Our library has a long history in the community. With the support of our patrons, volunteers, and donors, our services continue to evolve to meet our community’s needs.
In 1923 the Woman’s Club held a program entitled “Possibilities for a Library in Conrad.” Though the time was not right, the dream was kept alive and finally became a reality when the Library officially opened its doors on April 13, 1937. It was originally called the Woman’s Club Library.
The library, located in a room adjoining Dr. Gould’s office above the tavern, was furnished from the attics and homes of Woman's Club members. Community residents generously donated books to the collection. Additionally, the library entered into a contract with the Grundy Center Library, which for a $5 annual fee, supplied a rotating collection of books .
A $100 grant from the Tuberculosis Association (books were important for the “mental health” of the community, especially those afflicted with disease) provided the money for books and supplies during that first year. Library memberships were sold for $1 per year; these offered families the use of the library every Saturday afternoon.
The original Woman’s Club Library Committee found it their responsibility to staff and stock the shelves of the library. For at least the first year volunteers served as librarians. Then, through a W.P.A. program, the library hired its first librarian, Phyllis Hendershot.
In 1940 the Woman’s Club petitioned the City Council to take over the operation of the library. Thus, by city ordinance May 6, 1940, the library became the Conrad Public Library, a tax-supported institution.
Conrad Public Library’s years of service have been characterized by change and growth. From its location above the tavern, the library moved, in 1947, to the council chambers of the old Town Hall where it remained until 1954. After being temporarily housed in the American Legion Post rooms during construction of a new Municipal Building, the library found its home in a single room of that new structure.
The next major change came in the 1980 with the library moving into a larger section of the Municipal Building building, that had formerly housed the Fire Department. In this location the library acquired its first computers for public use. They were popular for word processing and gaming. Later, with the addition of the internet, they became an integral part of libraries services. In 1995 the city offices relocated from the Municipal Building to the new City Hall. The entire Municipal Building was now simply the Conrad Public Library. The additional 900 square feet, which had housed the city clerk’s office and council chambers, held the library’s extensive genealogy collection.
By the early 2000s it was time for the library to change again. Board members began investigating options to expand the existing building or move to a new location. By the fall of 2004 a generous donor purchased the site of the former Franzenberg Meat Locker and paid for the fire damaged building’s demolition. The official groundbreaking for the new library building was held in January 2007 with construction to begin in April of that year. A year later in January 2008 the library opened at its current location.
Since 2008 the library has continued to change to meet patron needs while remaining in the same location. Today, in addition to the original service of providing books to the community, the library offers: DVDs, magazines, puzzles, games, puppets, cake pans, cookie cutters, CDs, audio books, ebooks, wi-fi access, computers, internet, meeting space, digital collections, and much more! No doubt the needs of our community will continue to change in the coming years, and the Conrad Public Library will evolve to meet them.