Ionia Community Library

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Library History

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

 The Ionia Community Library was established April, 1974 by ordinance by town of Ionia.(This means we are a very “young” library).  The building was officially opened August 1974 and occupied the stage area of the old Lutheran Church building which had been purchased by the town for town meetings.  That building was old, small, hot in the summer and cold in the winter and smelly and the front door was the sidewalk width from a busy street.

Original funding for the library came from the Ionia Development Club and a reference material grant from the State Library of Iowa Commission.   Annual operation revenues are now received from the town of Ionia and from Chickasaw County.

Jane McGrane was hired as librarian (in training) and agreed to work for 1 year. A tremendous amount of help was provided by the Library Service area people Helen Knievel and Beverly Lind. They provided the librarian and community with the knowledge and tools to develop a viable good quality library.   For the first few years, volunteers helped with the cataloging and services at the library.   Currently (2015) Deb Finnegan is the “back-up” paid worker.

In June 1985, the Ionia City Council was notified of a gift-trust to the Ionia Community Library, in the amount of $29,000 given by Vern Bierbaum in memory of his wife, Leota  Bierbaum.  The gift was to be used to build a new library or remodel the existing one.  Later $10,000 more was added through the Bierbaum Trust for operation and maintenance of the library.  The trust also stipulated that the building money had to be used by November 1988.  After much discussion, it was decided to build a new building.

Needing more funds to make the new library what it needed to be, many local fund raising events took place.  The first Fireman’s Sweet Heart Steak Fry occurred that February and is still an annual fund raiser for the fire department and still taking place the Sunday closest to Valentine’s Day.  The first year they served 200, currently they serve over 500.

Memorial money was used for adult and children sized tables and chairs in our open areas. 

Every club and organization pitched in to raise the necessary funds, even a young mother on welfare found a way to raise $100 by baking and selling loaves of bread.

These efforts were indicative of why we chose to put the word “community” in our title at the very beginning of this library’s existence.  This has always been a “community” effort.

The Kinney-Lindstrom Foundation of Mason City awarded a furniture grant for $7,500 which was used for new steel and wood shelving and check out desk and other library operation furniture. 

Groundbreaking took place May 1988, books and furniture were moved into the new facility November 1988 and an  Open House was held June 25, 1989. General Contractor was  Stolz Construction, New Hampton, IA and architect was Weber-Pollard of Marshalltown,IA.

Unfortunately, by this time, Mr. Vern Bierbaum had also passed away, so the family was represented by Mrs. Bierbaum’s brother and wife. 

In 1989 this library with others in the county applied for a R. J. McElroy Trust Grant and received $15,000 to be divided to purchase a computer for each library.   WOW new building and a computer!!!!

The Ionia Community Library strives to continue to exist.  Grateful for the public and private support of the library we have been able to have new computers and equipment added when needed.  We have been able to provide a wide variety of programs for all ages.  The meeting room/council room is the local meeting place for morning coffee and senior citizen meetings, plus many other programs for all ages. 

Please visit the Ionia Community Library when you are in the area, if we are not open, find Jane, ( Yes, she is still there) and she will  open it.