A Brief History of the Sturm Memorial Library

According to the centennial publication, Manawa 1874-1974, the library in Manawa was started by a gentleman by the name of Roger C. Bigford in 1910. The library was housed in the Odd Fellows Hall and the books in its collection were donated by Mr. Bigford and others. Not long after that, the library was put under the direction of the Manawa Woman’s Study Club whose members organized, cataloged, arranged and circulated the collection for several years. 

In 1923, the library had its first paid librarian at the annual salary of $100.00 per year. This was also the first year that the municipality provided support for the library. For many years the Woman’s Club gave teas, had card parties and cookie sales to raise funds for the library.

In 1947, the library moved to the second floor of what was then City Hall where it remained until 1966. In 1966, A. Sturm & Sons presented the city with a building they had purchased and renovated which was to be used for a new library. At that time the city council officially named the library the Sturm Public Library. From 1966 to 1993, the library maintained steady growth in number of items in the collection, number of items circulated and number of registered borrowers. Also increasing was the amount of tax dollars used to operate the library. 

In 1993 A. Sturm & Sons again came through for the library by donating $400,000 to the city for the purpose of building a new library facility. The building would be a lasting memorial to Carl, Clarence, Arthur and Paul Sturm, the four brothers who started A. Sturm & Sons earlier in the century. The city committed to operating the new facility and the library board committed to finding additional funding for the project. On June 1, 1994, the new library opened its doors to the community. It has been busy ever since.

While early in this century it was common for libraries to be funded and operated by volunteer organizations, this is no longer the case today. The library is the recipient of several generous donations each year, but the majority of funding comes from local and county tax dollars. This support is an achievement for which the community can be proud. Today, the Sturm Memorial Library is a model small library in the state of Wisconsin. Staff continue to offer quality service to patrons and the advent of technology has allowed the library to expand beyond the borders of the building. Serving the people of Manawa and surrounding countryside is the number one priority of the library and will continue to be so for many years to come.