These stories can also be heard on Sunday mornings around 10 am on WILD 102’s “Look Back in Time” program. Each week’s radio story will be posted here on our website.
Weekly radio stories are researched, compiled, and read by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member.
December 3, 2023
The first sign of a library in Roseau was a rental shelf in the C. O. Heyerdahl drugstore. Then the American
Auxiliary began the seeds of a lending library by setting aside $232.51 in March, 1936, for the creation of a
library. At this time, the new municipal building was being planned and the Auxiliary asked for a library in
this building. They were given a corner room on the first floor with an adjoining workroom, and they began
raising money for books.
Eighty-five years ago, Roseau Times-Region was announcing the opening of a Public Library in town. A Silver
Tea was set for December 7 th according to an article in the December 1, 1938 issue of the Roseau Times-
Region. It was to be open for inspection by the public from 2:00 to 5:30 with coffee and tea being served. A
free will offering of “silver coins” was to be accepted, the money to be used for purchasing books or other
The new furniture had arrived and been placed in the library. It consisted of an all steel desk and two steel
reading tables in walnut finish and an oak filing cabinet. Miss Anna Heyerdahl, the librarian stated that the
work of cataloguing all the books was being completed rapidly. A fine selection of books was said to be on
hand and the number would be increased as the needs of the community were determined.
During the Open House, books could be inspected, but none were to be given out until the following day.
Applications for books could be made out the day of the inspection, however. People were encouraged to
donate books. They could call Mrs. A. H. Fikkan, Mrs. Robert Windus, or Mrs. J. Snustad if they had any to
offer, and some one would call for them and deliver them to the library.
A week later, there were more details about the library’s interior. Some of the things pointed out were
described this way: “The village has had a fine rubberized floor covering in nice pattern laid in the library
room and foyer. The walls and ceiling have been given a coat of white paint and the woodwork stained and
varnished. The shelving along the east and north walls have been given the same color of stain and
varnished. The shelving is adjustable.
Shades for the windows were donated by J. A. Helgeson, while the fixtures for the drapes for the windows
are a gift from Kveen & Listug. The shades are of tan color and the drapes are of grayish tint with blue trim.
Library furniture was bought by the Auxiliary from funds raised by it or given to it for the purpose. Several
memorials have been given to the library to be expended by the Auxiliary.
New books have been bought, a number have been donated, a fine collection has been temporarily secured
from the traveling library, and more new books will be bought with funds already on hand.
The library has at present about seven hundred books.”
One week later, the library board of the American Legion Auxiliary met and checked over the materials on
hand. There were then 1,000 books on the shelves.
Two weeks after opening, the library was being well patronized, and book donations were still coming in and
were greatly appreciated. The following list of rules regarding library books had been adopted.
1. Borrowers’ cards will expire at the end of three years and may be renewed at the end of that period.
2. Cards will not be issued to children under ten years of age, but small children may obtain books
through their parents’ cards. The parents are then held responsible for books so issued.
3. A ten-cent fee will be charged for lost identification cards.
4. A rental of 3 cents a day will be made for new books from the rental shelf.
5. Strangers will be requested to make a deposit of $1.00 for each book, and this deposit to be
refunded when the book is returned.
6. A borrower is entitled to only one book at a time.
7. No books are to be held for any borrower except for some specific purpose.
8. Books may be kept two weeks and may be renewed once for the same period, except 7-day books.
9. A fine of 2 cents a day will be charged on each book not returned according to rule.
10. All injuries to books shall be made good to the satisfaction of the librarian.
So that was what it was like in the new library 85 years ago. This week Friends of the Library will
commemorate the library’s 85 years of operation. Many thanks to the original Library Commission of the
Auxiliary, namely: Mrs. A. H. Fikkan, chairman; Mrs. R. F. Windus, Mrs. A. W. Sunset, Mrs. Henry Thoe, and
Mrs. J. Snustad, for what they started. They wouldn’t recognize it anymore.
Thank you to (www.roseauonline.com) for letting us share our county’s history with your listeners by donating air time, studio time, and production staff every week.