For many years the only places to check out a book in Dyersville were a small shelf of volumes maintained in the City Hall or the Dubuque County Library Bookmobile on one of its bi-weekly stops at the Commercial Club Park. In recognition of the need for a permanent established library to meet the cultural and educational needs of the town, Monsignor M. M. Hoffman, pastor of the parish of St. Francis Xavier, organized a group of other concerned citizens and formed a board of trustees. This tireless board brought the Dyersville Public Library into existence.
After months of working with the City Council and other community leaders, the ordinance to begin a library in Dyersville was passed by the City Council in 1956. The coordination of citizens of the community and the generous donations of these same people brought about the library opening at the site of the old gymnasium in City Hall. Before the formal dedication of the Dyersville Public Library, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name to honor its founder, Matthias M. Hoffman. This grand day of dedication was September 11, 1959.
Thanks to the total commitment of our City Council members, community leaders, the citizens of the town, the various members of the Library Board of Trustees and the librarians and staff members these past forty-two and a half years, Dyersville has maintained an exceptional library. The library has kept abreast of the times, socially and politically. An expansion was made into the old fire station in 1970 to house an extensive children’s collection and to allow for story hours and summer reading programs. This growth was approved by the Council and the Federated Woman’s Club sponsored the expense of furnishing the area.
Over time, with the addition of material and equipment, it became evident that the library was outgrowing its space. Planning with the Council once again brought plans for different sites to give the Library room to grow. After two attempts, a bond issue was passed to build a new facility at 320 1st Ave. E.—adjacent to its previous location. That was a red letter day for the whole area community. The dream of the original library board to provide for the cultural and educational needs of the people was moving onto a new level.
Outstanding committees led by outstanding people worked hard to accomplish this dream. And then on March 1, 2001, a naming donation was given by James and Ellen Kennedy. his unselfish sharing of their capital put the monetary goal within reach. This concern for their community puts the Kennedys in high regard of the citizens of Dyersville. We are grateful for their generosity.
With other magnanimous gifts of money, time and effort, the groundbreaking for the James Kennedy Public Library was held on April 1, 2001. Exactly one year later, the new library opened to the public. What a stupendous sharing of effort, enthusiasm and energy this was!