J.J. Hands Library

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Library History

Read how this library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.

The first library in Lohrville was really a "Reading Room" located in a house just east of the present library.  This was started for the convenience of passengers waiting for the next train out of Lohrville.

In 1934, the present Community Builing, a PWA project, was started.  It was dedicated on September 28, 1935.  During the time of the construction of this building, the Women's Club decided that Lohrville needed some worthwhile reference and reading materials.  Therefore, a library was organized.  Books were solicited from persons in the community, and over 200 suitable books were donated.  Miss Blanch Hackett, Lake City Librarian, taught Mrs. A. E. Wheatley how to organize the library, and she became Lohrville's first librarian.  It is said that Mrs. Wheatley censored every book given to the library, and, if she felt that it was the least bit questionable, the book was not shelved.

The first official library was housed in the north upstairs room in the Community Building.  The Women's Club sponsored an Open House on May 17, 1935, and nearly 500 books were in the library at that time.

Mrs. Art Hunter was later hired to care for the library on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday evening for 50 cents a period.  In 1942, the salary was raised to $1.00.

Money for the library was raised by soliciations, bake sales, and benefit card parties.  Some organizations contributed $2.00 each.  The Town Council donated $10.00 the first year.  A "Tag Day" was held on July 26, 1941 which brought in $438.46.  The second, third, fourth, and fifth year they paid $50.00.  During the first six years, 200 books were purchased, and the Librarian received $50.00 per year.

In 1934, the will of the late J. J. Hands was read, and this will provided monies to be used for a free Public Library for the town of Lohrville.  The Town Council accepted this - but nothing more was done.

On May 31, 1945, the Town Council took over the library, maintaining it with money from the J. J. Hands estate and tax levy.

The first Library Board members appointed by the Council were:  Ross Picht, Mabel Powers, Idaa Rushton, Margaret Seeck, Verna Buffham, and Oliver Runquist.  Harriet Horner was to continue her position as librarian.  In June of thatr same year, Mrs. O. E. Hibbs, president of the Lake City Library Board, and Mrs. Della Snow, Lake City Librarian , met with the Board and explained the duties of the librarian and the board of trustees.

The library fund was controlled by the treasurer of the Town Council, so all book fines were turned over to him and the Library Board voted a "desk fund" for current expenses.

The next years were very difficult ones due to the differences between the Council and the Library Board.

In 1958, the contruction of the present J. J. Hands Library was started.  The furniture was obtained from Iowa State Industries.

The Library was officially moved from the north upstairs room of the Community Building to the new building in March of 1960.  An "Open House" was held September 28, 1960, with about 125 persons attending.  During the week all the of the pupils from the Elementary School visited the Library.

During the year 1961, the Happy Hour Club presented the Library with a Dictionary stand.  The Library Board also met with other Boards in the County to discuss a County Tax which would help the Libraries and provide rural families with library facilities.

In July of 1962, the Library was open fifteen hours a week.  Mrs. Horner was librarian and Mrs. Esther Lawson was assistant.  In December of that year, Mrs. Horner resigned, due to ill health, and Mrs. Lawson became librarian, and Mrs. Johen McCullough with Mrs. Mary Kerr were assistants.  In March of 1964, Mrs. Toni Kerns was appointed librarian.

In 1965,  Mrs. Norma Luhmann was appointed librarian.  She held this position until her death in 1978.

In 1968, the Presbyterian Church gave the library two flag stands and a large pulpit Bible.  With money given by them,  a State of Iowa flag was purchased.  Dick Heath presented the U. S. flag to the Library.  An air conditioner was purchased and placed above the south door.

A World Book encyclopedia cart, consisting of a set of World Book, an Atlas, and two volume dictionaries was purchased with money given from the Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund.  During this same year of 1969, extensive remodeling was done.

In 1975, the windows in the east side of the Library were taken out and the wall was then used for shelving.  At the same time, another air conditioner was installed.

In September of 1978, Eleanor Waterbury was appointed Librarian.

During the years many pieces of furniture and many, many books have been presented to the library as Memorials.  On special memorial should be mentioned in this history.  A Seth Thomas Electric Chime Mantle Clock was presented to the Library in memory of Norma Luhmann in 1978 by her daughters, Mrs. Robert (Johen) McCullough, and Mrs. Chuck (Jill) Brozek.  The clock is placed on the south wall of the library, so that it is clearly visible to anyone entering the library.

As of May 1980, the contents of t he J. J. Hands Public Library includes: 5,625 Adult fiction books, 3,558 Adult non-fiction books, 2,039 Juvenile books, 730 paperback books, 50 magazines/periodicals, 269 records and tapes, and 30 Science-fiction paperback books, typewriters, a movie projector, screen and a photocopy machine. 

In May 1980 the Library Staff included: Eleanor Waterbury-Librarian, Board President-Alice Healy, Board Members-Ken Robb, Mary Gutshall, Toni Kerns, Helen Lohr, Lucinda Smith, and Marie Taiber.

In August of 1981, Ardus (Mrs. Tom) Adams took over as the new librarian, upon Eleanor Waterbury's retirement.

Several new remodeling projects were done to the library during 1980-1982.  In the summer of 1980, central air conditioning was installed.  During January or 1982, the entire interior of the library was panelled.  .  The library was very fortunate to recieve a Directory Board and letters as a memorial to Marie Taiber, a long-time and faithful library board member, during April of 1982.

At this time the Library Board consisted of: Tom Adams, Marilynn Collis, Mary Gutshall, Alice Healy, Betty Imhoff, Lon Kobernusz, Lucinda Smith and Ardus Adams, librarian.

Upon Ardus' retirement on December 5, 1996, Sharon (Mrs. Paul) Vogel became Library Director and Jane (Mrs. Duane) Beschorner was hired as Assistant Librarian. 

 

EXPANSION OF LIBRARY

In 2000, the estate of Erma Springer was settled.  Erma was a long time resident of the Lohrville area.  Erma stipulated in her will that 20% of her estate would be distributed to the J. J. Hands Library in Lohrville.  This gift initiated talk of building a new, larger library to address cramped conditions that had resulted from the addition of public access computers, videos, DVD's, and audio books.  Even with the substantial gift we received, an addition to the present building was determined to be more financially feasible. 

Gene Kinney of GK Builders worked with the library staff to design an addition that would include morespace, natural lighting and a meeting room.

Additional funding for the expansion came through the Roy J. Carver Trust and the Calhoun County Foundation.  Other monies were obtained from the J. J. Hands Trust.  The new addition was completed in 2006 expanding the library from 850 sq. feet to approximately 1,740 sq. feet.

The expansion also increased the adjoining kitchen area, leading from the meeting room of the library to the community building.  After adding A/C to the community building, the usages are now virtually endless.

February 2011, the library staff includes Jane Beschorner-Director, Melanie Farley and Connie Kavanaugh-Assistants.

 

Further Staff Changes

In 2012 Jane Beschorner resigned and Delsey Hinners of Dayton,IA was hired as the new Director.

As of September 2013, the library staff includes, Delsey Hinners-Director, Melanie Farley and Keziah Cline-Assistants.

January 2013 Delsey Hinners resigned from her position as director.

February of 2013 Keziah Cline was hired as the new Director. Keziah Cline was born and raised in Lohrville IA.

As of February 2014, the library staff includes, Keziah Cline-Director, Melanie Farley and Abby Cline-assistants and Jai Blair-Custodial/Fill in.