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Library History

Brief History of the Fayette Community Library by Linda K. Adams, Director

Construction and subsequent operation of the Fayette Community Library represents an enterprise encompassing the cooperation of a large group of organizations and individuals.  Although its support came from the combined efforts of both men and women, the predominance of women and women's groups is evident.

The concept of a Community Library originated with the Shakespeare Club, a member of the Federated Women's Organization.  In the spring of 1934 a committee was appointed to study the need for and the possibility of establishing a public library in Fayette.  Emily Swartz gave a report at the first recorded meeting on October 11, 1934.  At that time the following were appointed to prepare a constitution and by-laws, Oliver Stevenson, Emily Swartz, Mrs. Harold Hoyt, and Ruth Baker.  A scouting committee consisting of Donald Seavy, Mrs. Billings, Mary Perry, Mrs. Caudle, Mrs. Ward and Ray Belles were also set up.  Many clubs and organizations showed their support.

In 1936 the control of library shifted to the town council.  Some financial support was now made available from local taxation but the chief burden of support still came from clubs and individuals.  On October 26, 1943, the first Library Board was set up.  Mrs. Lodwick, Jeanette Bender, Don Seavy, Ray Belles, Mrs. Oelberg, Marcia McNee and Mrs. Persis Kiel were members.

Records of the first years show concern for such matters as writing and adopting a constitution and by-laws, ways and means of raising money, handling publicity and providing furniture and fixtures.

Under the leadership of Mary Perry and Helen Stranahan, a concerted drive to raise funds and create interest in the library was instituted in 1941.  Then in 1943, disaster struck when the library was destroyed by fire.  Concern for rebuilding then dominated the group.  This was given impetus when in 1946 Wilbur and Dorothy Bell and Paul and Icel Templemen offered large contributions for a new building.  By 1947 Wilbur Bell presented detailed plans for the construction.  The structure was completed in 1951 and formally opened in 1952. 

By 1967 the Library Board was considering an addition to the building.  This project was made possible in large part through an appreciable contribution from the Nellie Stevenson estate together with a grant from the Kinney-Lindstrom Foundation.  This new addition contains the Oliver Stevenson Fine Arts Memorial.  An open house commemorating its completion was held on May 24, 1970.

In 1995 the Library Board started plans for a new physical arrangement.  Walls were removed and windows added to the East and South.  Although the actual footage was not changed the new arrangement allowed for an enlarge children's area, a computer lab and visibility throughout the library from the circulation area. With the new improvements the heating, cooling and lighting systems were also updated to be more cost efficient. In August 1997 the library became automated allowing better accessibility to the 17,000 volume collection. 

The Hubbell residence located to the south of the library became available for sale in 1997 and was purchased from the Hubbell children for a possible ICN/meeting room addition by the city of Fayette.  The Fayette Community Library received an $180,000 grant from the State to run the fiber optic to the library, this also provide a seven year lease on the fiber optic equipment in the FOT room.  The board with the city's approval moved forward to build a 1700 square foot addition at the cost of $249,000 for the building and equipment. This addition would house the FOT room, an ICN classroom, two handicap restrooms and additional storage room for the library.  In 1999 the Fayette Community Library completed the new expansion project, included the largest ICN classroom in the state, with help from the community and various grants.   The ICN classroom is used as a meeting room for many community activities.