By Morgane Plager Roth
Local History Library Assistant 

Library Corner: East Adams Library District helps preserve the history of Adams County


Last updated 9/5/2019 at 11:13am

There are moments when I look down at the keyring in my hands and am mystified by the large silver key that allows me access to the most magical building in town. Did you know that Ritzville was the smallest town in America to advocate for and receive a Carnegie Library grant? Did you know that in one day, thanks to a very successful community dance, the people of Ritzville raised enough money to meet the grant requirements? That the cornerstone laying brought the governor to town on June 4, 1907?

Of the 42 Carnegies built in Washington State, only 14 continue to serve in their original buildings. It’s something of a miracle that our tiny 112-year old library continues to serve our East Adams communities, and has a larger reach than ever before thanks to weekly branches in Lind, Washtucna and a dropbox in Benge.

The last several Library Corner articles have talked about how the library focuses on the needs of our community through education, empowerment, and, yes, entertainment. Today, I’m going to chat about research. Don’t go to sleep just yet!

A library’s job at its root is to answer the public’s questions. I happen to have the honor of working in the Research Room and am here to answer any of your local history and genealogy questions for five hours a week (or email me anytime at [email protected]).

Can I find that obit from 1934? Yes. What type of farm implement is in that photo? A harrow. Where did my family homestead? Just south of Delight. What was the original name of Main Street? 1st Avenue. Do you have a photo of my house? Probably not… Sometimes the questions allow me to peer through a jeweler’s loupe, pull information from old maps, and read dusty tomes. But mostly I’m hunched over a keyboard and use a variety of websites to find answers (that useful list is conveniently published on our website at

This year, thanks to grants from Washington State Library’s “Rural Heritage” collection and the Washington Historical Society, we are working to digitize our communities’ historical photos, using oral history interviews to put voices to our stories, and create a presentation that educates the public on Adams County’s role in the suffrage movement. You can visit our online collections here: We are constantly looking to improve our historical collections and if you feel you have a story, a photo collection or a history for our Adams County Community Archive, contact us!

It is indeed an honor to sit in a small room in the basement of a very beautiful old building and answer your questions because each answer sheds knowledge and light on a past that we can use to move forward toward our future. We build a stronger community by understanding our past. So in that regard, the library really is a magical place.


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