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The Chippewa Falls Public Library opened its doors to the community on February 5, 1894. In 1903, the library moved from the old McBean Building to a new Carnegie-funded location. The current building at 105 West Central Street has been the library's home since August 9, 1969.
LOOKING AT THE PAST
Through the efforts of many individuals and a number of clubs and societies, the library gradually increased its book stock. Proceeds from concerts, balls, quilt raffles, and minstrel shows all went to purchase more books; and the City Council even allotted seven percent of the liquor license fees toward the upkeep of the library and the librarian's lowly salary. A number of those individuals who should be remembered for their generous gifts were:
The first public library in Chippewa Falls was located in the old McBean Building at 19 East Central Street. 1894 - 1903
With an ever-increasing book collection, it wasn't long before library patrons were allowed to take out two books at a time.
During 1902, in great part through the efforts of Leslie Willson, the Andrew Carnegie Foundation agreed to give $20,000 for the erection of a new library building, "If the City of Chippewa Falls pledges itself to support a Free Public Library at a cost of not less than two thousand dollars a year, and furnishes a suitable site." After considering several possibilities, a site was selected, plans were approved, and construction was started. The move to the new structure was made toward the end of the following year and the library was officially opened on December 5, 1903.
Three events which occurred over the years are noteworthy. In 1914, the library was modernized with electric lighting. On January 15, 1915, a fire in the office of the library caused about $3,000 damage and spoiled a plan to exhibit a large collection of new books. Many of the early records of the library were also destroyed in this fire. In June of 1949, a children's room was opened as the result of money that had been given as a memorial to Minnie Enger, who had worked in the library for 30 years until her death in 1947. This sum was enlarged with money from other sources and the children's department got off to a good start.
The Carnegie Public Library stood across the street from the current library's location from 1903 to 1969.It had been recognized for a number of years that the Carnegie building had outlived its usefulness as a functionally satisfactory library facility. It was "not only inadequate for the safe maintenance of current stocks and efficient operation" but was also inadequate for the "development of services to satisfactorily serve Chippewa Falls and the surrounding area." (Quoted from the Building Program Statement which was prepared by William Duren.) Considering the steadily increasing demands being made on the library for the expansion of existing services and the creation of new programs; considering the consistent growth in circulation and in the number of patrons; and considering the small but steady growth of the population being served by the library, the need for improved library facilities was great. Recognizing this great need, the cooperative efforts of the board of Trustees, the City Officials, the Library staff and many interested citizens resulted in the decision to build a new library for the City of Chippewa Falls.
LOOKING TO THE PRESENT
The library serves in many ways to help meet the cultural, informational and recreational needs of our citizens. Although the current library was considered spacious when it opened in 1969, today the building is almost overflowing, due to the increased size and variety of our current collections. Compare the two pictures below to note how much our use of space has changed over the last 30 years.