The Friends of Winona Public Library announces the release of Laird’s Legacy: A History of the Winona Public Library by Greg Gaut. The book is now for sale for $23 at the Winona Public Library’s Checkout Desk. Credit cards, cash and checks are accepted.
This library history project began in 2014, when Chad Ubl, Winona’s Community Service Director, discovered a trove of historic material in Winona Public Library’s vault. It convinced him that the library’s history should be told. What started as discovery, turned into a collaborative project between the library, the Friends of the Winona Public Library, and Greg Gaut, a historian specializing in historic preservation.
In 1897, two years before the first Carnegie library in Minnesota, Winona lumberman William Harris Laird donated the public library building to Winona with the stipulation that the city maintain it as a public institution. His gift is an impressive Neo-classical building sheathed in white limestone and capped by a central dome. It is the oldest library building still in use in Minnesota. The book tells the story of Winona’s public library from its origins in 1886 to the present time, focusing on the legacy of Laird’s philanthropy.
The Friends of Winona Public Library is a 501c3 nonprofit that maintains an interested membership, focuses attention on the library, stimulates the use of library resources, receives gifts and endowments to the library, and cooperates with the library in developing services and facilities for the community. Book sale proceeds will serve as a perpetual fundraiser for the Friends.
Grant monies that made this book possible came from the Winona Foundation, Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the people of Minnesota for Library Legacy activities.