The Gretna Public Library originally got its start in a small section of the town’s fire barn. In 1929, the Women’s Club raised the money to purchase an old gas station and the Village Board officially established the Gretna Public Library. With just twelve books in its collection originally, the Library’s collection grew to 1,800 books by 1937 through donations by town’s people and from other clubs.
While much work had been done to the interior of the Library to best use the space available, after over 20 years of service, the Library was hopelessly out of space. On March 31, 1981 a special election was held to vote on a bond issue for building a new library. The vote was defeated, so the Library Board decided to form a Library Foundation for the sole purpose of raising money for the new building. The Foundation was formed on August 25, 1983, and by 1991 a $100,000 grant was made available to Gretna and the balance was raised by the Foundation.
On June 14, 1992 the newly constructed Gretna Public Library was dedicated.
For twenty years, the current building has been used as the Gretna Public Library, but once again, the Library was running out of space. With a community that is growing very quickly, the amount of space that was available at the 736 South Street location faced a challenge of meeting the needs of the people. A new library was desperately needed, but the funds were not available with the state of the economy to build a one. A compromise was made by the City of Gretna though- they would renovate an existing building three blocks from the current library to create the Gretna Children’s Library, and the current one would become the Adult/Young Adult Library.
The building on the corner of McKenna Avenue and Wallace Street had originally been the Post Office in the 1960s. Years later it became The Coin Emporium, and when the owner sought out a new location, the City of Gretna bought it to be used as the new Children’s Library. Planning for the Children’s Library began on December 13th, 2010 and renovations began in August 2011. On February 21, 2012 the Gretna Children’s Library opened at 119 North McKenna Avenue, just three blocks from the Main Library.
Like the community of Gretna, the Gretna Public Library is growing as well, but it’s purpose remains the same: to provide a place of life-long learning for its residents.