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A Closer Look

Hedberg Public Library

155 Years of Wonderful Service!

Story by Teresa Nguyen

May, 2020

The Young Men's Association started our first library in 1865. By 1874, The Janesville Ladies Temperance Union organized a free library and reading room.

Education Books Bookshelfs
The history of our library goes back 155 years! That's a LOT of wonderful reading, education and service to our community! The following is a brief timeline of the history of the Hedberg Public Library
The Early Years
1865 - Janesville's first library began in a small space, started by the Young Men's Association. It was located in the Lapin Building near the Milwaukee St. bridge. 

1874 - The Janesville Ladies Temperance Union organized a free library and reading room, which was moved to the Bennett Block on West Milwaukee Street.

1884 - The City of Janesville adopted the building as our official public library in 1884!
1902 - Our first permanent library was built with funding from the Andrew Carnegie foundation and the estate of F.S. Eldred of Janesville. This beautiful, grand structure at 64 S. Main is now the Senior Center.
New Library

1968 - A new library was built at its current location, just down the street at 316 South Main. 

1993 - In 1993, a $3 million gift from Don and Gerry Hedberg helped kickstart new renovations. More donations came from Lab Safety Supply (Grainger) in Janesville, city taxpayers, the library's capital campaign, The Janesville Foundation and Friends of Janesville Public Library.

A temporary library was set up at the Job Center building on Center Avenue on Janesville’s south side. 


In honor of Don and Gerry, the newly remodeled building on Main Street was renamed Hedberg Public Library. It is part of the Arrowhead Library System of public libraries in Rock County. 

A Bookmobile

2016 – A team from the Leadership Development Academy decided to establish a bookmobile for their project. 

The Janesville Fire Department ended up donating a decommissioned ambulance to the project. Our 12 elementary schools held book drives collecting over 1,000 books!


HPL also added some of their circulation into the bookmobile for checkout. The library’s bookmobile can be seen all over town, in neighborhoods and at community events, taking books to young readers of our community.


2019 – Through a few years of planning, together with the Transform Your Library fundraising campaign, HPL began much needed renovations toward a redesigned program room, an expanded teen area, four additional study rooms, additional seating, and a central desk with cross-trained staff.

In September of 2019, a new branch opened in the Janesville Mall to serve the community on the north side of town.
Lower Floor and JATV
At the main building downtown, one enters the gift shop and café area on the lower floor, which also holds an array of used books for sale. On this lower floor are numerous staff and administrative offices, plus a public meeting room.
HPL is also home to our  Janesville Access Television (JATV) studio. The important, local station, under the direction of Alan Luckett, along with his hard working staff, features programming of Janesville area events like Music at the Marv, National Night Out and the Rock County Fair, to name just a few. It showcases community created content, such as original productions at the Janesville Performing Arts Center and brings us a variety of local government news, City Council meetings and other area happenings. The station is an itegral service of our city, and since the start of the 2020 pandemic, JATV has kept our community informed by broadcasting all of our local government's COVID-19 briefings.  
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Upper Floor
Following the grand, curved staircase to the second floor, or a quick ride in the elevator, folks can browse through a vast collection of reading materials and digital collections.  Near the center skylight, one can view exhibits of original photography & art by local artists. 
East of the skylight is an impressive and beautiful children’s department, which also hosts a variety of free events for young families. Area parents can bring their babies and toddlers in for "Baby Lap Sit" story times, families can attend children's sing alongs, puppet shows and more.
There are puzzle and play areas, games and toys to check out as well as award winning picture books for the very young.
Every summer, HPL hosts motivational reading programs, bringing fun to the habit of reading! A young family could spend a wonderful afternoon enjoying all there is to offer little ones at the Children's Room.
HPL has a cool teen area, as well, and provides programming throughout the year for teens and adults.
Those interested in community history or genealogy research can find the tools they need at Hedberg Public Library!
HPL offers multiple meeting spaces, as well. Monthly exhibits and displays often reflect our current events or seasonal topics. Watch for those interesting displays near the checkout area.
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There is so much more to find and do at HPL…too much to list in this short story! Take some time to explore our beautiful Hedberg Public Library!
Learn how you can support our local library by becoming a Friend of HPL. Find current hours and programs by visiting their website at

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