The Aneta Public Library began as a project of the Aneta Civic Club, a women’s club begun in 1908 by a group of women who wanted to improve the minds and lives of the citizens living in and around Aneta, North Dakota. Begun as a book club, the idea soon grew to include a collection of materials available to borrow and return to a central location.
In 1911 the members of the Aneta Civic Club became a part of the North Dakota Federation of Women’s Clubs and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), an international organization devoted to volunteerism and improvement of life. One of the goals of GFWC was to have libraries available in every community throughout the United States. Aneta was no exception; the Civic Club appointed a committee to “make a library happen” and happen it did.
The first “librarians” were volunteers from the club and semi-regular hours were established. Few records are available of the early years of the library, but the idea took hold and, by the 1940s, regularly assigned hours were maintained at the library housed in the Aneta Auditorium. Saturdays were always busy with folks coming in to buy groceries and to sell produce–eggs & cream. Civic Club volunteers maintained the shelves and the club bought and donated many books to the library which continued operation in the “Civic Club Room” of the Auditorium until the mid-1970s when the fuel crisis occurred. The City Council decided to cut heating to the club room during the winter months and the library maintained summer hours.
In 1979 the city council received a letter from Carnegie Regional Library at Grafton, which had operated a Bookmobile in a 4-County area for many years. The Bookmobile service was being discontinued and the city was offered a stationary Bookmobile service. The only requirement was that a librarian was to be appointed to maintain regular hours for the operation.
The Aneta Civic Club agreed to take charge and the City Council agreed to provide the book station site. Karen Retzlaff volunteered to act as librarian. While the bookmobile was a good addition to the community, the library in the Auditorium was used less frequently. The bookmobile was unheated and uncomfortable during the winter months, yet patrons continued to come to check out books.
In 1992 an opportunity to purchase a building arose when the Aneta Post Office moved to a different site and the “old” building was left unoccupied. Negotiations began between the owner of the building and the City Council. The building was purchased with moneys raised within the community and matched by the North Dakota State Library. After months of renovation by volunteers from the community, the Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting was held in June 1993.
The Aneta Public Library is a branch of the Carnegie Regional Library, headquartered in Grafton and is supported in part by CRL. The library receives 21.5 hours of salaried librarian and a portion of a book-leasing program that provides access to best-selling books for the patrons.
Donations of memorials, books, and other items are always welcome.