News: Colby (Library 140 Year History - 2019)

Transcriber: Robert Lipprandt 

Surnames: Calmes, Colby

----Source: The Tribune-Phonograph (Abbotsford, WI) 1/23/2019

ONE OF MANY HOMES - Colby Public Library moved into this building on South Second
Street in 1916. The library stayed there for nearl 40 years before moving into the city hall
building at 211 W. Spence Street. The building picutred above is long bone, and the space
is now occupied by a church parking lot.)

The Colby Library story began in 1879 with a visit by railroad personnel, including Charles L. Colby.

A donation of $250 from these railroad officials resulted in 57 books, written in German, to be located n the back of a law office in town in December of 1879. Thus began the Colby Library’s 140 year journey of continuous library service.

After the law office located in, the library found its home in a doctor’s office and a Masonic temple.

Then, the library shared quarters with two different city government/fire department buildings. The first one was located in what is now Colby’s First United Church of Christ parking lot on South Second Street. This building also housed a jail for a time. The library moved into a portion of the building in 1916.

The next “combination” government building was in the current Colby City Hall, built in 1952. At that time, the building at 211 W. Spence Street held the city government office and council room, the fire department, the library, and the basement was used for dinners and dancing.

When the new fire hall was built at its current location, a remodeled of the Colby City hall in 1991 found the library in the space formerly used by the fire department with the city government occupying the rest of the building.

By 2015, the Colby Public Library had long outgrown its space needs and had been on the city of Colby’s five-year plan several times. A few ideas were being debated about what type of library expansion was feasible, including a move to a former clinic building or a city hall remodel.

The fate of the Colby Library took an exciting twist on the evening of December 18, 2015, when anonymous donors came forward to offer support for a free-standing new library for the City of Colby.

Over the next two years, a new library was designed and built at the current location of 505 W. Spence Street, Previously, this site housed the Colby Lower Elementary (built in 1910 and demolished in the 1980’s) and in later years, the Colby District Education Center (built in 1959 and demolished in 2017).

The beautiful new Colby Community Library opened on December 18, 2017. This past December, the library celebrated “Here One Year.”

December of 2019 will mark 140 years that the citizens of the Colby area have supported a public library. An interesting side note is that the Milwaukee Public Library was formed in 1878, and the small town of Colby followed only one year later.

In recognition of this great feat, CCL director Vicky Calmes and staff are planning a “Countdown of the Decades” to culminate in a “Let’s party like its 1879” on December 5, 2019, at the CCL.




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