From CPL to CCL
The Colby Public Library (CPL) was founded in December of 1879. A donation of $250 was given by visiting railroad officials, along with a beginning collection of 58 books. The first library was housed in the law office of C.F. Grow and was available to Village of Colby residents only.
In 1899, the library was reorganized and recognized by the Common Council of the City of Colby. It was then relocated to the office of Dr. Freeman. Later, it shared space in the Masonic Temple. In 1900, the library received its first appropriations from the city and employed its first paid librarian at a rate of 10 cents per hour.
By 1908, the library was open five hours per week and shared space in a building located on South Second Street where the First United Church of Christ parking lot is today. The building also served as headquarters for the city hall, fire station, and jail. In 1920, library services were extended to the Townships of Colby and Hull.
When a new city hall was erected in 1952 on the corner of Second and West Spence Streets, the library moved into part of that building. Story times and summer reading programs began in the 1960s. In 1971, the library was open 10 hours per week. By 1975, to comply with state regulations, the library was staffed 25 hours weekly.
In 1989, plans began to increase the size of the library. The portion of the city hall that had formerly housed the fire station was made into the new library. Moving into the new quarters in 1991 increased the size of the library from 1200 to 2400 square feet. This renovation was under the direction of Director Carol Wilhelmi. A Friends group was formed to provide assistance in furnishing the new library with a variety of equipment, including computers.
Current Director Vicky Calmes began serving in 2006. Over the years, the CPL had become woefully overcrowded, but there were no funds to expand. The CPL library trustees asked the city to seriously consider expansion plans in 2014.
On December 18, 2015, anonymous donors came forward to offer financial support of a new, freestanding library building.
Over the next two years, a community income survey was conducted and a Community Development Block Grant was successfully written. The City of Colby appropriated funds and a Capital Campaign was designed. Along with the donors’ donation, funding was secured.
Land was obtained from the Colby School District at the site of the former Colby Lower Elementary (District Education Center) at 505 W. Spence Street. Cedar Corporation was hired as the architectural firm and S. D. Ellenbecker was the general contractor for the project.
Exactly two years later, on December 18, 2017, the new Colby Community Library (CCL) opened its doors. The 10,600 square-foot building, decorated in Craftsman-style, offers a look into the past while offering amenities for the future.
The donors, who were announced at the Open House/Dedication in February 2018, are the children of the late Gorton and Pearl Vorland: Mary (Vorland) & Allen Singstock and Jim & Pam Vorland. They named the library “Colby Community Library,” as it will be a gathering place and community hub for the people of the area.
The Pearl Vorland History Room, sponsored in memory of their mother, is a stunning step back in time to the 1920s. It contains many unique features and pieces of Colby history and serves as a tribute to Pearl, who was well-known as Colby’s “Local Historian.”
The library is located on a nearly 5-acre parcel. Outdoor amenities include the Irene Flink Memorial Amphitheater, the Marshfield Medical System Programming Area, and the soon-to-be Friends of the CCL/Denis Woik Memorial Gazebo.
The CCL is currently serving the public 47 hours per week. The collection size has grown to over 28,000 items including books, movies, cds, magazines, and newspapers. As part of the Wisconsin Valley Library Consortium, patrons have access to over 2 million items.
Programming offerings include pre-school story times, adult book clubs and classes, community service projects, volunteer and volunteen opportunities, craft and hobby nights, summer reading program, annual book sale, and open houses throughout the year. Services include Internet computers, printer and copy machines, scanner, microfilm reader, and fax machine. The facility is also available for tutoring, small study groups, social services consults, etc.
Vicky Calmes serves as director of the Colby Community Library. The staff consists of Vlasta K. Blaha, Emily Mueller, Brittani Mertens, Gwenn Kaiser, and Carmella Fredrick. Weekly volunteers are invaluable, also, to the operation of the CCL.
Tours of the beautiful new building are available upon request. The public is invited to visit and enjoy the Colby Community Library, where we are
“Remembering the past—Serving our community—Envisioning the future.”