In 1900 the Olio, Literary, Fortnightly and Tuesday Clubs decided to start a free public library. They approached the City Council who agreed to set a tax base to pay expenses. May 20, 1901 the First Library Board was selected, 9 members, with Captain Kitchell presiding as president. The library was in the rear of the second floor of the YMCA building which is now the Moose Lodge at the corner of Second & Poplar streets. While moving things at the library, Director, Janet Hicks, found a bound handwritten book of how the library was organized. The first benefit in 1901, made $25.40. In 2000, a drive began to raise money for the new handicapped addition. After seven years, ½ million dollars was raised. The first year of the library, it housed approximately 800 books, all donated. The present library houses approximately 26,000 books in 2012.
The fall of 1909, the Library Board contacted Andrew Carnegie, a philanthropist, who was establishing libraries around the United States, for assistance in building a Pana library. His qualifications had not been met, so in 1910, Warren Penwell tried to negotiate with Carnegie again and Mr. Carnegie agreed, if the City of Pana would promise to financially support the library. Mr. Carnegie donated $14,000.00, Mr. Henry N. Schuyler donated the land. The present building at 303 East Second Street, was completed, December 1912 and an Open House was January 14th, 1913, with over 300 in attendance.
Head Librarians have been, Nelle Reese, Nellie C. Russell, Jennie Long, Fannie Vidler, Marie Maisch, Marion Kuehnert, Kathleen Deere and Janet Hicks.
Many improvements have been made to the library. In the early 1990’s the basement was opened and shelved to house around 8,000 volumes for the adult non-fiction, it also housed the Internet computers. Many small improvements such as handrails, landscaping, efficient lighting, and bookshelves have been made. The largest improvement began in 2000 with a campaign to allow the building to keep its’ historical value and yet become handicapped accessible. In 2007, ½ million dollars had been raised to add a new addition with an elevator, circulation desk, a library board room, program room and supply storage area. The new handicapped addition Open House was October 13, 2007. Dignitaries such as Senator Gary Hannig, Representative Deanna Demuzio, and Mayor, Steven Sipes were present for the dedication.
The library offers free services, such as Inter Library Loan, where a book can be ordered from another library and be received at the Pana Library in a matter of a couple of days, Talking Books for the deaf, blind and learning disabled, State road maps, City of Pana maps, Rules of the Road, and other interesting materials.
Children and adult programs are offered throughout the year. One does not need a library card to attend. All programming can be found on the library website.
Our current website gives genealogy information as well as the holidays, hours, staff, board members and history of the library.
Memorials are a wonderful benefit to the library. Memorials have afforded the library such things as computers, energy efficient windows and doors, bookshelves, printers, cabinets, ceiling fans, checkout desks, books and many other items. Donations are always accepted by the library and put to good use.