Dunn Center Public Library Turns the Page

After a decade of lending books and providing Internet access for the community, the Dunn Center Public Library (DCPL) has closed. On April 29, the library board officially donated its building and property to the Dunn County Historical Society & Museum (DCHS&M).

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By Jennifer Strange

For the DC Herald

Lagging volunteer help, health issues among board members and a general lack of use were all cited as reasons for shuttering the library.

“Everyone has their own technology nowadays,” said DCPL Secretary Adeline Thompson.

Library and DCHS&M board members gathered in the museum after transferring keys. They paged through scrapbooks and reminisced about the library’s history, which began in 2003 as nothing more than an idea.

“On November 28th of that year, we started to talk about what we’d like to see in Dunn Center,” said DCPL Treasurer Ruth Granfor. “It was part of the Roosevelt- Custer Regional Council for Development.”

The City of Dunn Center contributed funding toward insurance the following year.

“They pitched in a little every year,” said Thompson. “But mainly we ran the library on volunteer help, donations, grants and our July Fourth fundraisers.”

Services included book lending, reading spaces, public computers, ancestry research and access to state library databases.

“The library was a benefit for everyone—a great asset to the community,” said Granfor. “There was one fellow from Texas who would come in to check his e-mail and write to his family.”

The Texan was usually the lone person in the library. Every month, fewer and fewer folks came through the doors. In late 2014, the board decided they’d close things down by spring of 2015. DCPL Director Linda Bowman started to research how best to distribute the library’s books.

“First, we contacted other libraries to come and get what they wanted,” said Granfor. “Then we used an organization called worldbook.com, which sent us boxes and paid the shipping for books they wanted.”

Remaining inventory was offered to the public during a book giveaway earlier this spring. By the time of the transfer, the library was a book-free zone. A few shelves remained pushed up against the walls and a pencil or two could be seen on the brown carpet.

The building itself has noteworthy history. It was originally located north of Halliday. Norma and Joanne Pederson had the house moved into Dunn Center during the 1980s oil boom. When the Pedersons moved away, they sold the building to Sally Becker, said Granfor. Dunn County residents Rose and Silas Nelson purchased the building from Becker.

“They wanted a library in town, so they donated the house,” said Thompson, who is the Nelson’s niece. “And because it was given to us, we wanted to see it given to another community-oriented organization.”

The building’s new owners are just up the hill from the former library. “It’s an excellent addition to our holdings, especially with the location being so handy,” said DCHS&M Vice President Verna Wolf.

The historical society hopes to make needed plumbing and residential improvements to the house in good time.

“We’re grateful the library considered us,” said DCHS&M Secretary Barb Fridley. “It’s wonderful to acquire additional historic properties.”

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