Napa County Library’s mission is “to enrich people’s lives with books and information.”
History of the Napa County Library
Like the City of Napa itself, the origins of the Napa County Library date from the mid-to-late 19th century, when a group of boys, calling themselves the Excelsior Club, decided that the town of Napa needed a library. They pooled their talents and gave an “entertainment” at the Methodist Church which netted them more than $100. Their mothers then urged their husbands to help raise additional funds. A library organization was formed in 1870 to organize and direct a town “subscription” library. In 1885, the small collection was taken over by the City of Napa and support for the library was provided from tax funds.
The library was housed in several temporary locations until 1901, when George E. Goodman, a local banker, donated the building on First Street that became the Goodman Library, a City of Napa Municipal Library. At that time, the Library served a community of 5,000 people.
Free Library Legislation
In 1916, after the State Legislature passed the enabling legislation to create county free libraries, the unincorporated areas of Napa County gained library services when the Napa County Board of Supervisors established the Napa County Free Library on February 9, 1916, in a building on Pearl Street, just three blocks from the Goodman Library.
The Napa City-County Library was formed in 1963 when the Napa City Library (Goodman Library) merged with the Napa County Free Library. By a vote of the people, the City of Napa transferred its library function and the associated property tax revenues to the County Board of Supervisors. This unified system was able to provide professional library administration, greater coordination, larger collections, and improved services for more people at less cost. The 4,500-sqaure-foot Goodman Library on First Street served as the children’s library, the 5,041-square-foot County Library on Pearl Street was the location of the adult collection, and the functions of the administrative and technical service were housed in the 4,800-square-foot Wallace Building at 1201 Franklin Street.
New Library Building
As the city and county populations grew, the small buildings became inadequate and a new main library was planned. A site was acquired near the Napa River. The stately historical Migliavacca Mansion, which occupied the site, was moved to its present location on Fourth Street. Funding for the new Napa Main Library was obtained from federal public library construction grants, two major local grants-- from Community Projects, Inc. and the Friends of the Napa City-County Library, and from the Napa City-County Library’s own budget.
The new Library building, dedicated in August 1974, was designed to accommodate the population of the mid-1970s with allowance for modest population growth. The building was extensively remodeled and expanded to 37,000 square feet in 1995.
Consolidation of Libraries
Consolidation of library services proved successful. Recognizing the advantages, the City of Calistoga joined its municipal library to the Napa City-County Library system in 1979. The Calistoga Branch Library is a 2,800 square foot building located at 1108 Myrtle Street. It was built in 1924 for a population of 500. In 2016, the building underwent a seven-month renovation project.
Yountville & American Canyon
The Town of Yountville and the City of American Canyon, which were previously unincorporated areas served by first the County Free Library and then the Napa City-County Library, continued to be served by the Napa City-County Library following their incorporation.
The original Yountville Branch Library was a 782-square-foot. room located in the Town Hall building, which is the old Elementary School building at 6548 Yount Street. The library opened at its current location in the new Yountville Community Center at 6516 Washington Street in March 2010.
The City of American Canyon incorporated as a city in 1992. The American Canyon area was originally served by a branch library that closed in 1978. The bookmobile provided library service until 2001 when a branch was established in leased space of 3,128 square feet in the American Canyon Plaza. On August 14, 2012 the American Canyon Library moved to the newly remodeled Crawford Building, a location used previously as the American Canyon City Hall.
In 2012, the Napa City-County Library rebranded itself as the Napa County Library to better reflect the services the library offers at its branches in American Canyon, Calistoga, Napa, and Yountville.
Significant milestones in the history of the Library include installation of the computerized circulation system in 1974. The Napa City-County Library was one of the first public libraries in California to move into the computer age. The destructive flood of 1986 threatened the Library. However, the Library’s elevated site, developed specifically to prevent flooding, spared it from serious damage. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 damaged some external parts of the Library and hastened cracking which has exacerbated the chronic leakage problems.
Funding & Budget
The Napa County Library is a department of the County of Napa. The Library receives a dedicated portion of county tax revenues each year. Additional funding support for the Library is provided by activities of the Napa County Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library. For complete funding and budget information please see the Financial and Budget documents provided by the County of Napa Auditor-Controller department.
As an agency under the supervision of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, the Napa County Library is responsible for operating the libraries in each community in Napa County except for St. Helena. The cities of Napa, American Canyon, Calistoga, and Yountville are served by the Library and contribute funding to the hours of operation. The Napa County Library is a member of Link+, a union catalog of contributed holdings from participating libraries in California and Nevada with over 10 million holdings available to Napa County Library users.
For county residents who are house-bound or who live in remote unincorporated areas, such as the communities around Lake Berryessa, the Library operates a Books-by-Mail program. Via the Internet or by telephone, patrons can request materials and access electronic databases and periodicals.