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A Brief History of Hedberg Public Library

According to documents found in our Local History Database, the public library dates
back to 1865, when a group of Janesville business men formed the Young Men's Association, to furnish entertainment and education. They commenced the acquisition of a library which was circulated among the members at a small cost per year. The library then was located in the Lappin Building, called the post office building, at the end of Milwaukee Street bridge.

In 1874, the Janesville Ladies Temperance Union (LTU) organized a free library and reading room with the help of some YMA members; by January 1875, the LTU Library was opened to the public as one instrument of prohibition that received support and recognition of varying degrees. In 1883 it was moved to the Bennett Block on West Milwaukee Street, and through the efforts of the Women's Clubs of Janesville was made a free library. In January, 1884, the city adopted it as a city library and undertook its support.

Carnegie Library Building Janesville, 1903The library's first permanent home was built in 1902
at 64 S. Main. Key financial support came from the Andrew Carnegie foundation and the estate of F.S. Eldred of Janesville. General contractor J.P. Cullen and Brother of Janesville was paid $35,000 to construct the library, which opened in 1903. This building was remodeled in 1927 and again in 1932.

Janesville Public Library 1960'sThe library outgrew their quarters in the early sixties and a new library was built at 316 S. Main. In April of 1968, the library moved to its new, and current, address. The new building's cost was $939,000. Funding included a $142,000 federal grant and a $780,000 city bond issue. Frelich-Angus Associates and Severson-Schlintz, both of Janesville, were selected as architect and general contractor, respectively.

The new 41,000-square-foot building reached its intended capacity by 1979, but further expansion would wait until 1993, when a $3 million gift from Don and Gerry Hedberg put the topic back on the table. The expansion would eventually cost $8 million, including furnishings and automation. The Hedbergs, former owners of Lab Safety Supply in Janesville, increased their donation to $4.66 million. Other funders were city taxpayers ($1.49 million), the library's capital campaign ($1.1 million), Grainger and Janesville Foundations ($625,000) and the Friends of Janesville Public Library ($25,000).

In May 1994, library operations moved to temporary quarters in a former K-mart store on the city's south side. Major expansion began at 316 S. Main. To save money, the original elevator shaft, the lower level and some structural elements remained intact, but the look was all new. The library reopened on Main Street in June 1996.

With the expansion, the Janesville Public Library was renamed Hedberg Public Library in honor of primary donors Don and Gerry Hedberg.

Architect: Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle, Minneapolis, MN
General Contractor: Miron Construction, Menasha
Present square footage: 63,000


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