About Us

History of the Bancroft Public Library


The Bancroft Public Library was begun in 1961 by two young men of the community, William Droessler and James Kennedy, when they called a public meeting for the purpose of starting a library. Thirty-two persons attended this meeting and elected a temporary library board consisting of William Droessler, president, James Kennedy, Marian Inman, Carole Welp, Sarah Welp, Mary Oliver and Flora Bradley.

            The first library was located in one room of the Bancroft Public School. A book drive for the entire community was organized by William Shoenhair and the books collected were the nucleus of the new library. Many people of the community helped in the collecting, cataloging and shelving of books. They were assisted by a librarian from the North Iowa Library Extension at Mason City. The first permanent Library Board appointed by the town council consisted of the temporary board with the exception of Janet Shoenhair, appointed in place of Mary Oliver because only one person could serve from the rural community according to law. The staff of the first library was composed entirely of unsalaried volunteers.

            A new library building was constructed in 1969 on a site adjacent to Dr. T.J. Eganís office on land purchased from Dr. Egan. A donation of $10,000 was received from the Kinney-Lindstrom Foundation and a grant of $25,500 was received from the Federal Government. The balance was raided by pledges and gifts. Verne Logan was board president at the time of construction.

            Freida Wenzel was the first librarian, starting in the room at the public school and continuing in the new building. Janet Shoenhair assumed the duties as librarian in 1972. Mary Oliver assisted both librarians as a volunteer two days a week.

            The library is supported by local and county tax monies. The total budget in the 1979-80 fiscal year at the time of the writing of this history was $12,000.

            The present library board members in 1980 are Carole Welp, president, Madeline Summitt, secretary, Sarah Welp, Lorraine Becker, Julie Carey, Adrienne Garry and Jan Deitering. Others who have served on the board through the years are Alice Weber, Rose Ubben, Helen Inman and Ruth Welp.

            At the time of the writing of this history in 1980, the yearly circulation is approximately 20,000 books, magazines, records, movies, pamphlets and art prints. The library is a member of the North Central Regional Library System and can borrow from and lend to any library in the state. The grade school classes of St. Johnís School visit the library each week and check out books.

            According to past histories, in 1888 there was a collection of 200 volumes in a library in Greenwood Township. In 1890, there was a library in the Bank of Bancroft on the south side of East Main Street. The librarian was C.R. Morehouse. Historian George Bancroft, for whom the town was named, gave a six-volume set of The History of the United States of which he was the author, was always to be included in a library in the town of Bancroft, Iowa. The six-volume set is still in the Bancroft Public Library.

208 E. Ramsey Street, P.O. Box 347 Bancroft, IA 50517  |  Phone: 515-885-2753
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