The Friends of the Clintonville Public Library celebrated their 25th anniversary Saturday, Sept. 25.
The event highlighted the library’s growth throughout the years and commended those who have been instrumental in securing the library’s bright future.
Clintonville Public Library Director Kathy Mitchell served as master of ceremonies, welcoming guests and thanking members of the Library Board and members of the Friends of the Library Board for their dedication and forward-thinking that made the current library a reality.
Former Library Director Harriet McCauly next spoke, giving a brief history of the library when it was housed at the Congregational Church. She stated that the library began in 1884 and saw tremendous growth even in its early years.
Beth Mack, who was on the fundraising committee for the current building and also served on the Friends Board, gave an overview of the time period when the city took over the library in 1905. She also presented a ledger that dates back many decades and contains historical information that is a valued reminder of the library’s past.
Catherine Bellieveau, Library Board president, spoke about the construction of the Finney Library in 1917, stating that the library had finally found a suitable home in the building that is now home to O’Connor Sales and Realty.
Doris Abrahamson spoke next, detailing the formation of the Friends of the Library in 1985. Abrahamson served as the first president of the group and continues to be a strong supporter of the library. Abrahamson and the original members who came together to form the Friends of the Library kicked off fundraising efforts that led to the construction of the current library building on Hemlock St.
“Many people found the crowded conditions in the Finney Public Library frustrating. A community meeting was called for Sept. 25, 1985. Two Outagamie Waupaca Library System (OWLS) staff members explained the formation and function of a Friends group,” noted Abrahamson in an article on the history of the Friends of the Library.
“The Friends of the Clintonville Public Library was formed as a non-profit organization for the public library and pledged to support library objectives. The first officers were President Doris Abrahamson, Vice President Jeanne Klemp, Secretary Gale Hoffmann, Treasurer Chuck Gillette, and Directors Pete Oberhauser, Carole Sabel and Gail Stillings,” continued the article.
“A public forum was requested for the October 1989 annual Friends meeting. By this time, $13,000 had been added to the library building fund by the Friends organization. The Library Board provided a financial plan showing how a $921,000 library could be funded without adding to the tax base,” wrote Abrahamson. “Local funding to be raised was $125,000 and expected to be on hand by July 1990. By the end of this fundraising effort, the Friends had collected over $157,000. These monies were used to provide automation for the new library. Key fundraisers were Bob Seaman, Art Joerres, Margaret McCauley, George Zachow, and Beth Mack. Donations came from most of the 50 states and as far away as Ghana and Saudi Arabia.”
Tim Sweet spoke next, discussing the construction of the present library facility in 1991. He also talked about the “book-et brigade” of 1,000 school children that helped move thousands of books from the old library to the new facility in just an hour’s time.
Mayor Judith I. Magee helped conclude the ceremony with an official proclamation recognizing the Friends of the Library for their accomplishments in helping make the library what it is today.
Numerous displays were set up in the library for visitors to view, and demonstrations on the online databases, InfoSoup online catalog, Clintonville Memory Project, and the new microform system and scanner were also conducted. Refreshments were also served, and attendees were encouraged to visit the former Finney Library Building (now O’Connor Sales and Realty), the former Finney residence (now Honey Creek), the History House, and the Clintonville Area Historical Society building.