How your library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.
In 1878, a group of citizens started the Library Association in Waukee with $30 worth of books. In spite of an 1879 newspaper account that the Library Association was increasing and doing fine, it faded from existence.
In July 1885, a new library with I.G. Wallace as librarian opened. Like the Library Association, this library also eventually closed.
Waukee’s current public library was established in 1929 and opened with 500 books provided by the Traveling Library of the State of Iowa. Mrs. Lyle served as the first librarian. The books were exchanged every 90 days. In addition to the 500 books provided by the traveling library, the Waukee library contained 190 permanent volumes.
In 1941, all the books were lost in a fire when the Leonard Building burned. At that time, Sadie Wilder was the librarian.
The library opened again in 1942 with 150 new books. Sometime between 1942 and 1969, the library moved into the back room of City Hall at 410 6th Street. Amy Hofstot served as librarian from 1944 to 1975. In 1969, it was reported that the library received 200 books quarterly from the traveling library and owned 3,866 volumes. Nearly 300 books were checked out during the month of February, 1969.
After Hofstot retired, Hannah Weil and Ann Ford served as librarians in addition to their jobs as city hall employees. Jane Brown became Library Director in 1979 and served until 1986 when Diane Findlay became the new Director.
Friends of the Waukee Public Library was formed in 1987 to support the library with volunteers and gifts. The Friends, Library Board, Director Findlay completed a successful fund rasing drive, and coupled with the passage of a small bond issue, the library purchased the old Christian Church building at 500 6th Street. After remodeling, the library moved in Octber 1990.
Linda Mack was hired as Library Director in 1992. The Waukee Public Library Foundation was formed in 1993 to help meet the long-term financial needs of the library. In 1994, the library had 2 full time and 2 part time employees and a collection of approximately 10,000 items. The library automated its circulation in 1996 by selling quilt squares embroidered by Joy Tofteland. The quilt hangs in the library's conference room today.
A bond issue for a new library building was placed before the voters in May 2000, and passed by 89 percent. Public meetings were held to determine what the citizens wanted in the new library building. Ground was broken in September 2001, and construction began in the spring of 2002. The $2 million building cost was covered by the bond issue. Through gifts and grants, the Waukee Public Library Foundation raised another $200,000 for furnishings, fixtures, and equipment.
The building, located on Warrior Lane, officially opened on March 3, 2003. The new Waukee Public Library is nearly 14,000 square feet. It was designed to have a 12,000 square foot addition on the north side for shelving, meeting rooms and a story time room as the city grows. The building architects were FEH Associates.
Mack retired in Feb. 2009.