History of the Library

History the Verona Public Library

Under the leadership of Mrs. Alice Kunstam, the first library in Verona was started in 1947 in one room in the old bank building on the corner of Verona Ave. and Main Street. It was rented for $15.00 a month which included heat and utilities. The American Legion Auxiliary paid the rent. The interior work for the room was done by high school students and the Boys Scouts. The room was shared with an attorney and accordion lessons were given there. In 1959 the Village of Verona assumed full control of the library and it joined the Dane County Library system. At that time there were 2,500 registered library cards.

In 1966 Shirley Guttnecht was hired as the first official librarian. The library was open Monday and Wednesday 7p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 3p.m.-5p.m. and 7p.m.-9 p.m, Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 am. A telephone was installed and fines were 2 cents a day. Rent increased to $90 a week. The Budget was set at $5,000 a year.

After years of discussion, a new library was constructed in 1969 on East Harriet Street. Kaltenberg Builders did the construction. The 3,500 sq. ft. library was constructed for $52,500. At that time there were 12,000 adult books and 4,000 children’s books in the library.

During the years of 1971-1987, Virginia Pitts and Doreen Stewart provided activities for the senior citizens in the area during library hours.

A marker plate and time capsule was placed in front of the library in 1976 in celebration of Verona’s quasquicentennial. The capsule is due to be opened in 2030.

In 1980 Tricia Wiggins was elected as the first president of the newly formed Friends of the Verona Public Library. Leo and Kay Dunn, Jane Pearcy and the library staff were among the other organizers. In 1982 the Friends gave the library $1,000 for purchase of books and started a savings account for future use.

The library staff and library board came to the conclusion in that the library was too small for the needs of the patrons and in 1985 plans for a library expansion began. In 1986 a Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) grant was awarded to the library for $125,000. The Friends of the library published the Wish book, held a telethon, and raised money to furnish the expansion. In 1988 the library addition was finished at a cost of $529,521. The addition gave the library a new address of 130 N. Franklin St. since its new entrance faced Franklin St. In 1988 the circulation was 74,038.

The first librarian for the children’s program, Janice Gessler was hired in 1989. In that same year The South Central Library System recognized the Verona Public Library as the Library of the Year.

In 1990 and 1991 the library hosted “The Night of 100 Stars”. Local dignitaries read books through-out the day for children. In 1990 Jacqui Rockweiler, the president of the Library Board, was named Dane County Trustee of the year.

In 1995 the staff of the library included a director, 2 full time librarians, 5 part time staff members and two high school library pages.

In spring of 2004, the land from Badger Prairie Park that would become the site of the new library was obtained. After Verona voters approved the new library building project in December of 2004, groundbreaking for the new library began on June 20, 2005.

The new library, located at 500 Silent Street, began its mission of serving the Verona community in May of 2006.

The growth into the new building has brought with it growth in library usage. Circulation has increased from 271,383 items in 2005 to 577,206 in 2009, and library visits have increased from 164,695 in 2005 to 221,399 in 2009.