Library History

Frank & Betty Koller
In 1986, Frank and Betty Koller generously donated the library to the town of Manitowish Waters in memory of their son, Frank B. Koller. They again showed their support and generosity with the donation of a 760 square foot addition to the building in 1996. They have both passed away, but their estate continues to support the library very generously and will for years to come.


Pauline Zeber
Pauline Zeber was the first librarian at the Frank B. Koller Memorial Library, working on a volunteer basis since the library's inception. Pauline contributed thousands of hours of her time managing the library, purchasing new materials, and cataloging the library's collection.

A video series of the history of the library can be seen here.

Frank B. Koller Memorial Library Time Line

April 9, 1985

Committee was created to look into forming a library. Committee members: Rev. Hall (Chairman), Helen Townsend, Betty Skrobot, Toby Hyland

August 27, 1985

Committee recommended present site and a building to be constructed. Frank & Betty Koller offered to donate the library.

October 2, 1985

Library voted down at town meeting, 21 to 1

March, 1986

Second town meeting votes to establish the library. Frank & Betty Koller again offer to donate the building.

July 22, 1986

The first library board was sworn in, consisting of: Pauline Zeber (Chairman), Maxine Hall (Secretary), Robert Gunther, Toby Hyland, and Sue Carlson

September 26, 1986

Ground breaking for library building.

December 22, 1986

Pauline Zeber appointed Librarian on a volunteer basis.

June 22, 1987

Library opens its doors.

July 19, 1987

Library dedication ceremony.

February 22, 1988

"Friends of the Library" was formed, with Sue Rasey as president.

May 23, 1988

Construction began on the Sullivan Room, donated by Robert Sullivan in memory of his father Willis G. Sullivan.

July 1, 1991

Janelle (Oldenburg) Kohl was hired as a full time librarian.

June 1996

Construction begins on a 760 square foot addition, again donated by Frank & Betty Koller, with new equipment supported with funds from the Friends of the Library "Tea Bag" fund-raiser.

December 1996

Materials moved into new addition.

Spring 1998 - Spring 1999

Janelle Kohl and volunteers begin task of bar-coding materials for proposed automated circulation system.

April 1999

The first Librarian Assistant was hired. Teresa Schmidt.

March 15, 1999

Library begins an independent automated circulation system. (Winnebago system)

The orange cards were the first computer-based library cards.

October 18, 2002

The library becomes a part of the Merlin automation system, allowing users unprecedented access to library materials from the Northern Waters service area.

Fall 2008

Librarian Assistant Donna Fowler hired.


New sidewalk installed, front door with ADA assist, and roof re-shingled.

October 2012

Callie Bates hired as Librarian Assistant.

February 2014

All-library inventory.

Fall 2014

Community Room updates done for the first time since the library was built. Kitchen replaced, carpet, wall paint, artwork display system. Funds raised by Friends.

October 2014

Sarah Krembs hired as Librarian Assistant.

Feb 2016

Carpet replaced in the main part of the library. All books and furniture moved into semi trailers for the duration of the project!

July 12, 2017

Library celebrates its 30th anniversary with an open house attended by many community members including Betty Koller.

Summer 2018

Janelle is voted Citizen of the Year

March 19, 2019

Library Expansion vote passes in a town meeting of electors 

July, 2019

Groundbreaking for the new addition

Fall-Winter 2019-2020

Library addition was built through the fall and winter of 2019-2020.

See more photos.

March 18 - June 10, 2020

Library was closed for the longest time in its history due to the Covid-19 Pandemic

June 2020

Library open during the Covid-19 Pandemic but with limited hours, masks required, and curbside service available 24/7 in the new internet cafe.

April 2021

Library-wide inventory taken.

April 20, 2021

The Merlin online catalog is retired and the Northern Waters Library Network goes live to the public. Pika software is being used.

February 2022

New Circulation Desk is installed, replacing the one which was original to the building.

February 2022

Original florescent in-ceiling light fixtures replaced with LED units.

January 2024

Ceiling tiles for dropped ceiling in main part of library were replaced.