Public Public Library celebrate its centennial with displays
Foley Public Library staff celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding during a May 3 reception that featured displays from the facility’s history. The city now plans to build a new library to meet the needs of the growing community.
On May 3, 1923, the Community Welfare Club, which later became the Foley Women’s Club, began a project to establish a public library in the 8-year-old town. Each member was asked to contribute a book and to ask others to donate books as well.
By Oct. 1, 1923, the club had collected 500 books and opened the library and 50 people had paid subscriptions of $1 a year. The library opened in a space provided by the Foley Furniture Co., which was owned by the husband of Metta Christensen, a club member. Mrs. Christensen served as the unpaid first librarian.
In May, 1927, Herman Dreis donated a building on the south side of the Foley Park as the site for a new library building. The small house served as the library for 35 years.
In 1957, the Foley Women’s Club asked the town to take over the library. As the library collection and patronage grew, the Town Council decided to expand the library building. A new wing was added to the west and a reception area and circulation room was built in the center of the building. The expanded library was dedicated on Nov. 18, 1962. This building served as the library until the current facility opened in 1984.
Today, the former library building at the intersection of North McKenzie Street and East Laurel Avenue is the Foley Welcome Center building. The reception area was the former circulation room, while the original 1927 building makes up the offices on the east side of the building.
City officials are developing plans to construct a new library building near the Foley Dog Park. The planned building would have about 20,000 square feet of space. Current plans call for the new facility to open around 2025.
“This is just the beginning,” Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich told library staff members during a recent City Council meeting. “It’s more of a community center and a library. So we’re very proud of this library and all the folks that do the hard work.