The History of the Jesup Public Library

Business name is: Jesup Public Library and business address is: 721 6th St., PO Box 585, Jesup, IA 50648.

Date established: 1915 by the Even Dozen Study Club

The first library was organized by the Even Dozen Study Club in 1915.  Since then there has been five paid library directors, Mrs. A. C. Knowles, Darlene Reinhardt, Deb Rueber, Cindy Lellig and the present director Becky Burke.  Ms. Burke was hired in June of 2017.  Libraries had changed a great deal since 1915.  Besides checking out books and other items, the library also sponsors guest speakers, authors, story tellers, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and cooking demonstrations, etc.  It was after a quilt show in January 1990, for nearly 50 people, that the floor was discovered to be unsafe. 

The decision was made that Jesup needed a new library. The library board chose an architect, Tom Gardner of Gardner Architecture to work with.  They set up the needed committees and everyone got down to work. The official kick-off fundraiser was held November 10, 1990 at the Country Club.  A dinner and auction with items donated by local businesses and art by local artists was held.  This was the start of many fundraisers.  There were raffles, wine and cheese receptions, concession stands, style shows, dances, auctions, and door to door and letter writing campaigns.  The city of Jesup showed again what a great community it is when it comes together.  By October of 1991, the board had received pledges of $210,000 when it turned in an application for an LSCA grant, a federal grant to be administered by the State of Iowa. In late December of 1991, the library board learned they had been awarded a LSCA grant of $175,000, although they had only asked for 100,000. 

Ground was broken during Farmers Day, July 1992, with actual construction beginning in September.  The new library opened in May 1993.  The old library had 1600 square feet and the new library had 6100 square feet. The first computer had been donated by the Ed Thompson family in the mid-1980’s.  When the library moved into the new facility there was room for more computers.  Farmers State Bank was getting new computers, so they donated 4 computers to the library.

Since then, the board buys computers on a rotating schedule as technology is changing so fast. Now the library has seven public access computers, a checkout computer, the director’s computer, a laptop computer used mostly with the multi-media projector, and a server.  Other equipment is a microfilm reader/printer, a copy machine, and an all-in-one printer, copy, fax machine.  The library has approximately 17,000 items including five newspapers for patron’s enjoyment. We now check out books, magazines, periodicals, books on cassette, books on CD, videos, music CD’s, DVD’s, and soon will have down-loadable books. The library has access to several databases that provide full length articles or finds books in almost any library in Iowa.

When the library was built a small community room was included.  It will seat 35 people comfortably.  The library board decided not to charge a deposit, but to include a clean-up fee if the room is left in a mess.  At the time there was not a handicapped assessable room in the city.  It has been well used by such groups as women's clubs, 4-H clubs, Boy Scout dens, Girl Scout troops, and the Farmer’s Co-op has used it as a Board Room in the past.  It is also quite often used for baby showers and bridal showers.  The library uses it for adult and children's programming, classes and monthly meetings.  The city has used it for safety meetings, CPR, First Aid Classes, and as city council chambers while the new city hall was being built.  For many years it was used for the annual Domestic Arts Show during Farmers Day and as a polling place for the city of Jesup.

The library has a staff of four, a full-time director and three part-time assistants.   The library is open an average of 48 hours a week. 

The state of Iowa started an accreditation process in 1994 and Jesup has been very proud to be accredited at the top level of three possible levels every three years. In fact, the first time, Jesup was one of only 81 libraries who reached the top level out of 580 libraries in Iowa. There are twenty-nine required measures that must be met and forty-three of fifty-nine additional measures that must be met. The accreditation covers Governance, Administration, Funding, Staffing, Collection, Public Relations, Access and Facilities. This accreditation report is now quite important as the library receives state funds based on what level of accreditation the library has achieved.

The Jesup Public Library is the hub of the community.  Stop in shortly after opening some morning and several of the computers may be filled with adults.  Some will be looking for jobs.  Some will be doing research for a club lesson or maybe an illness. Some will just be having a cup of coffee.  Stop in the afternoon and you will see people reading the newspapers from Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Independence, or the Citizen Herald. You may see people putting together a jigsaw puzzle or a club or some other group meeting in the community room.  Stop by after school and there will be many students in the library.  Some will be studying, doing homework or playing games on the computer or putting the jigsaw puzzle together. At any time during the day you would find people looking for books to read for pleasure, to learn from, to use in their classroom, or that Oprah or some other show has talked about.  If we don’t have the book, we can always interlibrary loan the book from another library for the patron.  The staff always tries to provide prompt and courteous service.  The Jesup Public Library continues to change, grow, and add new technology with the time.  It is a very important part of the Jesup Community.     

Interested in more history?  Check out the Iowa Historical Society.