Library History

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

The Winfield Public Library has a long history in our community.  In 1916, the Ladies Improvement Association added $100 to the $400 bequeathed by Mrs. Mintrell to start a fund raising campaign to establish a public library.  Forty individuals and businesses contributed $5 or more each.  A large number of small subscriptions were also received.  Two rooms above the old Winfield State Bank were rented for $75 per year (this included heat and lights).  A board was appointed and Marie Berger became the first librarian.  The hours were Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and evenings.  95 books were purchased for a total of $45.  Adults paid $.05 to rent each book and children received 3 month cards for $.25.

In the early years board members were asked to present a list of 10 books to purchase several times a year. They were even expected to donate a book and dress in costume to represent that book. 

The State Library Assoc. in 1922 informed the library board that the town was too small to support a library and should become a branch of the Mt. Pleasant library.  No one agreed with that assessment and in 1927 the Free City Library of Winfield was created with $400 in annual budgeted city taxes.  The first paid librarian received a salary of $11 a month.  Rural patrons paid $1.00 for membership.  With an annual allowance of $120, the collection had grown to 1374 books 

In 1943 the Junior Woman’s Club began reading hours for children.  1955 was the first time the collection was cataloged. And in that year negotiations for a permanent location for the library began.  The library had moved 4 times before making the present building its home in 1965.  This last move was made by community members of all ages pulling wagons and carrying arm loads of books from the building that now houses the city offices.

The funding sources have changed from donations in the early years to tax support today.  Out present budget comes from city, county, and state taxes along with donations and fees.

Cataloging has changed a great deal in the last 90+ years from title, author and subject cards in a large wooden file to the complete collection listed and described on computer search stations.

 The collection has grown from those first 95 books to over 15,000 items including books, audio books, videos, cds, dvds and magazines.

This resource is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by State Library of Iowa.