The Kirchner-French Memorial Library in Peterson in Clay County was established in 1925 when Lena Kirchner French willed a farm to the town to provide funds for a new library. Lena was a member of the first family to settle in Peterson; she began teaching in the community at the age of 16. Her goal for the library was to ensure residents of all ages could be exposed to the joy of reading and life-long learning.
The library was initially located on Main Street and was operated by members of the local Federated Women’s Club. A permanent library building wasn’t constructed until 1937, when the community received assistance from the federal Works Progress Administration. After 70 years, the building remains an integral part of the community, serving as both the library and the city hall. Since 1937, seven librarians have served at the Kirchner-French Memorial Library.