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.
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.
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.
The piano arrives from Iowa, a gift from Lenore Schultz, granddaughter of Enterprise Editor O.P. Dow.
Railing installed on front steps.
It was decided not to install a telephone.
A four-drawer file was purchased and the cataloging of books began.
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.
Library was painted, and electric furnace fan installed. “Gone With the Wind” was purchased for $2.16.
A new furnace was installed.
Dora Smith became the Assistant Librarian upon the death of Amelia Demarest.
In February, the Library Board adopts a policy of not allowing piano to be taken out of the library.
Honor Roll placed in front of library.
Electric clock honoring George Holcomb given to the library.
1952 – 25th Anniversary
Library was used for T.B. clinic.
Elaine Tans – Assistant Librarian
Elise Christiansen – Assistant Librarian
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.
Trudy Walechka served as Librarian.
Sally Mason was appointed Librarian. Rosetta Cady retires from Library Board after serving 21 years. Lucille Brown was appointed to the Library Board.
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.
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)
Library joins the Jefferson County Library Service.
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.
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.
Videodiscs, microfiche, and microfilm readers received from the system.
Library opens 2 mornings a week.
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.”
Kimetia (Ki) Jennejohn is hired as Director, followed by Barbara Jamieson from August 1989 – January 1990.
Sally Mason again became Director. Apple II GS computer purchased for library use.
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.
After 18 years, director Sally Mason leaves to work at the Whitewater Library. Ann Fridl from the Whitewater Library is hired as Director.
Powers Memorial Library automates. Computers were added and Internet access becomes available to the public.
First music CD’s are added to the library’s collection.
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. Ann 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
Ann Schade leaves for a job at Edgewood College. Kathleen Hookham is hired as the new Director to start January 2005.
Midas agreement is signed for a shared automation consortium combining Jefferson, Dodge and Washington counties.
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.
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.
Director Kathleen Hookham left Powers Memorial Library in July of this year. Angela Zimmermann was hired as Library Director in September 2015.
Director Angela Zimmerman left Powers Memorial Library in December of 2016. Laura Gest was hired as Library Director in February 2017.
Director Laura Gest left Powers Memorial Library in August of 2018. Erik Braun was hired as Library Director in September 2018.
Director Erik Braun left Powers Memorial Library in August of 2019. Traci Plotz was hired as Library Director in September 2019.
COVID-19 forced the Library to close it’s doors and only offer curbside services from March 17, 2020 to March 29, 2020. On March 30, 2019 the library was forced to shut down per a State of Wisconsin Emergency Order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The library was able to offer curbside services beginning April 27, 2020 and later re-opened to the public with shortened hours and limitation on June 25, 2020. Powers Memorial Library was able to remain open at reduced hours and limitation, including virtual programming until a staffing shortage due to COVID-19 exposure, increase in COVID numbers and holiday precautions caused the library to revert back to curbside only services on November 5, 2020.
Powers Memorial Library allowed patrons back in the building beginning January 18, 2021, still keeping reduced hours and occupancy limitations. Programs were still being held virtually, until June 1, 2021. On June 1, 2021 the board gave approval to open back up to regular operating hours (Monday and Wednesday 11am-7pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9am – 7pm, Friday 11am-5pm and Saturday 10am-2pm). June also saw a return to in-person programming with a limit of 10 attendees and children’s programming being offered outside.
Director Traci Plotz left in May. Director Kristine Dexheimer was hired in May 2022.