Early History Timeline

  • 1857

    Winona Lyceum

    G. Tanner elected as librarian of the Winona Lyceum.

  • 1858

    Library Collection Established

    Dr. I. R. Cone, librarian, reports collection of 47 volumes.


  • 1863

    Young Men’s Library Club

    Officers elected for the Young Men’s Library Club. Sheldon P. Carey named first president.

  • 1867

    Collection Grows

    Book collection reported at nearly 1000 volumes.


  • 1875

    Young Men’s Library Club Closed

    Library closed due to debt issues.

  • 1877

    Library Reopens as Winona Library Association

    Mrs. J. B. McGaughey, Mrs. Thomas Wilson, and Miss Charlotte Prentiss lifted the debt and reorganized the library under a new name, the Winona Library Association.


  • 1882

    Librarian Hired

    Miss Jeanette A. Clark is named librarian. She will serve as librarian for over a half-century until the year 1936.

  • 1886

    Winona’s First Free Library Formed

    Winona Library Association turns over 3500 books to the city for use for all residents to form Winona’s first free public library located on the corner of 4th and Lafayette streets.


  • 1899

    Current Library Opens

    William H. Laird’s $50,000 donation builds the present-day Winona Public Library on 5th and Johnson St. and opens to the public on January 21st. The Winona Library Association donates $7000-$8000 toward furnishings.

    Frederic Somers Bell elected first president of the Library Board.

    Statue of Hebe donated to the library by Mrs. William H. Laird on July 8th. The statue is a copy in Carrara marble of the original work by Antonio Canova.

  • 1910

    Kenyon Cox’s "Light of Learning" Mural Donated

    Kenyon Cox mural, The Light of Learning, donated to the library by William H. Hayes in memory of his wife and former library employee, Charlotte Prentiss Hayes.


  • 1913

    Library Book Stacks Expanded

    Library collection grows to 32,000 volumes. Additional stack space is constructed with a generous donation of $10,000 from the Laird family, providing space to hold up to 60,000 volumes.

  • 1921

    Children’s Room Opens

    First Children’s Room opens on ground floor with a separate entrance on Johnson Street. This space was previously the library’s Lecture Room. Miss Mary A. Holmes is named the first children’s librarian and in charge of their 5000 books.


  • 1936

    New Librarian Takes Over

    Miss Ethel Binney succeeds Miss Jeanette Clark as librarian. She will serve until 1944.

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