MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) – Throughout 2021, special events and programs will highlight the Elisha D. Smith Menasha Public Library’s history, as well as its future, in honor of its 125th anniversary.

According to a release, the library will host its premiere anniversary event—a virtual concert, Music Notes for 125 Years of Service—live streaming it on Facebook on Jan. 14, at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate the signing of the charter for the Menasha Free Library 125 years ago.

Performers will include local favorites like Randy Peterson, Still Blue (Christopher Evanson), Elvis John, and several more.

“The Menasha Library has been a valuable asset to the community for 125 years, providing patrons with free access to traditional and digital information. The Library also provides learning programs and entertainment for patrons of all ages,” says Bob Golz, Chairman of the Library Board.

The Menasha Library’s founding and early timeline:

  • January 14, 1896 – The Wisconsin Department of State granted the new Menasha Public Library Association the powers and privileges to institute a public library.
  • April 18, 1896 – The Menasha Library Association Board of Directors held its first meeting, pledging greater access to knowledge and learning for local residents. Heading the group was Elisha D. Smith, a successful businessman and owner of the Menasha Wooden Ware Company, who approved $1,000 to purchase books.
  • August 1896 – Miss Lucinda Lee Pleasants, author, poet and another driving force in the founding of the library, was appointed as its first librarian. The children’s room addition which was built in the Mill St. library in 1930-31 was dedicated to her, as is the Storytime Room at the current library building.
  • July 12, 1897 – The library became a free public institution open to all residents when the City of Menasha agreed to levy a property tax to maintain it.
  • September 1, 1897 – Elisha D. Smith bestowed a founding gift of $25,000 to invest in the construction of its new building and another $10,000 grant providing for an operations endowment. He also convinced the City of Menasha to fund the library.
  • October 21, 1898 – Grand opening and dedication of the new Free Public Library of Menasha. Hundreds attended a jubilant dedication at the downtown corner of Mill and Water streets.

For more information about the Menasha Library’s 125th Anniversary celebration events in 2021 visit their website.

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