Book Lovers Reside in Boulder Junction!
The first Boulder Junction library was started by Ada Williams. It consisted of several shelves of books kept in a little storeroom in the basement in the old town hall. Theda Foster served as librarian and would open the library two or three afternoons a week. Check-out at the library was on the honor system, and no one exactly recalls where the books came from, although some may have been a project of the National Recovery Act during the Depression years and some could have been donated from family libraries.
When the town hall basement library closed, Klassen's grocery store served as a voluntary lending library. "You bring one, you can take one." There was the complete collection of Zane Grey's books, all the published issues of the National Geographic magazine and many donations from both residents and summer visitors.
Since 1963, the residents of Boulder Junction were also served by the Northwest Wisconsin Library System Bookmobile. On days when the bookmobile came to town, many people came to check out the resources found in the trailer-long vehicle, staffed by two very congenial and helpful men. There were books for all ages and interlibrary loan slips if someone wanted a book unavailable on the bookmobile.
The threat of discontinuation of the bookmobile inspired the formation of the Boulder Junction Library committee in the fall of 1977. That November, the Boulder Junction Town Board voted to establish a town library under the supervision of the library committee. The library committee set to work within the week, defining its functions and the laying the groundwork for quality service to the town and its seasonal visitors. Judy Hewitt was appointed the librarian. The town board approved the use of the small, former grade school office in the Community building for the library and they agreed to pay for the heat and lights.
The library committee discussed at length the need for town funds to support the library. They needed money for library services like books for the blind, requests from larger libraries and postage for letters acknowledging donations. With lofty goals, the library committee decided to ask for $120 from the 1978 town budget. That would be $10 a month!
Hats off to the special vision shared by the residents who served on that library committee! They included Irene Gravelle, Blanche Haag, Judy Hewitt, Skeeter Jolin, Barbara Krutak, Shirley Marsh, Ray Ondracek, Chuck Schaeffer, Joe Voborsky, Paula Voborsky and Betty Walters.
Between November 1977 and April 1978, the number of books donated and incorporated into the library totaled 2,004 volumes. The bulk of this collection came from books donated by the K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Marquette, Michigan when it closed in 1978. Later, when Region 7 Canoe Base of the Boys Scouts on White Sand Lake closed, they donated materials as well. Some of the materials had been housed by Reuben and Evelyn Schauss from the old town hall basement library.
Establishing a library in Boulder Junction, free to both residents and visitors, required a lot of work on the part of many people. Donations cans were placed in all the local businesses. Without the generous donation of time and effort on the part of Judy Hewitt, the first librarian, and many other people, including Fred Meinshausen, the Town Chairman, the library would not have gotten off the ground in the first month.
Serving on the first five-member Library Board of Trustees, which replaced the eleven-member library committee, were Otto Albertus, Linda Bein, Irene Gravelle, Philip North and Chuck Schaeffer. The library became a legally organized public library, joining the Northern Waters Library System, headquartered in Ashland, Wisconsin.
Growth for the new library was slow and steady. By February of 1989, plans for an addition and alterations to the Community Center Building were underway. Space was needed to accommodate the needs of the town. The renovation got underway and the library staff and volunteers temporarily moved over to the old Boulder Junction Grade School building located across the street from St. Anne's Catholic Church. With much volunteer help, the library moved back into their expanded quarters in the Community Center Building in 1990.
In 1999, library staff and volunteers bar coded the collection and automation was implemented, allowing patrons to log onto a computer - either at the library or at home - and access the collection and learn whether an item was available.
The biggest change for the library thus far, has been the new building. In 2014, the new Community Center & Library was officially opened and became our new home. The building project was a labor of love involving our entire community. Members of the Building Committee and Fundraising Committee gave hundreds of hours of their time over a span of almost 5 years. The Fundraising Committee raised over $400,000 to offset the $1.7 million price tag of the building project. The Friends of the Library donated a little over $100,000 to the new library for furnishings and equipment. Our entire community - residents and visitors alike - can be proud of our efforts and our beautiful new home!