeded the collection to the city of Marysville on December 15, 1858.  A room on the second floor of the City Hall was assigned for the use as a library.

 In 1861 the Library was moved to the second floor of the new Masonic Hall.  Ten years later it was moved again, back to City Hall.  This was done to take advantage of the free heating being supplied to the city at that location.

Hearing that the Marysville City Library was having difficulty maintaining a permanent location, mining magnate John Q. Packard resolved to provide a building.  Mr. Packard was a pioneer merchant in Marysville, and a charter member of the Marysville City Library.  In October 1900, Packard deeded to the City property on the corner of Fourth and C Streets.  In 1905 he employed William Curtlett as architect and R. Dewar as contractor for the construction of a Library building.

The Library building was completed on March 14, 1906, and opened to the public on October 12, 1906.  This new, larger library had several floors.  The ground floor was set up to include a smoking room, to be open every day.  The first floor was the main reading room containing the book collection, the Librarian's office, a work area, and a children's area.  A mezzanine overlooked the first floor, and housed the Poppy Room.  In 1910, the Poppy Room was used to house pioneer relics, photographs, diaries and manuscripts dealing with the history of Yuba County.  On the top floor was a hallway and auditorium. 

In 1955, in preparation for the opening of the new Mary Aaron Museum, the pioneer relics, diaries and most of the paintings were removed from the Poppy Room and given to the Museum.

In 1972, citizens of Yuba County petitioned the Board of Supervisors for county-wide library service.  With the support of both the City of Marysville and the Board of Supervisors, the City Library became the Yuba County Library on July 1, 1972. 

Plans were also put in motion to either remodel the existing Library building or to construct a new building at that time.  The main reasons behind the project were the fact that the building was behind in the building codes and had no access for those with physical disabilities.  After deliberation, it was decided to build a new Library.  The redevelopment area at Second and C Streets was chosen.  The construction was funded by the Library Services Act, Yuba County, the City of Marysville, and the United States Office of Education.  The new Library was opened to the public in June 1977. 

The collection held in the Poppy Room was given its own room in the new building.  The room was officially dedicated as the Kathryn Ann Lamon Memorial History Room, but California Room became its' unofficial, popular name shortly after opening. 

Because "California Room" does not adequately describe the scope of the collection, staff have begun referring to the collection as the "Local History Archives", housed in the Lamon Room.

PHOTOS:

2008 Photograph of Yuba County Library, from parking lot

1851 drawing of Marysville

1855 Photograph of Marysville City Hall

1850 Photograph of Marysville Masonic Hall

1905 Photograph of the Packard Library

1930 Photograph of the Marysville City Library, Packard building

2008 Photograph of Yuba County Library, from C Street

2008 Photograph of the Local History Archives, across the garden 

(All photographs property of Local History Archives, Yuba County Library)