Striving to enrich the quality of life for the residents of the Community of Hudson, the Hudson Public Library will provide full library services that are responsive to the current and anticipated needs of its patrons and will demonstrate leadership for the future development of the Community of Hudson.
The Hudson Public Library serves as an information, resource, and leisure center for the Community of Hudson. The library strives to provide materials, services, and programs that will promote an educated citizenry and enrich personal lives. These materials, services and programs are provided to help meet the educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the residents of the Community of Hudson.
History of the Hudson Public Library
Historical records of the Tuesday Study Club mention the desire of its members to establish a public library in Hudson as early as 1916. The club instituted a cooperative project with the school in 1923. By 1924, a Library Committee had been formed. In 1930, members voted to sponsor a demonstration of the library system in Waterloo for a period of one year. One month later Dorothy Evans and Verna Hogshead had transported 125 books from Waterloo, presumably to Town Hall, and had issued 25 library cards. The club received $5.00 from the Community Council to be used for book cupboards. Difficult times, most likely a result of the depression, led to Mrs. Evans reporting in 1931 that there was no possible way of continuing the County Library in Waterloo or in Hudson. The books and bookshelves were given to the school. In 1934, the club investigated a rental library sponsored by the Waterloo Club but it would be two more years before the dream of a community library would again become a possibility.
In April of 1936, Mrs. Stanley Taylor, Mrs. Arthur Evans, Mrs. Lee McKinnon, A.M. Donnan, B.M. Sweitzer, and George Strayer were invited to the home of Mr. and Mrs. H.R. Hollis to talk over the need for and possibilities of a community library. This group joined forces to become the Library Commission. All community organizations were invited to send a representative to an open meeting. The Hudson Garden Club and the Tuesday Study Club were recognized as being instrumental in the organization of the new library. The first officers elected were as follows: President, George Strayer; Vice President, Mrs. H.R. Hollis; Treasurer, A.M. Donnan; Secretary, Mrs. Arthur Evans. Mrs. Lee McKinnon acted as librarian until she moved to California later that year at which time Mrs. Jean Rosemond was asked to fill her unexpired term.
Permission was once again granted to utilize a portion of Town Hall and bookshelves were constructed by the manual training class on the lawn of the school. A table was built by the Hudson Lumber Company and donated 3 years later. Community members donated good used books on “book day” held May 23, 1936 and duplicate copies were sold to generate funds for the purchase of new books. The library officially opened on July 25, 1936. Donations from citizens and annual contributions made by local organizations financed the early operations of the new library. Funding increased when the town and Black Hawk Township began making annual contributions. Paper drives were held in 1942 with the paper being sold to the government for profit. The collection was further bolstered by the loan of 100 books every 3 months by the state travelling library.
Glea Johnson took over as librarian in 1942. The assistant librarian was Celeste Bemus. At the time of Hudson’s centennial celebration in 1957, the library was purchasing about 60 books a year, had 3 adult, 1 teenaged girls', and 1 childs' periodical subscription, a librarian and 1 high school assistant. The library was open 4 hours per week. Jean Rosemond served on the library board as president for many years. Also recognized for organizing and maintaining the library and helping to make it an integral part of the community were Mark Humphrey and the Reverend Harvey Moon.
As the town of Hudson continued to grow, so too did the demands for library service. When the fire department moved from the lower level of town hall in the summer of 1961, library supporters prepared to remodel the available space to be used for the growing collection. Several organizations including the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce and the Junior Women’s League contributed to the remodeling and furnishing of the new quarters. Phil Rosemond did most of the carpentry work. The fire equipment doors were enclosed with glass block and the room was repainted and redecorated including the addition of fluorescent lighting. The new quarters increased the space available to 900 sq. ft. The library board members at this time were President George Strayer, Vice President Jean Taylor, Secretary and Librarian Glea Johnson, Mrs. David Keith, Mrs. Kent Pellet, and Gus Ehrig. Mrs. June Gutknecht, who died January 31, 1962, was also a board member during the project. At the time of the move, the library owned about 2700 books and had about 1200 books on loan from the Eastern Iowa Cooperative and was open 10 hours per week. The library was supported by a tax levy from the town and Black Hawk Township.
Library supporters enjoyed smooth sailing for several years but by 1977 the collection had grown to 12,000 volumes and a lack of space for operations was again a major concern. A library fund was established and the City Council agreed to underwrite an architect to develop a preliminary building plan. Plans were approved for a 5,300-sq. ft. building at an estimated cost of $250,000. After about a year of fundraising, the committee began to look at purchasing and remodeling the recently available American Soybean Association office for use as a library and for city offices needed as a result of the limits of the aging city hall. With the support of the City Council, a bond issue for $175,000 went to the public on March 13, 1979. Unfortunately only 54.5% of the necessary 60% were yes votes and the issue failed to pass. After years of struggle the committee began planning an addition to their existing area. Once again, the issue was brought to the public in the form of a bond issue for $75,000. Headlines in the Hudson Herald for November 6, 1980 stated, “Hudson library bond issue passes!” In September of 1981, residents of Hudson were invited to an open house in celebration of the opening of the newly enlarged and remodeled Hudson Community Library.
In 1994, with the library collection having reached over 25,000 volumes, Horace Hegg agreed to accept an appointment as Chairman of the newly formed Building Committee. A generous donation given by Mabel Brown in memory of her late husband Dr. Guy C. Brown kicked off the fundraising campaign. Architect Tom Gardner developed a design for a new building and after investigating several options a site was chosen. Early in 1997 the Library Board of Trustees were notified of a bequest from the Jeanne Strayer estate. Several successful grants soon followed and both private and corporate donations brought the project closer to completion. On March 2, 1998 the Hudson City Council appropriated the funds necessary to reach the level for letting bids. The contract was later awarded to Huff Construction Company and excavation began early in the fall of 1998. A mild winter allowed work to continue at a steady pace. On June 24, 1999, men, women, and children from the community turned out in force to move the collection to the new Hudson Public Library.
It has been only through the efforts and devotion of many, many citizens that the Hudson Public Library is what it is today. We owe our thanks to the many volunteers and supporters through the ages who kept the vision through hard times as well as easier times. Their efforts allow us to turn the page on the past and step into the future.