An organized library in Oconto dates back to March 13,1878 when a group of book lovers met to organize the Oconto Library Association. Books were gathered and circulated from a member's home. A few years later the association rented a room in the Runkel Jewelry Store on Main Street which served the public as its library. By 1886 there were 1,120 books in the collection. The popularity of the library was sufficient to warrant a committee asking the city to maintain a free city library.
George W. Farnsworth, Sr., President of the Oconto Lumber Company, came to Oconto in 1856 at the age of 31. He had little formal education, but was well read and was mainly self taught. Mr. Farnsworth wanted to give something back to the area and decided a free public library would be of great benefit to his community. In December 1901, he made a proposal to the Oconto City Council offering to build the city a library, if they would agree to maintain it. On March 11, 1902, the City formally accepted Farnsworth's gift with the provision that they would make an annual appropriation to support the library's maintenance. Oconto's free public library was dedicated on June 27, 1903. From its early days, it served not only local residents, but also served as the center of a traveling library system for other areas of Oconto County.
Updated 2 January 2012