Agnes Robinson Waterloo Public Library, 2001
Agnes Robinson Waterloo Public Library, 2009

One of the founders of Waterloo, Nebraska, John H. Logan, homesteaded in 1863, in the area known today as Waterloo. A year later, in 1864, Logan used his home for the first post office and somewhat of a library. The library consisted of his own personal books that he loaned. He built and operated the first hotel known as the Waterloo House where he continued to have books available to the public until he moved in 1879 to Missouri.

Throughout the history of the library in Waterloo, the women’s groups in our community have played a very important part. In fact, if not for their active roles in keeping the library going, our community may not have a library today. Housing for the books was always a concern and at times the books were taken door-to-door by the ladies in little red wagons.

In 1880, the Ladies Circulating Library was active in the community and in January of 1881, this same group kept their books in Dr. Huddleston’s new drug store.

In December of 1881, the women met under the name of the Waterloo Public Library Association. The library, consisting of seventy five books, was kept in the Hagenbuck’s home and membership fee to the association was ten cents.

In 1975, the community building where the woman’s club, which doubled as the Waterloo Library Commission, were faced with finding a new site within two days of the deadline set by the Nebraska Library Commission, or lose financial aid. They chose the new 14′ x 26′ pump house and garage owned by the city as a temporary site for the library. The pump house remained a temporary library for seven years. With no bathroom or running water, it was difficult to find anyone who wanted to be the librarian.

The library was moved to a building smaller than the pump house, donated by Bill Johnson, in memory of his father Herbert W. (Ben) Johnson. An addition was first constructed in order for it to be used as the library. In January of 1986, the new library was opened with 640 square feet.

In the twenty years that the library remained at the 205 Washington Street address across from the post office, it underwent another addition in 1992 to accommodate its growing collection of books as well as patrons, and also a name change in 1998.

The Agnes Robinson Waterloo Public Library was the new name for the library, chosen to recognize long-time resident Agnes Robinson who promoted libraries, worked for them and gave generously to them.

On September 17, 2006, the Agnes Robinson Waterloo Public Library was donated to the Village of Waterloo by Donna and Edward T. Robinson, Jr., longtime business owners and residents of Waterloo. They also established the Robinson Waterloo Public Library Foundation to assist with the operation of the library.

The library is a source of knowledge, culture, and inspiration for excellence – characteristics of the family whose name it bears. The library is not only home to a wealth of information, providing educational and recreation reading for, but a gathering place for the citizens of Waterloo and surrounding areas. To all who enter these doors, today and for generations to come, the Agnes Robinson Waterloo Public Library will forever be committed to providing a “Window to the World” for inquiring minds.