Only ten years after Bayfield was founded, the first library was established as a free Reading Room in 1857, signaling the community's early commitment to knowledge and the free exchange of information. Work on the grand structure still used as the community's library began when Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie provided $10,000 to the Bayfield Library Board. Architect Henry WildHagen designed the Greek Revival style building with the striking iconic columns of locally quarried brownstone.
The Bayfield Carnegie Library opened its doors January 10, 1904. Over the years dedicated citizens, hardworking librarians and board members, and civic groups such as the Junior Civic League continued support for the library. Library circulation increased from 3,000 in 1978 to over 39,000 in 2013. The library has adapted to the needs of the community with improvements from the addition of space in the lower level, digital services, and staff time.
Pictured above from left to right; Librarian Winnie Robinson, 1909-1929. Librarian Agnes Bodin, late 1960's. Librarian Lois Albrecht, 1978.
Pictured above from left to right; Junior Civic League 1957 Gymnastics taught by Norma Chape (Ann Moody, Mary Hauser, Mert Weborg, Mrs. Berger, Ole Cahill, Alma Waskow, Martha Barningham, Bobby Durham, and Norma Chape). Librarian Hope Atkinson and Ann Bowker, founder of the Apple Blossom Run display 1984 awards. Librarian Roberta Menger, 1990-2013.
The library is one of 30 library members of the Northern Waters Library Service, a system covering the eight northern Wisconsin counties. Member libraries have formed the Merlin Integrated Library Service Consortium through which they share the resources available for patrons to browse and request from the Merlin library catalog.