Library History


Powers Memorial Library History

1917 – 200 books 230 patrons
The first library was in a building that had just been vacated by the village. The Village Board, Town Board, caucuses, elections, justice trials, and fire equipment had formally occupied the building. Librarian – Mrs. Dodson, Assistants – Miss Demarest and Mrs. Colton.
1918
The first building the library was housed in was sold to Eagle Telephone Company and the library had to relocate four months and two days from their opening day. They moved into a storage shed/woodshed in back of the Enterprise, on what is now Second Street. Lura Dow was the owner of the building. Rent was $8.00 per month. The librarian was paid $1.50 per week. It was a frame building behind the present stone block building (Kaufman’s Insurance) on Second Street. It was painted red and consisted of a large room and a small side room, not much more than eight feet wide. The building was used as a community center and now had a cabinet organ.
1926
Communications with W. P. Powers of California began. He was considering the building of a library in honor of his parents – David and Eliza Powers, and to house portraits of them. For the sum of $1.00 the Library Board secured an option on the land of Robert and Luella McLery and presented it to the village. The library was built for the sum of $10,000, a gift to the village of Palmyra from William P. Powers
1927 – October
Dedication, October 25th at 2 P.M (By Peg O’Brien)
“A golden day came to Palmyra Tuesday, making of all other days in the annals of the village but stepping stones to a great occasion – the dedication of the Powers Memorial Library. It was in every respect a golden symphony with a halcyon autumn day streaming golden sunlight upon that vast audience seated in front of the artistically fashioned tile and stucco building – The Powers Memorial Library. Amber lights at the entrance of the library reflected the glorious sunlight, vyling with the gold in the maple leaves, a few of which dropped their benediction upon the listeners grouped under the trees.”
The architectural firm of Claude and Starck of Madison, Wisconsin planned the building. The 25×40 foot building is of Spanish architecture and is stuccoed in oriental Californian finish. The creamy exterior is elaborated by terra cotta pillars at the entrance and balcony, and has ornamental iron grillwork at the Spanish windows, which comprises the front wall of the Reading Room.
1928
The piano arrives from Iowa, a gift from Lenore Schultz, granddaughter of Enterprise Editor O.P. Dow.
1931
Railing installed on front steps.
1932
It was decided not to install a telephone.
1933
A four-drawer file was purchased and the cataloging of books began.
1934
Mrs. H.L. Colton, who for the last seven years has served as Librarian in the Powers Memorial Library and five years in the old library, has tendered her resignation to the Library Board to take effect November 1st. Miss Edith Congdon was chosen as Librarian. She served until 1962 when she passed away. Amelia Demarest was Assistant Librarian.
1936
Library was painted, and electric furnace fan installed. “Gone With the Wind” was purchased for $2.16.
1939
A new furnace was installed.
1940
Dora Smith became the Assistant Librarian upon the death of Amelia Demarest.
1941
In February, the Library Board adopts a policy of not allowing piano to be taken out of the library.
1943
Honor Roll placed in front of library.
1948
Electric clock honoring George Holcomb given to the library.
1952 – 25th Anniversary
Library was used for T.B. clinic.
1958
Elaine Tans – Assistant Librarian
1960
Elise Christiansen – Assistant Librarian
1962
Edith Congdon, who served the library for 27 years, passed away. Elise Christiansen kept the library open until Mrs. Leola Turner was appointed Librarian. She served for 12 years.
1974
Trudy Walechka served as Librarian.
1975
Sally Mason was appointed Librarian. Rosetta Cady retires from Library Board after serving 21 years. Lucille Brown was appointed to the Library Board.
1976
Dorothy Cummings retired from the Library Board having served 12 years. Altha Kincaid retires after serving 18 years, 17 of them as the treasurer.
1977 – 50th Anniversary
1977 marked the 50th year since the Powers Library was built and given to the people of Palmyra. On October 22nd, and Open House was held to celebrate. A 16mm projector was received from local donations. Also, adult patrons can now check out phonograph records. Basement carpeted.
1978
For the first time in the history of Powers Memorial Library, the library will be open Monday through Saturday to serve the public. New roof put on. Microfilm collection of the Palmyra Enterprise started with 10 reels covering 1874 to 1903.  (2002 – The collection has grown. We now have 1874 to 1965)
1979
Library joins the Jefferson County Library Service.
1980
Powers Memorial Library becomes a member of the Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System. In February, there was a joint meeting of Village and Library Boards to discuss alternative solutions to the library’s space needs. Kiwanis Club votes to assist the Library Board with a building fund drive. First donations received for the fund.
1981
3,000 items were moved downstairs forming a Children’s Library. Cassette tapes became available to patrons. June of 1981, Village Board endorsed the plan of proposed addition and authorized the Library Board to sign a contract with George DeQuardo.
1982
Videodiscs, microfiche, and microfilm readers received from the system.
1983
Library opens 2 mornings a week.
1985
Color TV given by the Kiwanis Club. First videos purchased for the library. Library Friends group started. Another try for a construction grant receives approval on August 12th. October – Ground broken for addition.
1986 – 11,300 Books, 1,700 patrons
“The dedication and open house for the new addition to the Powers Memorial Library was held on Saturday, April 20th, as nearly 100 area residents turned out for the festivities. Library Director Sally Mason, welcomed friends of the local library as numerous speeches and presentations were made that afternoon.”
1989
Kimetia (Ki) Jennejohn is hired as Director, followed by Barbara Jamieson from August 1989 – January 1990.
1990
Sally Mason again became Director. Apple II GS computer purchased for library use.
1991
On October 25th – The 64th Anniversary of the Library’s Dedication

Alndis and Gyr Powers presented Powers Memorial Library with the company archival materials and William Penn Powers memorabilia.
1993
After 18 years, director Sally Mason leaves to work at the Whitewater Library. Ann Fridl from the Whitewater Library is hired as Director.
1997
Powers Memorial Library automates. Computers were added and Internet access becomes available to the public.
1998
First music CD’s are added to the library’s collection.
2001
DVD’s are added to the library’s collection of movies. The furnace for the upstairs part of the library is replaced.
2002 – 31,392 holdings and 2,629 patrons on file
Ann Fridl leaves as Director to work in Jacksonville, Florida Library System. And Schade, from the Lake Mills Library is hired as new Director. Space has once again become a problem for the library. The Library Board and Director look for solutions for the space problem. Computers are upgraded and new system is in the process of being implemented. The library joins Fort Atkinson and Jefferson Libraries in a shared automation system bringing the resources of all three libraries to Palmyra community members.
Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Open House for Citizen’s of the Community
2004
Ann Schade leaves for a job at Edgewood College. Kathleen Hookham is hired as the new Director to start January 2005.
2005
Midas agreement is signed for a shared automation consortium combining Jefferson, Dodge and Washington counties.
2006
The Midas agreement is changed to the S.H.A.R.E. (Shared Holding and Resource Exchange) Consortium combining Jefferson, Dodge, Washington, Walworth and Racine counties. SIRSI automation program is chosen to bring resources from the five counties to local residents.
2007
In January, The SIRSI automation program goes live bringing materials from 44 libraries to area residents. Residents can place hold on materials that are delivered to the library every day except Saturdays.
2015
Director Kathleen Hookham left Powers Memorial Library in July of this year. Angela Zimmermann was hired as Library Director in September 2015.