HISTORY

Since the late 1800s, we have been a fixture in the community. Follow our story to see our growth and continued commitment to serving the City of Appleton.

 

Historic Timeline

 

1887

Elizabeth Jones spearheads the first successful attempt at a community reading room. At her own expense, Jones rents a room over Pardee's Store (near the corner of College Avenue and Morrison Street), provides materials, and solicits donations of books, magazines and newspapers.

1888-1894

In 1888, materials are given to a new organization in town, the Young Men's Christian Association. The YMCA operates the reading room until 1894, when a fire destroys most of the materials.

1896-1897

George Jones, Dr. Lummis, Mrs. J.S. Reeve and A.M. Smith open a new reading room on Oneida Street. Due to a lack of funds, the room offers only newspapers and periodicals. Funding remains an issue and the reading room closes on May 1, 1897.

1897

The Free Library Association offers to donate materials to the City of Appleton on the condition that a public library organizes. The city council accepts the offer, using council quarters above Petersen-Rehbein Meat Market (106 W. College Avenue) to house the library. Mayor Herman Erb, Jr. appoints the first library board of trustees on August 4.

The first publicly-owned library and reading room opens on September 1. Agnes L. Dwight, trained at the Library School of the Armour Institute of Technology, is the library’s first professional librarian.

1900

The City of Appleton constructs its first municipal building at 121 S. Oneida Street. The building houses the library on the main floor and City hall on the second floor.

1921

Library Children’s Department forms to serve the needs of children throughout the community.

1939

City hall offices move out of the municipal building giving the library additional space.

1954

The library undergoes an extensive remodel, including space for teens and new formats such as record albums and microfilm.

1970s

The library joins with other public libraries of Outagamie and Waupaca counties to help form the Outagamie Waupaca Library System (OWLS) creating opportunities for sharing materials, technology and knowledge.

1975

Friends of Appleton Library organizes to support library efforts.

1981

Outgrowing the space at 121 S Oneida Street, a new 70,000 square foot library opens up at 225 N. Oneida Street.

1982

The first online circulation system is installed.

1989

The Appleton Library Foundation organizes to provide for additional funding for library activities.

1995

The second floor expands to increase space and create a better, more flexible floorplan.

The library develops the first public library website in Wisconsin.

2008-2009

The library conducts building studies that result in recommendations for a new or remodeled library facility.

2009

The Friends of Appleton Library and the Appleton Library Foundation merge to form Friends of Appleton Public Library.

2011

The library undergoes organizational restructuring with a focus on 21st century library ideas. The Community Partnerships Section is created to work directly with local organizations and initiatives throughout the Fox Cities.

2013

The library completes a community-focus library planning effort resulting in the library's long-term strategic plan.