Jan. 8, 2007

Celebrating 80 years of service

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Thanks to a generous donation from a wealthy Cokato man in 1927, the Village of Cokato has enjoyed the benefits of a community library for 80 years.

The Cokato Public Library will honor the years as well as the support of the community with activities throughout the year, beginning with an open house Tuesday, Jan. 16 from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Centennial Room.

The open house will include refreshments, historical displays, a kid’s craft, and other fun activities.

A short program on the history of the library will be shown at 3:30, and again at 7:30 p.m.

The open house is to recognize the commitment and support the community has shown for the library, according to librarian Mary Ackerman.

Other events throughout the year will include a tea party in March, April Book Sale, and a Go Bananas kickoff with banana splits in June.

When the library first opened in its new location in 1976, there were approximately 6,000 volumes. Now, there are 16,547 items that can be checked out, not including the 825,545 items in the Great River Regional Library system that are also accessible. In 2005, 67,244 items were checked out.

Planning for the current library began in 1974, but officially opened Aug. 17, 1976, with the City of Cokato supplying the building and its furnishings.

Funding for the library is primarily through property taxes, although other financial support has come from grants bequests, and donations.

As part of the Great River Regional Library system, the Cokato Public Library is able to access the online library so members can order books outside of the library.

The City of Cokato has also helped the library succeed, providing the means necessary to meet the needs of the library-using public, according to Ackerman.

“We have functioned as a great team for 30 years, and hope to do so for many more,” she said.

History behind the library

A library was introduced to Cokato in 1927, after Charles Richard (C.R.) Peterson contacted his former colleague at the Cokato State Bank, Henry Clay (H.C.) Bull.

Peterson asked Bull if a donation was possible for a library that would serve Cokato. Bull donated $25,000, and a new library was integrated into the expansion of the Cokato Public School (currently Cokato Elementary), to be used by both students and public.

In 1927, the H.C. Bull Memorial Library opened its doors. The library had two 500-square-foot reading rooms, a children’s reading room with a fireplace, and shelf space to hold 10,000 volumes.

In the 1928 Aurora yearbook, it states, “The H.C. Bull Memorial Library is a beautiful, distinctive, and eminently worthwhile unit of civic and educational center of the community.”

Bull also donated 400 volumes from his personal library, several pieces of furniture, a large safe, an “interesting collection” of mounted fish and birds, moose head, deer head, collection of coins and paper money, and various articles of historical interest in relation to early life in Cokato, according to the Aurora.

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