Library History

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

The bible classes of the Methodist and Baptist churches answered the call when they heard people saying Fredericksburg needed a library. The first library was one shelf in a corner of a local store, then later was housed in an upstairs room of that store. It was a small room with a single light bulb and the librarian in charge was responsible for building a fire and carrying out the ashes. The library remained there for several years.

 In 1935, a public meeting was held to organize a better library.  Board members were elected and by-laws were drawn. The library was opened to the public one afternoon a week and the board meetings were held monthly. All expenses of the library in the past had been met by private donations. Letters were sent to clubs, lodges and business places asking to help finance the library.

In 1941, the Board decided to pay the librarian one dollar per month. The library joined a traveling library commission. More shelves were added, books were purchased and cash donations started to come in.

In September 1954, the library moved to two rooms in the new community hall.  In 1967, the library joined the Iowa Library Cooperative and  expenses were met with town and county taxes. Thirty five hundred books were put into circulation in 1965, the Dewey decimal system was being used to inaugurate the books on the shelves.  There were no extra programs because the existing space did not allow for it. With only two small rooms, there was no space for seating and only a small space for reference materials.

Vern Upham purchased a building at 138 West Main Street in Fredericksburg. Funds were raised and through the efforts of the mayor, the city council, and the library board, the building was remodeled. The Kinney Lindstrom Foundation donated shelving and furniture. Many individuals donated manpower to help with the remodeling work as well as moving the books across the street to the new library, now named the Upham Memorial Library. The building was given to the city in 1975 by Vernon Upham in memory of his wife Dahlia. The building had 1500 square feet which was room for the entire collection. There were two paid employees. Funds for the library came from city and county taxes.

Technology began to change, children's programming began and the library entered the high demand for information age. By 1994, the building was no longer large enough and an expansion project began. Donations were given by Fredericksburg residents, alumni and area businesses. A Friends of the Library group was organized. The entire project was completed with donated labor with then Board President David Fye as the work coordinator. 1995, the new portion of the library was dedicated. The space had more than doubled. The library had a meeting room, two large handicapped accessible bathrooms, a reading area, children's area and also an area for young adults as well as room for an audio and video collection. Librarians were expected to continue training to be able to offer more programs, services and classes to the patrons. The State of Iowa Library offered certification programs and the staff personnel were so certified.

Today, the library offers many programs for all ages. Computer and Internet classes as well as reading groups are available for patrons. There are three librarians and a janitor. The library is supported by city and county taxes; however many funds also come from grants and the Friends of the Library group.