History of the Somers Public Library
The idea of a library in the small town of Somers, population 200, camr from the senior citizens, namely Harry Twigg. Mrs. George Fowler, a former school teacher, gave Twiggs Cafe 100 books to loan out to people. He thought the "old folks" needed reading material. At the Senior Citizens meeting, the cry was heard for a library.
After Mr. Twigg sold his restaurant to George Lawman, the library idea "simmered on the back burner" until Opal Barnett moved to Somers. She had been the librarian in the small town of Rinard adjacent to Somers and had the "know-how" to choose and catalogue books.
At the Senior Citizens meeting in 1973, they again made a plea for a library. A group os interested people met at the home of Mildred Peterson on Tuesday, July 17, 1973. Present were: LaVonne James, Bill Churchill, Barbara Broyles, Opal Barnett and Mildred Peterson. This meeting actually turned out to be the first meeting of the Somers Public Library Board. Mildred and Opal told how they had attended a town council meeting on July 12th and asked if a library could be started in Somers. As a result of this presentation, a library board was chosen by the council.
Some big questions loomed in the minds of that committee on that hot July night: 1. Was there enough interest in the community to support a library? 2. How should we get the word around? 3. Where would we get the money to buy books and pay a librarian? 4. How do we go about getting accreditation for the County Board of Supervisors? And the Calhoun Libarary Association: 5. Where were the grants that might help us? and 6. In what building would we house the library.
The supervisots approved the application of the Somers Library and so did the town council. Charles Peterson offered his newly renovated, small 12x24 old barber shoppe building as a temporary headquarters.
In January of 1974, Opal Barnett learned that North Iowa Library Extension (NILE) was going to do away with its traveling library, and they had many books that they would give away to any library that would come after them. The secretary immediately wrote to NILE. In the meantime, the community had rallied around the cause and the donations were coming in.
Several cars went to Mason City to pick up books. They came home with 2500. Citizens of the area had donated books so the total count was near 3000. They were all processed with volunteer help under the direction of Opal Barnett.
It was decided to have a grand opening of the library on April 6, 1974. Since the town council had not budgeted a library in their 73-74 fiscal year, it was decided to have volunteer librarians. In 1975, the library was included in the towm budget and the board chose Kathy Richman, in January, 1975 to be librarian. Then in August, Kathy resigned and they hired Joyce Erritt. After Joyce Erritt retired, Linda Welter was hired in December 15, 2001 as librarian.
To be continued.
Information from the Somers Cemtennial Book. July 6, 2002.