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Glenwood City Public Library a “happening” place – Library celebrates 115th anniversary

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY  —  Julian Bender, president of the Glenwood City Friends of the Library, likes to say, “It’s happening at the library!”

This summer what’s happening at the library is the 115th anniversary celebration that includes a variety of events, such as Storytime, Creative Kids, movies and theme baskets.

“Now that I think about it, what’s really happening, on a daily basis, is our library is your local ‘pusher’ or ‘dealer’ of literacy. This is what I value in our library — the promotion of community literacy,” Bender said.

Barbara Standaert, secretary of the Glenwood City Public Library Board and the Glenwood City school liaison, agrees that the library is an essential part of the community.

“I think the library continues to be a vital part of a community in that it offers several services to the community and surrounding areas as well as special programming. People often think of a library as just housing books, but it has so much more!” she said.

“There are magazines, newspapers, music CD’s, copying and scanning services. One can access the Internet if it is not available in one’s home. People have gone to the local library to download tax forms, work on their resumes, download free music, listen to story time, watch movies, and attend special events such as tech time help with Barb Krueger,” Standaert said.

Newspaper office

The library does, in fact, offer many more books and services and programs than it did when it began in 1900.

As unusual as it may seem today, the Glenwood City Public Library actually started out in the newspaper office in 1900.

Circulation at the very first Glenwood City Public Library began with 200 to 300 books.

Carlton DeWitt, owner, publisher and editor of the Tribune Press Reporter found the following article in the September 28, 1900, edition of the Tribune.

Headline: Library Will Open

Subhead: Commencing Monday, Librarian Cushing will be on Duty at The Tribune Office

“The Glenwood City Free Public Library has finally emerged from the shadowy realm of things prospective and become a robust and — we trust — enduring entity. After collecting the 200 or 300 volumes and building a commodious bookcase, librarian A.J. Cushing found no place available as a home for the library. The Tribune finally came to his rescue, and so it is that the institution finds itself, not exactly in league with the ‘devil,’ but pretty close to him. Commencing next week, the library will be open every Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. For the giving out of books, on proper application, to residents of the city of Glenwood. In the 200 or 300 volumes embraced within the library many of the best things in literature will be found.”

More books

Today, the library’s print materials are nearly 30 times more than when the library started in 1900.

According to Shaleen Culbert, director of the Glenwood City Public Library, the library has approximately 9,400 books.

“Technology has created different avenues for entertainment, literacy-enhancement and pursuing continuing education, but the public library is still the place that citizens can count on to find the resources they need, whether they long to learn, love to read, or need a place to sit and think. Libraries welcome everyone who walks through the door and are often the only place that patrons can access the Internet and get assistance in learning how to use the Internet successfully,” Culbert said.

According to information available on the Wisconsin Public Library Database, which contains information from 2010 that was distributed in 2012, the Glenwood City library has about 15,000 visits annually with a circulation of about 35,000.


In addition to the books and other in-house materials, the Glenwood City Library is a member of the My Online Resource (MORE) system, and materials can be ordered from any library within the system.

“I often check out books through the MORE system, and if the Glenwood library doesn’t have the book, the online service shows me what other libraries have it. When the book gets trucked to the local library, I get a call telling me it is in … so easy and a great way to keep reading my favorite authors as well as to find new releases,” Standaert said.

“I also check out DVD’s quite often when there is nothing I want to see at the theaters. One can also sign up to get e-mail notices to get reminders when items are due. I have always found Shaleen, Stephanie and Gladys to be very helpful and knowledgable,” she said.

“An average day in the life of this library can involve any or all of the following: helping a child find the next book in his favorite series; helping a student find the right resource for a homework assignment; a tutor sitting at one of our tables helping a student work toward his GED; assisting a job hunter with resume development; teaching that job hunter how to attach that resume to an email and send it to an employer; helping someone learn how to download e-books from the digital library to their new device, or patrons using the library’s WI-FI to work on projects on their laptops or tablets,” Culbert said.

The MORE system provides access to thousands of items through an online catalog and delivery system. The web address is, she noted.

Still needed

Now that our society has Internet access and iPads, laptop computers and Smart phones, surely we no longer really need public libraries.

Standaert and Culbert wholeheartedly beg to differ.

“I have heard a few people say that we don’t need a small town library anymore with all the technology we have access to now. Well, some people don’t have all that technology,” Standaert said.

“I believe we should be supporting and expanding our library as technological needs grow and change. It should be a strong aspect of our community to show children just how important we think reading is for learning and for enjoyment — just as we show how much we support our local schools, sports, and parks for learning and recreation,” she said.

As for digital materials, while many books are available as e-books, many more books are not available as e-books.

“Libraries try to provide as much access as their budgets will allow. We do not have any control over what items publishers choose to produce in digital formats, and there are many groups that are trying to make previously published materials available to the public, and publishers are probably trying to work through their backlists but there may also be copyright constraints,” Culbert said.

“There are also a number of books that are published as e-books only, and some of those are available to libraries and some are not, and it is hard to say what the breakdown might be,” she said.

“Historical documents that are controlled by historical societies may or may not be digitized, and there may also be copyright constraints restricting the process. So, you would be correct to assume that there are many items that are only available in libraries or archives as monographs that are not available via the Internet, and there are also items available via the Internet that are not available in print form,” Culbert said.

“I don’t have statistics on the numbers of books that are published in both the traditional and digital formats, but my feeling is that the more recent the item is to publication, the greater the chance that it may also be available in a digital format at some point … predictably, a lot of the data about e-books versus physical books has to do with sales,” she said.

“Libraries are an essential to communities because everyone is welcome and treated equally without question. Public libraries provide critical learning and information resources for individuals and broaden opportunities for people of all ages through access to collections and technology and by providing assistance from information professionals,” Culbert said.

“Glenwood City’s Public Library will continue to evolve to meet the needs of our community, mindful of the legacy of A. J. Cushing, a true library pioneer,” she said.


The Glenwood City Public Library, located at 127 Pine Street, has been housed in the former Swedish Congregational Church since 1993.

According to the Glenwood City Public Library’s website, the building is believed to have been constructed around 1907. The inside of the building has been renovated, and the steeple was removed because of serious deterioration. Inside the building, you can still see the original architectural style of the church.

In 1900, the newspaper office/library was on Oak Street between 2nd and 3rd Street.

In 1919, the library was located next to the opera house on Oak Street, in the present location of NextGen.

In the 1950s, the library was located in the Odd Fellows Hall on Second Street, in the location of the present-day West CAP building.

In 1965, the library was located with City Hall in the former Trinity Lutheran Church.


The Glenwood City Public Library has a number of activities planned for this summer.

For the theme basket contest and silent auction, participants can bring their baskets to the library until July 20.

The theme should be based on a favorite book or movie, and the theme baskets will be sold by silent auction during the month of July.

Half of the silent auction proceeds will go to the winner of the contest, and half will go to the library.

The Glenwood City Public Library Board of Trustees will judge the baskets July 27. A cash prize will be awarded for the best or most creative basket.

The basket – and basket means any clean container – must contain a new or used book and should contain items related to the book or movie theme.

According to the Glenwood City Public Library’s website regarding the theme baskets, “imagination and creativity will be given high marks.”

The Glenwood City Library board consists of four individuals. Janet Scepurek is the board president and serves along with Bruce Drinkman, Mary Pat Weeks, and Barb Standaert. The Friends of the Glenwood City Library, in addition to Julian Bender as the president, includes Roger Lindelof, Barb Nelson and Paula Brandt.

Children’s programs

The Glenwood City Public Library also will be celebrating its 115th anniversary with a variety of children’s programs this summer.

Storytime, with the theme of “every hero has a story,” and Creative Kids will run for six Thursdays that began June 25.

Storytime is geared for three to six year olds and begins at 9:30 a.m. Older or younger siblings also are welcome.

Creative Kids is a program that also runs for six Thursdays beginning June 25 and includes stories, crafts, and games geared for youngsters from kindergarten through fifth grade. Creative Kids starts at 10:45 a.m.

And then there are the movies that will be shown this summer.

The Glenwood City Public Library will be showing movies every Tuesday at 2 p.m. starting June 30 and ending July 21.

Popcorn will be served too.

The Glenwood City Public Library is open on Mondays from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, visit the Glenwood City Public Library’s website at or call 715-265-7443.