History of the Fond du Lac Public Library
The Fond du Lac Public Library has been a true community library from the start. Its roots can be traced as far back as the 1850 when it was first discussed by the Young Men’s Association. The City Council officially organized the library in November 1876. Members of the Fond du Lac Women’s Club obtained a gift from Andrew Carnegie to open the first permanent library building in 1904. In 1966, the League of Women voters and a cadre of individuals from the community were credited for making the “new” library possible. Nearly 30 years later, an active Library Board advocated for an addition and renovation starting in 1994, and today’s main library became a reality when it opened in 2004 thanks to a long list of corporate donors, individuals and support from the City Council.
The community was responsible for creating and supporting the library throughout its long history. At the same time, the library has been dedicated to community involvement and promoting reading and education throughout Fond du Lac County. The library provided bookmobile service to city and county residents from the 1960s until September 2010. The early 21st Century found the library responding to the community in new ways. A community art gallery was added in the 2004 expansion. Library staff became intricately involved in a variety of community organizations, such as the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, the United Way and the Downtown Arts District. In 2006, FDLPL was named Wisconsin Library of the Year. In 2009, the library added the Opportunity Center – a staffed computer lab and resource center for people looking for work.
FDLPL has long been a leader in introducing new technologies to the public. Video recordings – both tapes and discs – were introduced in the 1980s. Public computers became popular starting in the 1990s. These were followed by such improvements as online databases, electronic books and radio frequency identification technology for handling the 860,000-plus items circulated each year. The library will begin lending e-readers in summer 2011.
The Fond du Lac Public Library was created out of community need and has maintained a leadership role in the community by responding to the area’s changing needs.