An organized library in Oconto dates back to March 13, 1878 when a group of book-lovers met to organize the Oconto Library Association. A few books were gathered and circulated from the home of one of the association. A few years later the association rented a room in Runkel Jewelry store on Main Street and that served the public as a library. By 1886 there were 1,120 books in the library collection. The popularity of the library was sufficient to warrant a committee to ask 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 became very successful for a man who had little formal education except from reading good books. In his Library Dedication Address he spoke of coming to Oconto a poor man and wanted to leave an acknowledgement of the good he had received during his life here. He decided on something very useful to benefit the community—a free public library. In December 1901, Farnsworth made a proposition to the City Council offering to build a library, if the city would maintain it. On March 11, 1902, the City formally accepted Farnsworth's gift with the provision that a yearly appropriation be made annually for maintenance. Oconto's free public library was dedicated on June 27, 1903. Almost from the beginning, the library became the center of a traveling library system for all of Oconto County. [http://www.nfls.lib.wi.us/oco/]A History of Oconto, Wisconsin