In the Beginning 1916-1961
The Randolph Public Library was started by the Randolph Woman’s Club. They, feeling the need for a public library, began collecting books. Interest in the project grew and books were donated by interested persons. The books were assembled in a room downtown and made available to the public.
In March of 1916, the Commercial Club having looked into the matter of a Carnegie Library, took action. They found the three main requirements were: a site, at least one thousand books, and maintenance by the city. A Committee was appointed to investigate the matter of a site. The Woman’s Club voted to turn over their collection of more then one thousand books to the library. In September of 1916, the City Council passed a resolution to levy a tax for the purpose of maintaining a library.
Mayor O.O. Reed received word from the Carnegie Corporation in November of 1916 that Randolph’s application for a library had met their approval and that six thousand dollars had been appropriated for that purpose.
In May of 1917, the first Library Board was appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council. In August of that same year, it was reported that $1,034.50 had been collected of which $450.00 had been paid to Z. Boughn for lots.
In November a notice to bidders was offered, but when they were received all exceeded the amount of money on hand, and were rejected. Matters then hung in the balance until May of 1918, when the bid of J.B. Shearer for $6,600.00 was accepted in September of 1918. Construction was started immediately and finished with opening day set for November 23, 1918. Mrs. Alice Monfort served as librarian from 1919 to 1925 in the new building.
In the intervening years, some of the improvements have been: the drinking fountain, indirect lighting system, two new furnaces- the oil furnace in 1939 and a gas furnace in 1955, the NuWood ceiling in the main room, attic insulation, magazine rack and extra shelving, the door book depository, and railings on the steps and stair. Most of these improvements were made while Carrie Miller Kerr (1925-1950) and Minnie Pittman (1950-1961) served as librarians. The Library proved to be an important addition to the community and saw 300-400 books circulating monthly.
Presented by Minnie Pitman for the Diamond Days of 1886.
Eva Gartner, librarian from 1961-1979, watched as the collection and circulation numbers grew. There was a definite need to alleviate the overcrowded conditions of the library and to establish a better environment for children and give them a room of their own. It was this discovery that led the Randolph Woman’s Club to go ahead with the Children’s Library project in 1978 and 1979. At this point a committee of six: Mrs. Jim Kilburn, Mrs. Jim Rasmussen, Mrs. George Bradley, Mrs. Marvin Taylor, Mrs. Roger Johnson and Mrs. Tom Mass were appointed to get the project underway.
A total of $1600.00 was contributed by thirty-one organizations and forty-one families. Help was enlisted from Brownies to senior citizens, from community clubs to church organizations. In a matter of months, with the outstanding cooperation of the Randolph community, the basement storage room was turned into a children’s room with beautiful Disney murals painted on the walls. Story hour officially opened the newly remodeled Children’s Library in June of 1979. It was at this time that Eileen Leicy took over the responsibilities of the head librarian.
Library collections and services became more diverse with each passing year. Technological improvements had a great impact on library services and required additional space. It was at this point in 2002 that the Randolph Library Building Committee was formed. Peggy Leiting, George Bradley, Jeff and Suz Gubbels, Dorothy Jensen, Pat VanSlyke, and Dorothy Walz served as chair people on the committee with several others helping with fundraising.
The committee worked with Joan Steffen, who served as librarian from 2001-2006 and the library board, members including Debra Wiese, Beulah Rokahr, RoseEdna Rohde, Sharon Borst and Helen Tunink, to make plans for a new building. This group worked incessantly to meet the goal of a new 5200 square foot library building.
Four years were filled with fundraisers from dancing fireman and local celebrities participating in a night of game shows to a New Year’s Eve dinner and wine tasting. Not to be forgotten are all the hamburgers that were flipped and the clothes and more clothes that were sorted for the biannual rummage sales. Although it took much organizing and lots of man power, there was a great deal of fun to be had.
All of the hard work paid off and over $300,000.00 was raised locally for the new library. This strong local commitment allowed for the opportunity to apply for and receive two large grants. The Community Development Block Grant and the Lied Foundation Trust each made $250,000.00 commitments to the new Lied Randolph Public Library.
On March 12, 2006, Governor Dave Heineman attended the groundbreaking ceremony, which incidentally was held indoors as an ice storm was approaching. Dirt and shovels were brought into the city auditorium and after the speeches were given and the first shovels of dirt were dug, everyone was invited to take a turn. Even the children brought their plastic shovels and participated. Peggy Leiting began her responsibilities as librarian in the fall of 2006.
The Friends of the Library organization, stemmed from the Randolph Building Committee, began at this time and was formed under the Randolph Area Foundation. Their purpose is to provide financial and volunteer support for programming and events such as the annual Lunch for the Library and biannual rummage sales.
The building was completed in 2007 and was formally dedicated on April 7 as the Lied Randolph Public Library after Ernst M. and Ida K. Lied, parents of Ernst F. Lied. Prior to the dedication students from the Randolph Public Schools helped move approximately 15,000 books by forming a human chain.
The additions of a meeting room, genealogy room and computer room have made a tremendous difference in the activities and programs that can be held. The library offers more than books with high speed internet and WI-FI now available. Genealogy researchers may use the microfilm machine to view the Randolph Times dating back to 1895. There are also online databases, e-books, DVD’s, and audio books.
In 2009, a SmartBoard was purchased and is used for interactive learning and games during the after school and summer programs. Once again, monthly circulation numbers of books, movies and magazines increased to approximately 1,250. Computer usage soared with an average of 325 patrons per month surfing the web.