Benson Library


The Benson Public Library promotes life-long learning, cultural
enrichment, and entertainment for all ages.

The Benson Public Library will be an active contributor to
recreational, intellectual, cultural, and economic growth of the

Founders of the Benson Public Library
The first real founders of the library were Rev. and  Mrs. C.L. Bates, a local Episcopalian rector and his wife, who in 1900, through their own personal efforts assembled about 50 books, many of them from their own collection. In May 1906 the Benson Library Association was formed. About 90 people signed the pledge, each paying $1.00 per year.


In 1911 through the diligent work of Dr. C.L. Scofield, E.R. Aldrich, Leslie Matthews and others $7,500 was obtained from Andrew Carnegie, the noted librarian philanthropist, for a new building. The site decided upon was block 13 located on the corner of Kansas Ave. and 14th St. for $500.00.

February 1, 1913

A new building was completed with grant monies from Andrew Carnegie. Nina Brown became the first librarian and served faithfully until 1962. Pansey Syverson became Nina’s assistant in 1952, and undertook the head librarian’s duties following the death of Nina Brown.


These were difficult years for both librarians. Their salaries were very minimal-pansy’s wage was .50 an hour for the first ten years while she was assistant librarian. No record was found of for the salaries of the head librarian but one can be certain it was by comparison very low.

Friends of the Library

In 1969, a” Friends of the Library” organization was started. These interested and dedicated members, among other duties gave much useful direction and leadership.


The Benson Library joined the Western Plains network with headquarters in Willmar, MN. This has given an even bigger and more comprehensive ability to share information and services with other member libraries. During the 1960-1980 Benson Library sustained a large growth. It contained about 15,000 books and 50 magazine subscriptions. It became evident during the 1980’s that the library began to experience growing pains. More books and periodicals were added, less room was available for administrative duties, shelving space , storage, studying tables, and lounge chairs. The library was designed for the 1913 Benson population of 1,677 and sparsely settled rural areas.

New Building

Work began immediately to draw up plans, select a site, raise funds, clear the paperwork and break ground for the new building. Ground breaking began in October of 1992. A beautiful new building was completed June 1993. The project cost was $590,381. Covering 5,754 square feet it includes a computer room/meeting room, study room, and is completely handicap accessible.


Funded by the Friends of the Library and grants from SMAHC, Debra Connelly & her daughter, Tara, designed and painted a mural of Alice in Wonderland above the entrance to the Children’s area in the fall of 2011.  In addition, ten area young artists painted enlarged details of the mural on small canvases which hang on the opposite wall over the adult fiction & non-fiction area.