Read how this library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.
Throughout the years there had been a number of literary societies organized in the different school houses in Blaine township. The first real and enduring society that came into being was organized by I.M. Boyer who put on a show at the school house, charging 10-25 cents and the money went to establish Arthur's first library. Ray Arthur was elected librarian and the new library was placed in his home. All members of this society had free access to these books, with non members paying 5 cents for each book checked out. This was not enough to hire a librarian, however, a meeting was called and the books were distributed among the members.
On February 2, 1925, the town council led by Mayor Amal Hemer made the following motion:
"On motion, made and seconded and carried, the following ordinance be adopted: that a Library Board of seven members be created to take charge of Arthur Library and funds belonging to same and carry on said with work according to said state laws pertaining to same. The council appoints the following members on said board:
Mrs. Henry Hink
Mrs. J.A. Carlson
Mrs. Alva Volz
Mrs. G.E. Clifford
Mrs. George Roll
This was signed by J.A. Carlson, Clerk, and Amal Hemer, Mayor.
The Arthur Public Library was first located in the basement of the Ida County State Bank in Arthur. The library continued to add more items and eventually outgrew the original building and moved to the cement block building on First Street which is now a garage owned by the Arthur Cafe. Story Hours were led by Connie Sharkey for the children in the area. Users of the library can remember the heating unit hanging from the ceiling in the back and the blast of hot air it created when it kicked in. Another fond memory includes showing old filmstrips on a sheet tucked into the book shelf in the back of the library--a long way from videos and DVDs! It remained there with Margaret Sharkey as librarian until 1985. The Arthur Community Building had been built on Main Street and included a room for the library in the front--with air conditioning and an efficient heating system! Volunteers formed a line and helped move the books to the new building. On April 27, 1985, at the ribbon cutting, Mayor Theron Kirkpatrick said, "This library may be small but great, but it is great in the wealth, knowledge and enjoyment we can get from it." Trustees were Rosemary Kirkpatrick, Myrtle Barker, Pat Bell, Bonnie Ellis, Deb Fineran, and board president Virginia Boggs. John Houlahan, director of the Northwest Iowa Regional Library was also present.
Margaret Sharkey continued as librarian for the Arthur Public Library until she retired in 1994 after serving the community for 24 years. She was replaced by Carol Johnson who was the first librarian to receive certification by the State Library of Iowa. In 1998 she was replaced by Patti Maae. Pat Bell accepted the position of Library Director in May 1999 and remained into the position until 2018. Kailey Childers took over the position fo Library Director in 2018, and is the current Director.
As for volunteers, Darlene Pettengill served as assistant librarian from 1996-2001. Tagg Kitterman joined the library team as a volunteer from 2006-2014. Stacy Segebart, Becca Barnum, and Jon Bell have also volunteered at the library in the past.
In the summer of 2006 the library expanded to the front half of the Community Building, taking out the wall between the library and small meeting room. This doubled the size of the library and made it possible to have more much needed space. The Community Center continues to be rented by the community and used for fundraisers by the Arthur Emergency Responders, Arthur Fire Department, and Arthur Public Library.
The library has tried to keep pace with the new formats and programming. In 1999 there was only one small Internet computer available for both staff and public use. Today the library offers 3 public access computers plus one for staff use, as well as books on CD and tape, videos, DVDs, many magazines and the local newspapers and, of course, books. The Arthur Public Library expanded to the digital world in 2008 when we added online audio books using WILBOR, enabling our patrons to check out and download audio books at home. A few years later, e-books were added to the database. Recently, the name had been changed to Bridges, which unites the western and eastern parts of Iowa in one huge database. Patrons using this online service continue to grow and this has been a very good venture for our community. The staff has remained with one librarian and one volunteer.