The first record of a library in the Cerro Gordo County town of Swaledale comes from a newspaper article dated November 7, 1923. Mrs. William Leonard, president of the local Parent-Teacher Association, led the effort to establish a library, which officially opened the following Saturday, November 10. It was housed within a local general store with an initial collection of 75 books.
The current incarnation of the library dates to March 1973, when a meeting was held to formally organize a community-supported public library. The library opened officially opened on June 29, 1973. It was moved to its present location in 1975, with an addition completed in June 1980. Open five days each week, the Swaledale Public Library is run by librarian Nancy Watt.
The first public library in the Clayton County community of Monona was established in 1929 by the local women’s club. After five years of operation, the city council passed an ordinance to support the library, which was then moved to a room within the city hall. It moved to its present location in 1973, a brick building constructed with funds from the estate of resident Florence Murphy. To honor her generosity, the library was renamed the Murphy Memorial Library.
In 1956, the Culture Club in the Floyd County town of Rudd formed a committee to establish a public library. Space in a vacant barbershop was quickly secured, and a library was opened with donated books and volunteer librarians. The library relocated in 1959 before moving to its present facility in 1967. Half of the funds for the $16,000 brick building were raised by the community; the remaining money was donated by the Mason City-based Kinney Lindstrom Foundation.
The first permanent library building in the Henry County town of New London was donated by resident N.J. Nugen in 1935. Nugen accompanied the building donation with a sizable trust fund, with annual interest from the funds used to purchase equipment and books for the library. By the late 1960s, the collection had outgrown its space and the community began looking into a new facility.
Since Nugen prohibited funds from his trust being used for building construction, leaving the library board to look elsewhere to accumulate funds for a new facility. In 1969, $40,000 was secured from a federal grant while area farmer Everett Ramey contributed $30,000. The library board hoped $70,000 would cover library costs, but the lowest bid received was for $92,000.
Instead of compromising plans, the library board appealed to the community to raise the remaining $22,000. After a year of fundraising, construction on the new library began in the fall of 1971. The main floor was composed of book stacks, a children’s section, reference section, study cells, and more. The basement featured a large community room.
About 260 Guttenburg schoolchildren cut class on May 18, 1989, to help move more than 15,000 books to the new public library. The new building featured five times the space of the previous location, an 800-square-foot room inside the town’s municipal building. The $250,000 brick building was constructed without federal or state funding; the majority of funds were raised in advance, with an April 1988 bond measure providing the last $65,000 for the building. The library opened the day after the move, with a formal dedication held on July 1, 1989.