Chapter One: The Lions Roar
First in a Series by Mike Whittlesey
In 2015, the public library in La Porte City will celebrate its 70th year of serving the surrounding community. From its humble beginnings, established when World War II was coming to a close, to the growing pains that prompted a move into its current location in the 300 block of Main Street, La Porte City’s Public Library has faithfully served area patrons for nearly seven decades.
Funding for the operation of the library has been supported by local taxpayers since 1946, and falls under local jurisdiction as part of the culture and recreation services provided by the City of La Porte City. Other recreation services provided by the City include Parks, Recreation, the Family Aquatic Center, the Community Center and the FFA Historical & Ag Museum.
LPC Library: Past, Present and Future will examine the role of the public library throughout La Porte City’s history, its function as part of the culture and recreation in today’s LPC, and the challenges it faces to best continue serving the community in the years to come.
How was a public library established in La Porte City? Early in 1945, the creation of a library began when the La Porte City Lions pledged money to pay for initial construction and operational costs. The price tag to accomplish the task at that time was estimated to be around $1,000.
The Proposed public library project began to assume definite form Tuesday night at a meeting of the La Porte City Lions club, when members voted unanimously to endorse the project and to sponsor raising up to a thousand dollars to finance construction and operation costs until tax support becomes available next year. City approval of the project also became almost certain at the meeting, when the three council members present, C. A. Brust, Roy Wagner and C. T. Gates, expressed themselves as approving the projects, as did Mayor Roy F. Hawkins. Actual work on the project cannot get under way until the board of trustees has been organized, as theirs will be the responsibility under law for formation of library plans, policies and budgets. ~The Progress Review, March 15, 1945
In 1945, the concept of a public library in La Porte City was focused primarily on one main commodity- books. With the appointment of a Board of Trustees to oversee the operation of the library, a librarian was hired and a portion of space in the building that is now City Hall became its initial home.
The La Porte City council has passed an ordinance for a new library to be started, which is being sponsored by the Lions club. There will be a meeting of the council Monday night to confirm a board of trustees. A room will be partitioned off in the town hall as a library. The Lions club has pledged $1,000 toward expense of the project. ~Waterloo Courier, April 8, 1945
Mrs. Frances Nies, new city librarian, will begin work Monday, preparing books for the shelves of the free public library in the municipal building. Actual opening of the library for public use will not come for two or three weeks, after the shelves have been filled, and all necessary preliminary records have been completed. Cash and furniture donations are urgently needed, as the library must operate until next April 1  without tax support. An order will be placed immediately with the state traveling library for a loan of approximately 300 books, which will fill about a quarter of the present shelf space in the library. This collection will be changed every few months to bring a new selection of books to the community. ~The Progress Review, August 9, 1945