History of the Library

Daniel Buchanan

In 1902, Daniel Buchanan, a local farmer and prominent politician, donated over 550 volumes from his personal library to the City of Ritzville to be "used as a nucleus of a public library ... free, under the usual library restrictions, to all residents of Adams County, Washington."  The Manhattan Club purchased furniture for $400 and the first librarian, Mr. G. Reicher, was hired for $35 per month.  The first reading room and library was located over Mrs. Hallin’s millinery store.  Later, donations were sought for a permanent library structure; $10,500 came from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation giving Ritzville the means to construct a full-fledged library.


On June 4, 1907, the cornerstone of the present library was laid by the Grand Lodge of the Masons.  Local and out-of-town dignitaries, including Governor Albert Mead, attended the event.  The brick building in a restrained Neoclassical style was designed by Preusse & Zittel of Spokane and built by Shontz Shuler.  Shuler is now memorialized in a metal sculpture in front of the library.Cornerstone Ceremony 1907

In 1982, the library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Since then, the building has undergone several interior restorations to return it to its original appearance, including restoring the ceiling to its original height after it had been lowered in 1975.

On December 11, 2000, Ritzville Library District #2 was officially formed following the successful approval of a proposition on the November 2000 ballot.  The formation of the Library District and the subsequent transfer of the Ritzville City Public Library to the District is part of an ongoing attempt to ensure public library services for the areas surrounding Ritzville.

The original cornerstone and time capsule were opened at a special Centennial ceremony on May 26, 2007.  Many well-preserved historic papers, photos, and coins were unveiled.  The original metal archival box was re-installed in the cornerstone on May 24, 2008 with over two dozen items representing our current history refilling the box.  The Ritzville Public Library is preparing for the next 100 years!

Made possible with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Washington State Library, Office of the Secretary of State.