Finley Public Library

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Brief History of Finley Public Library

Cora Shelstad is one of the
library's charter members
She was a County Health Nurse
from 1947 - 1960.
Finley Public Library began on a shelf
in the Hutson & Eide Store
(circa 1911) located at 204 4th
Street West, the present
location of the Dakota Rural Water District. 
The next location of the “library”
book shelf was the Johnson Store
(now the empty lot just south
of the Press Box).

   Finley Public Library was the brainchild of the ladies of the Progressive Homemakers which had begun in 1935 in Finley.

    In 1940 a member of this group, Addie Nash, had the idea that they could join the Literary Book club and share the books among themselves and with others in the area.  By charging a ten cent fee for a two week loan of the book of your choice, the ladies could pay for the purchased books and be able to buy more.  At first the books were on a shelf in the Hutson-Eide store (now the water district building), with Eide serving as the fee collector. 

The next location of the “library” book shelf was the Johnson Store (now the empty lot just south of the Press Box). (see above)

Not there long, the books were moved upstairs above the old fire house (where the Wildlife Club has met until recently) where the books stayed about ten years.  Soon after the new fire house (now the ambulance garage) was built, the books were moved there—mostly because the upstairs location was difficult for many patrons--and stayed there for five years. 

The next move (1968) was to the cloakroom in the auditorium (now the kitchen).  By then the library was already having growing pains according to charter members of the library, Mildred Gilbertson and Cora Shelstad (see above). Several other groups—including the PTA, Order of the Eastern Star, American Legion Auxiliary, Finley Lions Club and other Home-maker groups had been helping since 1959 and continued to do so.   

In 1989 the Finley City Council announced their intent to raise $15,000 to purchase the former Bell Telephone Company building at 302 Broadway which was owned by Robert Schmaltz, but found it harder than expected.  Local residents were called upon for financial donations including a raffle for a TV set with remote control to help raise the money to help pay Mr. Schmaltz.  The Finley Improvement Assn. provided $3500 to the project.

Before the library could open at its new location many hours were spent by Don Bergenheier building shelves, Bill Bremer installing better lighting, and others too numerous to mention.  About twenty men gathered by Bergenheier moved the books from the auditorium to their new home in about two hours. 

The library board was reorganized and included Marie Devlin, President; June Hofseth, Vice-President; and Joyce Jerstad, Secretary-Treasurer.  (Jerstad is still on the board.)  Some of these ladies’ ideas have come to pass:  there is a children’s room; there have been at different times reading and summer programs for children; an extensive selection of large print books are available; memorial boards hang in the hallway.   A new room for paperback books was completed in 2011 using Library Memorial funds still held by the City, grant money from Finley Community Endowment Fund and the extreme generosity of Finley Lumber and the late Nolan Verwest.  Brian Tuite was the go-to man for this project. 

The Finley Public Library continues as a volunteer organization that serves the surrounding area.  It celebrated twenty-five years at 302 Broadway in 2014.

Finley Public Library Today
 ~updated March 2014
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Finley, North Dakota

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