In 1890, members of the Two Rivers Branch of the Chautauqua Reading Circle met to consider the establishment of a public library and reading room. Leopold Mann donated $500 and the land for the building and Mrs. Mary Mann donated an additional $1,000 toward the building on the condition that the new library be named after her late husband, Joseph.
On December 17, 1891 the Joseph Mann Library opened to the public. The total cost of the library including building, heater, furniture and the initial book collection was $3,363.73. Lizzie H. Yahnke was the first librarian.
In 1914, Two Rivers built its new Carnegie library, still called the Joseph Mann Library, but located across the street from the original library. Though extensively remodeled and expanded during the 1950s and 60s, community leaders recognized that a more modern and spacious facility would be needed.
On May 15, 1995, James Lester, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Eggers Industries of Two Rivers, and his wife Barbee offered the Two Rivers City Council $1 million toward the construction of a new library. The City Council readily accepted and on June 28, 1997 the Lester Public Library–named in honor of Jim’s parents, George and Marcia Lester–opened for business.
*Sources: History of the Joseph Mann Library Two Rivers, Wisconsin 1890-1979 by Bonita Burish Loeh (1980) and the Program for the Lester Public Library Dedication and Open House.