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 it’s 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 it’s 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 led 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. Many of the books we sold but some are still available at the library.
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.
On July 1, 1990, the Coloma Public Library was established by the Village Board: Loren Thurber, President, and Trustees Faye Schliepp, Arden Bandt, LuAnn Hackbart, and Ray Rodriquez. In September 1990, the 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 has been active in the community. Laura Mae took an assortment tray of 12 books to the Kingston Court Apartments in Coloma for it’s residents to enjoy. The Coloma Homemakers supported the library effort by volunteering help catalog books several Tuesdays of each month. Works by local artist works have been 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 needed equipment and supplies.
Other endowments include the Winnefox Enrichment Fund which enabled the library to purchase a copy 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.