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Our History

History of the Fremont Area District Library

History of the Fremont Area District Library

The first library was established in the Fremont Community Building in 1922.  Members of the early library board included: D. Alton, S. Nisbet, D. VanderWerp, H. Blandford, L.J. Lambers, Mrs. G. Monroe, Mrs. Harry Reber, Mrs. Dorcas Nelson, and Mrs. Frank Gerber.

The first librarian, Mildred Reddy, reported a circulation of 10,627 items during the first year of operation.  Fremont residents paid $1,100 in taxes to support the library that first year (estimated population: 2,100). 

In 1927, the library was moved to the high school and became a school-public library, with the city providing $1,000 for operation and the school providing $500. Beginning in 1929 non-residents were able to check out books upon payment of an annual fee of $1.00.  Circulation nearly doubled in 1931.

In addition to Mildred Reddy, who served the library for at least 18 years, other dedicated women who served as librarian included Ethel Saur, Anna Beth Ward and Sylvia Blandford.

Action was taken by a group of interested citizens in 1963 to bring about the concept of the full-service library that we know today.  The Fremont Public Library Foundation was established in July 1963 dedicated to the task of securing a library for Fremont. Mr. and Mrs. Dan Gerber, Sr. donated $50,000 to fund the purchase of a former bank building to be remodeled into a library.  The community then raised the needed $100,000.  First library board members included R. Phinny, Dan Gerber, Jr., W. Kempf, Mrs. J. P. Klein and the Rev. J. Medendorp.  Elizabeth Hutchins was hired as librarian and she proved to be just the spark Fremont needed to build a library from “scratch.”

Original library building

By 1980 the library had outgrown the former back building, and under the leadership of The Fremont Area Foundation, a advisory group again held a community campaign to provide funding for a new library building located at 104 East Main St. This building of approximately 12,000 square feet was funded by a combination of funding from The Fremont Area Foundation, The Gerber Foundation and a community fund drive.  The library moved into the expanded building in July 1982, when adults and children came together to form a human chain "book brigade" and moved books to the new building. It was projected that this building would meet the community’s needs for 10 years.

Library building

By 1995 the Fremont Public Library had outgrown the “new building.”  The library board began aggressively planning to expand the building.  The Board of Trustees sought community input via consultants, focus groups, surveys and meeting with local leaders.  In addition to space needs, the Board of Trustees had to come up with a plan to provide equitable, stable operational funding for an expanded building.  The library formed an advisory committee with membership from the City of Fremont, The Fremont Area Foundation, Fremont Public Schools, Dayton Township, Sherman Township, and Sheridan Township to look at options.  In July 1996 this advisory committee formed the Fremont Area District Library using the boundaries of the Fremont Public School district.  In September 1997 library district residents approved 1.5 mills, in perpetuity for library operation.

Following approval of a district library millage, library trustees worked with planning consultants and architects to design a library building to serve the residents for residents of the greater Fremont area through 2020.  The resulting building is 39,000 square feet and for the first time includes a local history room, pre-school programming room, copy room, young adult area, quiet study rooms, and a drive-up book drop.  Once again, the building was entirely funded by private donations, included grants from The Fremont Area Foundation, The Gerber Foundation, the Dogwood Foundation, The Herrick Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, plus a community fund drive which resulted in over 1,200 donors giving over $1.5 million dollars.

FADL Statue Reveal
Reveal of sculpture created by Ray Jansma and Cara O'Brien. This sculpture features Ray's grandchildren carting books to the library.