As a member of the Winnefox Library System, the Coloma Public Library is situated near the center of the Village of Coloma in the Anna Follett Memorial Center. Serving a diverse population of approximately 2,500 people spanning the three counties of Waushara, Adams and Marquette. Offfering a wide variety of materials, services and programs to meet the ever growing needs of our communities.
Stop in and see us soon!
History of the Coloma Public Library
The first Coloma Library was established around 1937 by the Federation of Womens' Club. Three of the women active in this organization were Anna Follett, Edna Shorey and Helen Leach.
Initially, books were housed in a bedroom at the home of Edna Shorey, according to Annabelle Baker, one of the early library enthusiasts. Coloma residents devoted to the library's cause would drive to Madison, select various books and bring them back to the village. When it was time for the books to be returned, they were packaged in boxes and shipped back to Madison.
From 1958-1960, the Coloma Free Library moved from private homes to the Coloma Village Hall and Fire Station building, which today is the NAPA store. Mrs. Runnels and Mrs. Wallendahl oversaw the library and its books, which were kept locked in glass door cabinets.
Interest in the library diminished and in 1960 was closed down. The Hancock Public Library was invited to pick what books it could use. Kenyon Follett stored the remaining books. For over 30 years, several boxes of books were also kept in the old Immanuel Lutheran Church building next to the NAPA store.
For 26 years Coloma did not have a library (1960-1986). During that time, the former Leikness-Hamilton Funeral Home and Parlor was turned over to the Village of Coloma to be used for a community center. Barb Brown was instrumental in the opening of the Coloma Community and Youth Center. She was also an advocate for the return of the library to Coloma. Barb and grade school librarian, Karen Neal, requested the assistance of the Waushara-Green Lake Cooperative Library and Winnefox Library System in developing Coloma as a Winnefox Out-Reach Library.
On May 1, 1986, the Coloma Community and Youth Center opened. Shortly after, one of the three rooms in the center was arranged with books on loan from the Winnefox Library System. The Coloma Library offered about 250 books to its community patrons.
Over the next year. Barb Brown drove to Hancock each month to pick up 25 to 30 books obtained on rotation from Winnefox. Volunteers were scarce so books could only be checked out when there were planned activities at the community center.
A need for a more structured schedule lead volunteer Laura Mae Blackmore in September 1988 to accept the task of establishing regular hours with the help of Beatrice Kitchen.
Director - Laura Mae (Leach) Blackmore was born and raised in Coloma. She married Arden Blackmore and lived in Orlando, Florida for 25 years. In November 1986, Laura Mae and Arden moved back to Coloma so she could care for her mother. When Laura Mae heard of the need for library volunteers she was eager to help.
Assistant Librarian - Beatrice Kitchen lived in the Coloma area all her life and married Vernon Kitchen in 1946. As interest in a Coloma Library resurfaced, the books stored at the Follett's were brought out and given to the library volunteers. Kenyon Follett told Laura Mae " I didn't have the heart to throw them out." The books were checked over and cleaned up.
On May 31, 1990, the Coloma Village Board voted the library to be renamed the Coloma Community Library.
On June 16, 1990, the Library Board requested a feasibility study from the Wisconsin Department of Publication regarding the need for a public library in the Village of Coloma.
In September 1990, the Coloma Public Library was officially established with the appointment of a Coloma Library Board.
On January 1, 1991, the Coloma Public Library became a member of the Winnefox Library System.
Since 1990, the Coloma Public Library was active in the community. On Thursday mornings it sponsored a pre-school story hour. The library also took part in the state summer reading program.
Every other week, Laura Mae took an assortment tray of 12 books to the Kingston Court Apartments in Coloma for its residents to enjoy. The senior citizens really looked forward to her visits. The Coloma Homemakers supported the library effort. Volunteers helped catalog books several Tuesdays of each month. Local artists' works were displayed in the library. With all this growth, the library was open to the public 30 hours each week.
The Friends of the Library, organized by Laura Mae, has been an important source of revenue to the Library. Due to their fundraisers, the library has been able to purchase computers, fax machines, typewriters, etc.
Other endowments include the Winnefox Enrichment Fund which enabled the library to purchase a copier machine in 1992, as well as several Federal Grants.
We have also received various donations from our local Coloma Lions Club, the Lutheran Brotherhood, Green Giant, Coloma/Hancock Legion Post, Consolidated Papers, Inc., the Kenyon Follett Family and other gifts and memorials.
In September 1998, Laura Mae retired and then Sandy Zuehlke became the new director of the Coloma Public Library. After a long bout with illness Laura Mae passed away on October 10TH. She will be missed by the library and the community alike.
On October 21, 1998, the library joined WALS (Winnefox Automated Library System).
In 1999 we added Leisure Living to our monthly rotation of books. Our Friends Group was contacted and we served refreshments as a fundraiser during the Coloma Players Productions. On June 10TH we received the Healthy Communities – Healthy Youth Award. The Libri Foundation Grant afforded our Library 60 new award winning books for our collection.
In 2000, we had our first Care for Critters Presentation from the Milwaukee County Zoo. In November we added our local daycare centers in our monthly rotation of books.
In February of 2001, we were able to add 50 Classic Volumes to our collection through the Carnie Corporation Grant. We began our after-school tutoring program possible through a grant with our 2001-2002 school year.
In the winter of 2002-3 we were able to receive several computers and a laser printer through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In January of 2003 we were able to purchase new video shelves for the Library. In September, we lost one our library board members – Merle Hilgert.
2004 – In February we ran a program where patrons counted Valentines on a sheet for prizes.
We were trained on the Sirsi system. Volunteers now mainly handle our Story Hours. We also have several Volunteers that work in the Library.
In February we ran the Bucks Reading Challenge. In March we “hooked up” with our new automated system. What a whirlwind. In May we had our Culvers reading challenge.
On May 27TH, we had a puppet show presented by the Brent Taylor Family.
In June, we held our annual volunteer dinner honoring our volunteers, board members and tutors. This year our tutoring program involved 13 tutors and 20 students. We made available one of our computers for SeniorNet – Generations On Line. We also participated in the Chicken Chew Parade.
In July we lost another Library board member – Wilbur (Willie) Hitchcock. In August/September we ran a reading promotion entitled “Keep Cool-Read”. Ice cream cones were filled with ice cream scoops for each book read. Our Summer Reading Program began on June 17TH and ended on August 5TH. We had a surprise for one of our patrons. The 20,000th item checked out received several prizes all going to Vicky Deery.
On November 11TH, we held our annual Chili Supper. On that night we also made Christmas ornaments for our State Christmas Tree in Madison. In November, we also ran a Thanksreading promotion. We had a tree on our Bulletin Board and leaves were added for each book that was read.