Library History

OldLibrary

The history of the Stromsburg Public Library began early in the last century.

In the spring of 1916  the Stromsburg Commercial Club contacted the Carnegie Corporation, seeking to secure a grant for a new library. The Corporation granted $7,500 to the City of Stromsburg for a library building.  The grant was given with the proviso that the City obtain a suitable plot and agree to maintain the library after it was built.

The Carnegie Library was completed and dedicated in the spring of 1918.  The building on the corner of 5th and Commercial Streets would serve the community for over eighty years.

By 1931, Stromsburg was the only town in Polk County to have a library building.  The library collection had grown to 4,000 volumes and twelve periodicals due to generous donations by prominent citizens, together with a small levy from the City.

In the 1960’s, interested citizens began to promote improvements in the library and its role in the developing “Information Age.”  However proud the community was of its library, the Library Board began to see the need for more changes in the 1980’s.  The library was overcrowded due to expanded services and collection growth.  It was also necessary to make the library handicapped accessible.

The Stromsburg Community Improvement Committee also saw the need and, in 1988, asked the citizens to begin a new library-building fund.  The library board began researching several options and visited many libraries around the state, endeavoring to make the right decision on how to solve the problems of overcrowding and handicapped accessibility. In 1992, the site at 320 Central Street was purchased and the building project was formally begun.  Gary Nielsen was hired as architect and LeRoy Gerrard was named building committee chairman.  Alton “Mook” Wilhelms was named finance committee chairman. In late 1999, having received donations from over 600 individuals, plus grants from the Nebraska Library Commission and Peter Kiewit, the building fund exceeded the $677,940 estimated cost.  In a special election on January 11, 2000, Stromsburg citizens voted “yes” to accept the gift of a new library from the donors.

On February 21, 2001, the community formed a four-block line and helped move the last 2000 books from the old to the new library.  The festive atmosphere of citizens aged two to ninety, including Stromsburg students, inspired television coverage and front-page articles in several newspapers.  Under the supervision of Library Director Diana Johnson, most of the 16,500 books had been moved by truck on the previous Monday. The new building was dedicated March 25, 2001.  At that time, the Library Board consisted of Troy Lindsley, Annette Lindburg, LeRoy Gerrard, Elliot Yungdahl, Eleanor Hatfield, and Sandra Lyons.  The grounds were landscaped that summer and, once more, as Chattie Westenius said over seventy years ago, “The library grounds can surely be pointed to as one of the beauty spots of the city.” A plaque by the front entrance of the library states, “Wherever there is truth, wherever there is beauty, they will find a home.”  The City of Stromsburg and many dedicated citizens have responded to that vision by providing that home for nearly ninety years.

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