Library History

Read how this library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.


History of the Janesville Library


In 1962, Clark Corwin, then a member of the Janesville City Council, expressed a desire for Janesville to have a public library. Hattie Zo Shoesmith and Margaret Theis joined with Clark to make plans for one, thus a library was born. Arlene Warm volunteered her services as a librarian for two afternoons a week. As there were no city or county funds for the first several years, the staff was volunteers. The Regional Library, Bremer County, as well as other libraries and citizens donated books.


Hattie and her family moved away from Janesville so Mildred Mitchell took her place. In 1964 the first library board was appointed: Clark Corwin, Mildred Mitchell, Dick Shepard, C.W. Morford and Margaret Theis. Mildred served as President with Margaret as Secretary.


The city allowed the library to be located in the City Hall. It all began with a few old donated books, a broken down desk, and a volunteer librarian. Sometime in the years after 1965 (probably 2 or 3) the library was given a grant of $200 a year by the city.


In 1965 Beth Squires was appointed librarian with Nell Corwin as assistant. Beth served in this capacity until 1972 when Florence Besh took her place. At that time the library was still a part of the City Hall building.


In 1973 the City Council took over the fire station and said the library could have the room, if they would remodel it. Plans were made to undertake this job at once. In October of 1973, the Kinney Lindstrom Foundation granted the library $10,000, but that amount had to be matched. Having bake sales, book sales, Bingo, and a large donation from the Janesville Jaycees did this. After much hard work the many volunteers completed the building.


Vi Kofron and Donna Smith also served as Library Directors in the years before 1990 when Beth Ann Scott was hired. Today the library also employs: Sherry Schurman, Tina Ristau, Kathy Behnke and Ginny Adams.  The library board consists of Katy Kiene, Lorraine Hallberg, Linda Brinkman, Peggy Holdiman, Rachael Coffman, Rheannon Carlson, and Shirley Hiller.


The present library houses approximately 10,000 books, 55 magazines & newspapers, 1,200 videos, 85 audio tapes, 6 computers, and copier and fax machines. The library has also added a new service that offers audio book downloads and ebooks. There is an average of 1,000 people in the library per month. Programming at the library includes computer classes that are held as needed, story hour is weekly for 3 – 5 year olds and a summer reading program for preschool thru 6th grade students. As in the beginning years of the library the elementary students visit every two weeks during the school year.