Formation of the Arnolds Park Library began in 1902 with a membership of 14 people and dues of twenty-five cents a year. In 1903 there were 25 card holders.
The first library was in the schoolhouse and was transferred to the A.A. Henderson home in 1904 due to a disagreement about the library association meeting at the schoolhouse.
They held suppers to raise money and each benefit netted about $10-$20 for the library. In 1903, a gentleman wrote to Mrs. Henderson: “While the ladies have worked faithfully to keep up the library, I have not heard of any men doing anything since we partook of the supper and made speeches at the schoolhouse—and later voted against the tax for its partial support.”
When the Henderson family moved west the books were placed in the old WCTU hall and were in the charge of that association for some time. At first non-residents were required to deposit the value of the book in advance with the librarian—the money was refunded when the book was returned. In 1903, this was changed to a deposit of $2.50 for the season, with ten cents per book checked out deducted at the end of the season. Books purchased cost an average of thirty-five cents each.
The book, Spirit Lake Massacre, was donated by Mrs. Sharp with the provision that it be put aside during the summer months so as not to spoil her sales of the book.
1914: Shortly after the new school was completed, the books were returned to the schoolhouse where they were added to the school library.
1921: Owing to the need for a public library and also prompted by the offer of a gift of 315 volumes from D.W. Dickinson, M.D., a committee was appointed to petition the city council. The public voted to establish a library in a special election. The library was again open to the public, a room having been set aside for that purpose at the schoolhouse.
Fall of 1926: The library was temporarily located on Hwy.71 at the site of the Koffee Kup Kafe. It had been a Gateswood Cottage and was donated for a library site by Mrs. Martha Gates upon her death. Mrs. Inez Elston, a pioneer resident of Arnolds Park, was librarian and Miss. Edna Netzke, known for her quilts, was assistant librarian.
1933: City Hall was completed and the library moved into the east half of the first floor. The Gateswood site was sold to the Gates heirs and that fund of $5,000 was turned over to the City for use of room in the City Hall. There was space for a children’s room and a reading area.
March 1949 to 1965: Mrs. Max Buck (Mary) was librarian. The library began in two empty rooms of City Hall with 2,300 books, no magazines, and few reference materials. Annual circulation was 3,600 books. In 1955 there were 3,000 books. By 1965 there were 8,775 books and an annual circulation of 12,326.
1955 to 1958: Mrs. Harold Shumaker was librarian. She had been assistant librarian for ten years previously.
1966 to 1967: Mrs. Howard Walsh (Betty) was librarian. Mrs. Martha Hinshaw was assistant librarian.
1967 to 1977: Mrs. Mildred Olson was librarian. Mrs. Hinshaw continued as assistant.
October, 1976: The library and a community room were put into the new addition to the school building. The library owned 11,500 books and 45 magazine subscriptions.
Late 1970's: Mrs. Vivian Frost worked at the library as an assistant. She also served as head librarian for several months while the director was on medical leave.
June, 1977 to July, 1985: Mrs. Hinshaw was librarian.
July, 1985 to June, 1988: Mrs. Sylvia Poe was librarian. Her husband was pastor of the Methodist Church and she left when he was transferred to another town.
June, 1988: Susan Sup is librarian. Wilma Lehnhoff has been assistant librarian since 1983. Lorraine Little is library aide.
Early 1996: A non-profit organization called the Arnolds Park Library Foundation was formed to help the library.
Spring 1996: The library moved to the City Hall building on Hwy. 71. A time capsule was placed in the library which will be opened in the year 2045.
December, 2003: Wilma Lehnoff passed away. She had worked at the library for 20 years and was very popular with the staff and public. She was an avid reader of modern fiction; many people came to her for advice on what to read next.
March, 2004: Grace Cummins began working as a library aide. Linda Nase, secretary at the police department, fills in occasionally at the library.
November, 2005: The library started a project to automate the circulation of materials. Joyce Burgeson spent 350 volunteer hours to barcode all books (11,500+) over the winter. Dee Brooks spent 200 volunteer hours helping her.
May 1, 2006: The library “went live” with automation. We began checking out materials with the computer. Patsy Bauer was the first customer to use a bar-coded patron card.