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History of the Library

June 1904 

The Farmers Social Club held a meeting where they decided to start a public library for Orion. 

January 10, 1905

The Reading Room was opened to the public in the Opera House and held 486 books. The room was rented for $15 a month and was open every week night and on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons. The Opera House was located around 309 10th Ave, across the street from where The O Kitchen and Tap is currently located.

Picture of the old opera house

April 1906

Western Township voted on and approved the township taking over library. It was also approved to use property taxes to support it.

January 1, 1907

Having outgrown the room in the Opera House, the library moved into two rooms on the second floor of the State Bank of Orion. The rooms were rented for $75 a year and half of the electric bill. Later this year, the first set of library rules went into effect.

Picture of the State Bank of Orion building


The library remodeled and moved into a residence which stood on the lot of where the current library sits.

Picture of the house that was rented

September 2, 1932

The library received numerous donations and were able to build a new building. The residence was moved to Mr. Charles Gustafson's property, a little over a block away on Washington Street (which is now 12th Street). This house is still there, though additions have been added on. The new library building cost $14,597.

Picture of the inside of the library in 1932
Picture of the outside of the library in 1932
Picture of the inside of the library in 1932


With a bequest from the Samuelson family, an addition was put on the back side of the library.

Picture of the library board doing the first dig for the new addition
drawing of the addition to the back of the library


The library joins the River Bend Library System, now known as Prarie Cat.


Voters in the portions of Andover, Lynn, and Osco townships served by Orion schools agree to support the library with taxes. The library's name is changed to Western District Library. 


The library district grows again with the addition of Rural Township residents who live in Orion school district.


The first Public Access Computer was purchased with funds donated by the Orion Fall Festival.

October 2022

The library closes for much awaited renovations. 

Image of the inside of the back room of the library. The place is very torn up, awaiting renovations
Image of the new layout of the library
Image of the front of the library awaiting renovations

May 2023

The library opens up after the renovation. The library now features study rooms, a new staff area, bigger bathrooms, a utility closet, an ADA-compliant ramp, a non-fiction room, and a lift!

Fun Facts:

  • Mrs. Katherine Harless was the first librarian and she worked for 50 cents each afternoon or evening that she worked.

  • Abigail Gustafson had recalled that the librarian, Katherine Harless, did not want to remove the book jackets when she placed the books on the shelf, dreading the time when handling would “dim their freshness”. However, Katherine’s mother and Mr. Edgar Love encouraged her to remove them so that “the collection might look more like a library and less like a book store,”

  • When giving out “borrower cards”, Katherine and Mrs. Isabel Love decided not to give out card number thirteen. “They wanted everybody to have a fair start."

  • In 1907, three books had to be destroyed because they had been exposed to a contagious disease.

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