Library History

Read how this library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.

Kirchner-French Memorial Library was established in 1925 when Lena Kirchner French willed a farm to the town of Peterson for the erection, contents and maintenance of a library. Lena was a member of the first family of settlers in Peterson and taught school  here at age 16.  Lena’s goal was to establish a library in Peterson so that persons of all ages could be exposed to the joy of reading and to life long learning. Because of the depression, the actual building was not built until 1937 with WPA assistance. In the intervening years members of the local Federated Women’s Club, the Tuesday Club, operated a temporary library in the brick building on the northeast corner of Main Street.

The first meeting of the Library Board of Trustees was held Feb. 15, 1938. The current Board consists of President Jon A. Bang, Colleen Ankerstjerne, Mona Beck, Mary Perrill, Carolyn Roberts and Birney Terrell.

Over the years, the Trustees chose to join the Clay County Library Association, to meet the State Library of Iowa Standards and to request county and state funding. They did this to assist in maintaining the library and its contents and to increase access to information. With the addition of these funds the library has been able to increase the formats available to the public for reading, education and entertainment. In addition to books, the library now offers books on tape and CD, large print books, periodicals, VHS and DVD videos, public computer/software, access to the internet and the Peterson Patriot on microfilm. Through cooperation with Northwest Iowa Library Services and the State Library of Iowa the library is also able to offer Open Access and Access Plus. These programs allow Kirchner-French Memorial Library cardholders to borrow books and materials directly from other libraries in Iowa and to interlibrary loan books and materials from other libraries in Iowa and around the nation. These commitments by the Board of Trustees have expanded the limits of the library enormously.