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Moving out: North Iowa genealogy group leaving library after 40 years

Genealogy 1

Sandra Turner, librarian of the North Central Iowa Genealogical Society, looks through a book of local World War II news clippings while boxes of genealogical materials sit on the porch of her home in Mason City.

MASON CITY | The North Central Iowa Genealogical Society is moving out of the Mason City Public Library after nearly 40 years.

The move is the result of a “positive meeting” between members of the Mason City Library Board of Trustees and the genealogical society earlier this week, Library Board vice president Dennis Reidel said during a special meeting Friday. 

“They have a variety of opinions amongst their group, but they have secured a location, a storage location to move their materials into and they are working on packing and moving materials this month,” he said.

Update: Mason City library shouldn't house private genealogy collection, trustees say

The library board and the genealogical society have been discussing its relocation for months after an eviction letter from Library Director Mary Markwalter cited “changing space utilization needs of the library.”

“It was a positive meeting in the end,” Reidel said. “We really didn’t get into discussing the history of how we got to this place. We really talked about what is the way forward and tried to keep things as positive as possible.”

He said the genealogical society is in negotiations with two locations to house its collection, but declined to name them publicly.

Because of rain and the society’s resources to transport genealogy materials, the committee, including trustees Reidel, John Henry and Jennifer Lee, suggested the library board give its members until Nov. 30 to vacate its space in the library, where it’s been housed since 1979.

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The library board voted, with Carrie Berg against, to approve the committee’s suggestion and granted the society an extension.

Berg questioned why the board would grant an extension when the society has nearly three weeks before its previous Oct. 31 deadline to move out.

“There’s a good possibility they might be finished with their move by then,” Henry said. “I guess unless we have definite plans to immediately act on that room, I guess we thought it’d be OK to extend that.”

Reidel agreed, stating they’d probably be done by the end of the month.

Friday’s meeting was in stark contrast to the library board’s last two meetings where dozens spoke in support of NCIGS. Three people attended the special meeting, and no one spoke during a public comment period. 

Genealogy Library will stay in Mason City Library until Sept. 30

Henry said once the genealogical society settles into a new space, it plans on creating brochures and he asked they be made available at the library to “help them to promote the traffic that would normally come here.”

The library board’s next meeting is 4:15 p.m. Oct. 16. There is nothing related to the genealogical society on its agenda.

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.


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