Skip Navigation LinksHome/Deschutes by the Decade

Deschutes by the Decades

100 years of library services and resources for the people of Deschutes County

100 Year Anniversary Banner

100 years of library services and resources
for the people of Deschutes County

In 1916, voters established Deschutes County in a break from Crook County and Prineville to better control their own destinies. Among the accomplishments of the young county was the foundation of the Deschutes County Library system in January 1920, with 3,488 books in circulation and 1,252 cardholders by the end of that first year. The Central Oregon community grew by leaps and bounds in the 100 years since, and so have we. Now, with hundreds of thousands of items in circulation and nearly 90,000 library card holders, we reach people where they are, whether it’s in one of our six locations, online, or through community outreach.

Join us in 2020 as we look back on a century of community. For the first 10 months of the year we will highlight a different decade of our history during each month. From the Roaring ‘20s to the new decades of the 21st century, we have a lot to celebrate! Look for special displays in your libraries that highlight each decade, watch for special “Deschutes by the Decade” programs honoring our history, and be sure to check out our new, limited-edition anniversary library cards. It all culminates with a grand masquerade ball in October, a nod to library’s hugely popular masquerade ball of 1920.

While we reflect on the past century of growth, we have our eyes on a bright future ahead as we create dynamic libraries to serve our population for the next 100 years.

Deschutes by the Decade:

Card image cap


At the start of the 20th century the western edge of Crook County experienced fits and starts of many a township—Bend and Redmond took root, while Opal City, Deschutes, and others became footnotes.

Go to the 1920s
Card image cap


Deschutes County entered the 1930s with 14,749 residents. Not surprisingly, The Great Depression slowed growth in the county, and even halted Deschutes Library’s plan for the first permanent Bend Library building.

Go to the 1930s
Card image cap


Bend entered 1940 with a brand-new library on Wall Street—a building that now serves as Deschutes Public Library’s administrative offices. New libraries were also in place in Redmond and Sisters.

Go to the 1940s
Card image cap


Deschutes County entered the 1950s with 21,692 people, a nearly 20% increase over the preceding decade. Not only was the county population on the rise, so was the library’s circulation of books.

Go to the 1950s
1960s NASA training lava fields


Deschutes County reached 23,100 residents in 1960, with 11,936 in Bend and 3,340 in Redmond, and the growing pains were being felt. The December 12, 1960, editorial of The Bend Bulletin noted that “Bend needs paved streets just as it needs to get the chickens, hogs, goats, and cows out of the city and into the country.

Go to the 1960s
1970s Story Time


Deschutes County residents numbered 30,442 in 1970, with 13,710 people in Bend and 3,721 in Redmond. The 1970s brought change to Deschutes County, as lumber mills began their slow contraction and destination resorts like Sunriver, Inn at the Seventh Mountain, and Black Butte Ranch began reshaping the economy of the area

Go to the 1970s
1980s Story Time


Deschutes County residents numbered 62,142 in 1980, a number more than double the county’s population just a decade before. The 1980s were pivotal for many reasons, from a new library in the county to regional events that garnered national attention.

Go to the 1980s
1990s Library


Deschutes County residents numbered 76,034 at the end of 1990, a year in which the curve of the growth chart grew steeper. It was in this decade that the county population topped 100,000, reflecting a steady growth pattern that would be a hallmark of the decades to come.

Go to the 1990s

Deschutes Public Library is grateful for the historical information, photos, and assistance provided by the Deschutes Historical Museum.

Page Last Modified Wednesday, March 8, 2023