During the fall of 1957 the members of the Dunkerton Woman's Club began their labors to establish a public library for the use of the people of their community.
The walls of the fire station were painted, curtains hung at the front window, and two moveable book shelves built by a willing husband were brought in. A discarded library table and kitchen chair completed the corner of the fire station to be used as the library.
Then, the sorting of donated books began. Books were dropped at the budding library by single copies, boxes, and bundles. They came from attics and store rooms; some pages were stuck together with gum or candy, dog-eared or slick and new because no one had ever read or ever would read that book about the ice age or some equally fascinating topic. Many fly leaves bore a greeting such as "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Birthday" to a child who had since become a parent or grandparent.
The women were determined that there would be no filthy words or compromising situations in any of the books in the new library. They didn't have an inkling what would be rolling off the presses in the 1960's and beyond, or they would not have worked nearly so hard that weed out what they considered offensive fiction.
Finally, the copies that survived the sifting were carefully processed and placed on shelves, ready for the eager public.
Each Woman's Club member was given a schedule of the hours she was to work as volunteer librarian. At the appointed time her first task was to pull out the two sliding bookshelves to form a partition across the center room, and before she left the building, she must be sure to push them back against the wall so the firemen could rush through to pick up their coats, boots and helmets in case of a fire.
The women were proud of their accomplishment and conscientiously appeared to open the library for each designated hour. People checked out books, but possibly the firemen were not overjoyed with the feminine invasion of their quarters. Anyway, in the early 1960s the town officers provided the building at 113 Main Street for the public library. Again, the club women pitched in and cleaned and painted the building before the library moved into these more spacious quarters. Irwin Rigdon painted a sign to hang outside over the door. Folding chairs and three folding tables were purchased so that patrons could sit and read or study. Other furniture was bought with memorial money and the library was opened in the new location.
Soon Martha Meyerhoff was hired to work a few hours a week with supplementary hours being furnished by the club.
Sometime during this period interest waned. There was no money to buy new books and it seemed the days of the public library were over. Then the Northeastern Iowa Library Association was organized by the Federal Government with our area headquarters in Cedar Falls. New life was injected as every there months books were rotated from library to library and there was an abundance of both non-fiction and fiction available on the shelves.
Then came the disastrous flood that struck Dunkerton in 1968. Boxes of books, ready for the periodic exchange, were stacked on the tables which were overturned. The books were dumped into the water along with our books that were washed off the two lower shelves all around the room. The result was an evil-smelling mess. Once more the club women pitched in, scooped out, scrubbed, sorted and dried.The elegant new desk had to be sent away to be repaired and refinished. With a generous federal grant, a new set of encyclopedias, as well as many other books, were bought to replace the destroyed ones. The club women bought curtains for the windows, had a carpet laid, an air-conditioner installed, and once more the library was open for business.
In the middle 1980s, a building committee was formed to raise funds and build a new library. Money didn't come in very fast, but on October 1st, 1990, Allen Hospital donated it's building at 209 West Main Street to the city for use as a public library. This building was outgrown quickly and then severely damaged in a flood on May 17, 1999. After the flood, another building committee was formed. Land was purchased out of the flood zone on Tower Street. Ament Architects designed the building and Huff Contracting was in charge of the construction. The new library at 203 Tower Street opened to the public on Dec. 8, 2010.
Library Directors through the years:
Mary Lou McGrew
Michelle Wheeler, current