Library History

From our archives

During the winter of 1868, a group of settlers formed a literary society, which met weekly to exchange books they had brought from the eastern homes.

After all books had been exchanged, read, and re-read, they decided to expand.  Twenty people joined to pool their resources for the purchase of books and magazines.  They called this group the Zumbrota Literary Society and Library Association.  For $15.00, a family could join for life.

The collection was housed in a room over the Thatcher General Store.

When Zumbrota incorporated as a village in 1877, the collection was supported by a one mill tax, and renamed the Free Public Library.  It was the first tax-supported library in the state.

Variously housed in the General Store, a millinery shop, the Good Templars Hall, and the bank building, the collection continued to expand.

In 1906 the library trustees contacted Andrew Carnegie to request funds for a library building.  Local legend has it that when they received no reply, the trustees wrote again, enclosing a stamped, self-addressed return envelope.

The Carnegie Library, the smallest Carnegie building in Minnesota, opened in 1908 at the corner of East Ave and 3rd Street.  It served as Zumbrota’s Public Library for 87 years.  The Carnegie building is still devoted to intellectual pursuits as “Crossings at Carnegie” a gallery and pottery studio which also offers classes and workshops.

The new public library opened in 1995.  It is 10,400 square feet, and offers for public use around 50,000 books, several thousand videorecordings, music CDs, magazines, 10 PCs, free wi-fi access and a meeting room.  Story hours for preschool children are held weekly on Tuesday mornings.  Special story hours and children’s programs are held throughout the year.