Public Libraries of Iowa

Cities I-Z


(L) There are two interesting details on the L.L. Cook photo card. One is the porcelain 'Public Library' plaque to the left of the entry. The other is the decoration above the door. To me it looks like Batgirl playing a zither, but I suspect it's really one of those 1890s stylized women reading a book.

(R) C.U. Williams postcard.

Per the site 'Small Town Gems,' this was known as the Munson (1893-5) Building, and became the library sometime thereafter. Whether it's still the library is unknown to me.

As for the building itself, I would hazard an educated guess that it's French Gothic, but a case could be made for Empire or Italianate.

Morning Sun (Mellinger Memorial Library)

Mailed in 1949, this is one of my favorite cards, which includes a dusty, tired-looking car and old-fangled stop signs with cat-eye reflectors. However, the library is brand-spankin' new, built in that Deco style.
Not very visible in the scan are the two tower clocks. One reads slightly before 4:00, the other, 2:40.

Dedicated in 1937, and built from the remnants of a foundation fortune lost in the Depression, this building is still in use.

Muscatine (Musser Public Library)

(L) A lovely early card, shows a horse-drawn open carriage and various people going about their day. The composition resembles that of Tuck postcards.

Muscatine has a fascinating history, but along with many other Mississippi River cities, it has gone into a decline.

This was a spectacular Romanesque library, built of Portage red sandstone and funded by P.M. Musser. The replacement library is not nearly as grand.
The building shown was renovated in 1965, but was then replaced in 1970. Not entirely happy with that building, the Musser family funded another addition in 1972.

The L.L. Cook card is the most accurate view of the Library. The front of a car, probably from the early 1930s, intrudes upon the scene. Public Library is cut into the stone surrounding the entry, and another building stands in the background.
L.L. Cook publishers, from Milwaukee, should not be confused with the religious material publisher from Elgin, IL. L.L. Cook postcards generally feature medium sized cities, including street scenes and civic buildings.


Delicately tinted Litho-chrome brand card, mailed 1909.


Nevada is a Lincoln Highway city, as is Creston.

Built in the early 1900s, replaced in 1989, demolished in 1990.
Information from the library history page.


Formed in 1909, built in 1929. Replaced in 2006.
Appears to be still standing, but possibly used for storage.


L.L. Cook seldom makes a mistake on their cards, but this one is captioned 'Olwein, Iowa.'
It was inscribed for mailing in 1948, but if mailed, it was sent in an envelope.

Rock Rapids



Sterling Quality card, possibly by CoMo Photo/L.L. Cook. Mailed in 1918, during the wartime postage hike.

Saint Ansgar (Nissen Library)

The first library was unfortunately demolished in 1929 when the Champlin gas station next door exploded.
This building, its replacement, was built in 1930.


The back of the card has another opinion, stating:

Not so large, but very nice and it was rebuilt and moved from Main St. (about 6 blks. south). Written 18 December 1959.

Sioux City

1892 - ?


This library building pre-dated the Carnegie building in Sioux City. Its surprisingly large size stems from the inclusion of the Library within City Hall. Sometime between 1950 and 1986 the building burnt.


I don't think a Champlin station was involved.


The card was postmarked in 1910 and has an evenly divided back.

Sioux Rapids

The very definition of utilitarian.

I don't know if this was the hardware store in which the Library was originally housed, or the 1947 building. If the latter, it's still in use.


L.L. Cook postcard, never mailed.

Strawberry Point

Earl Bardach postcard.

By McGrew Color Graphics.

Earl Bardach postcard.

Founded in 1934. It's unclear if the building, still extant, still functions as a library.

Sutherland (General N. B. Baker Library)

Founded by William Huston and Roma Wheeler Woods, Sutherland's library is named after the man who brought the collection together, the former governor of New Hampshire.

Postcard ID'd by annotation, and comparing with the image on Google Street Views. There has been little change to the building, except for a snoutlike porch for the entry. However, a 2007 flood nearly wiped the building off the map.


The library history is far more interesting than this pathetic Artvue card, whose redeeming feature is a '62 Chevy.


A grant from the National Government for Unemployed Teachers, plus local donations, founded the Victor Community Library, which opened in 1934 in a drugstore's balcony (more likely, a mezzanine). With seven librarians, and four pages, it lasted only one year.

The 1955 effort, which this card does not show, succeeded, moving in late 1956 to the location likely seen here. At this point, it received tax monies, but after a bake sale was held to buy shelves! 
It tottered along until 1986, when patron Janet Wilkins left her estate to the city.
Poof! a new building was built in 1989.


Other cities' libraries could learn to put together a history page like Victor has done. However, I can't find another reference to those unemployed teachers anywhere.

Washington (The Jane A. Chilcote Public Library)

(L) C.U. Williams 'Photoette' card.
(R) One of the first Curt Teich postcards, with a divided back, mailed in 1908.

Similar views of the 1901-1952 iteration of Washington's library. Demolished due to termites and a crumbling foundation.
Three library buildings have succeeded the Chilcote one.

(R) 'Sky-Tint' brand postcard, never mailed.

A lot of weeding must have done to fit the library into this small brick building. However, an addition was staved off until 1991.

I believe this ca. 1954 card was produced by L.L. Cook: if not, some other production assistant had near-identical, extremely neat printing.

Webster City (Kendall Young Library)

(L) L.L. Cook photo card.

(R) Curt Teich 'C.T. Blue Sky' card postmarked 1939.


Built 1904.

MacKinlay Kantor, Civil War author, was a Webster City native. Quote from Martin E. Nass:

Kantor stated that 'he did not attend college, but Kendall Young Library was his university from the day it opened' when he was a small boy. Librarian Charlotte Crosley encouraged him in his pursuit of knowledge. His special interest was the Civil War. He spent hours sitting and listening to the Civil War veterans. This led him to write his novel, Andersonville, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1956. His novel Glory for Me was made into the Academy Award winning movie 'The Best Years of Our Lives' in 1948.


How hard it must have been to do the necessary research here, in the days before interlibrary loan, fax machines, and photocopiers! 
No wonder he gave Ms. Crosley justified recognition.

West Branch

Four views of West Branch's buildings. An enlargement of the library quadrant is on the right.

Speedily built in 1904. The south room was added in 1930, the entrance enclosed in 1963, and in 1974, the basement was converted to a children's library.

Replaced in 1993.

Houses the West Branch Times today: history from the Library's web site.

West Union (Heiserman Library)

West Union has struggled with maintaining library service. The 1907 library closed--with an approximate $25 debt--in 1907. 20 years elapsed until service resumed.
Surprisingly, this is a 1954 building. It was replaced--again, grudgingly--in 1999.


Heiserman uncertainty principle?


The L.L. Cook card also shows a Conoco station in the background.

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