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Public Libraries of Iowa
Cities A-H

There don't seem to be quite as many Iowa libraries founded through local philanthropy (or completely funded by the municipality) as in neighboring Illinois. Then again, Illinois' population is far greater.

Adel, IA public library

Clearly, this was a church building reused as a library. However, I can't find either any information about the time frame, or whether this brick building was preserved. 

I believe the building in the background is the Dallas County courthouse. Using Google Street View in that neighborhood turns up zero buildings which could have held the Library, but I stand ready to be corrected.

The postcard image appears to have been taken in the 1930s, and it was mailed from Cumberland in 1943.


Anamosa is best known in Iowa as the location of the state reformatory. This building, replaced but still extant, has been scrubbed of its ivy, denuded of unruly shrubbery, and converted to a police station.

The new, generously sized building is known as the Anamosa Library & Learning Center.

The postcard was produced by L.L. Cook, and mailed in 1950.

Anamosa, IA public library, now replaced
Belle Plaine (Hart Memorial Library)
Hart Memorial Library, of Belle Plaine, IA

Belle Plaine's library service began with its Portia Club, which I believe to have been a woman's club. After a stint in a church and in a Main Street business building, Samuel S. Hart decided in 1929 that his former home needed better library quarters. 

Sometime after 1960, this building, in turn, was replaced by a rather utilitarian library which looks to be nearly doubled in size.

Postcard by L.L. Cook.

Belmond, IA library building

Demolished in 1971 subsequent to a 1966 tornado. Sometimes you just cannot save every historic building.

This Gothic-esque 1917 building was dedicated to Sarah Crist and built in 1917.

Boone (Ericson Library)
Ericson Library, of Boone, IA

(L) Curt Teich 'C.T. American Art' card, also featuring an M.E. Church. Apparently dates between 1908-1910, so that this card shows the original building.
(R) Evidently part of the Ericson building served as a museum. This card, mailed in 1912, shows an artist among wildlife mounts.

Interior of Ericson Library, of Boone, IA, with artist at work

They loan Wilton cake pans!

1901 building which was enlarged in 1923 and 1993. The citizens voted for a one-cent local option sales tax to accomplish the latter. (Information on library web site no longer accessible to me.)

So, shop Boone!

Ericson Library, of Boone, IA

(L) Lousy postcard with a surpringly clear image of the Italianate building. I believe it was made by C.U. Williams.

It was mailed in 1910.

Burlington, IA public library, vertically oriented to accomodate a bell tower.

(L) S.H. Knox card, mailed in 1911.
(R) Published by the Ingersoll News Agency of Burlington.

Burlington, IA public library

Built between 1896 and 1898. The original library building is still standing and is in use as the Des Moines County Historical Museum.

Centerville (Drake Public Library)
Drake Public Library, Centerville, IA

(L) Albertype brand card made for the City Book Store.
(R) Unknown publisher.


No, that's neither a Doughboy helmet nor a UFO landing on top of the library.
The woman who mailed the right hand in 1910 was fairly aware of the card's shortcomings. She commented,
'This does not do justice to building but thought I would send any way ...'


Drake Public Library, Centerville, IA

Gift of a former Iowa governor, built by J.W. Sanderson, and dedicated in 1903, per the library's history page. The 1903 library is still in use. In the recent photo on the Library's site, the dome is silver.

Clarion (Morgan Everts Library)

Surprisingly, this is not listed as a Carnegie building, even though it appears to conform to the supposedly standard plan. Even the Library's web site mentions the resemblance. Builder F. F. McManus seemed to lack a certain spark of originality.

Morgan Everts public library, Clarion, IA

(L) This card has an unevenly divided back, therefore dating between 1907 and 1911. Its publisher is unknown.

(R) Card by O.H. Peck. I'm assuming that the photo vignette is of Mr. Everts. He deserves one.

Morgan Everts public library, Clarion, IA, with oval portrait of a man.
Creston (Matilda J. Gibson Memorial Library)
Matilda J. Gibson Memorial Library, of Creston, IA

(L) L.L. Cook photo card revealing Matilda J. Gibson Memorial Library incised over the doorway.
(R) 1934 Curt Teich card.

Creston, IA public library

Still in use after remodeling.


This is the replacement for the Carnegie building, which was demolished in 1966, due to its shifting and settling. It was opened in 1968, and is still in use.

I assume somebody studied hydrogeology in the intervening years.

Dexter Press postcard printed for Dunlap Postcard of Omaha.

Davenport, IA's second public library
Des Moines
Des Moines, IA public library

Reading the Roman numerals on the left-hand card would lead you to believe the Des Moines library was founded in 1804 and built in 1900. I'd believe the latter.


(R) RPPC dated 1939. However, since it seems to be in ballpoint, I don't think it's contemporaneous with the photograph.

Des Moines, IA public library

Closed February 4, 2006: the Library moved on April 8 to its new building.

The old building has been repurposed as the World Food Prize Foundation Hall of Laureates.

Forest City

The Library's history page appears to have stopped with 1899. I don't think the building shown is quite that old.


Photo postcard is likely by L.L. Cook, and was mailed in 1943.

Forest City, IA public library, likely dating to ca. 1920.
Grinnell (Stewart Library)

Along with Muscatine and Sioux City, this is one of the few Romanesque libraries in Iowa. (One could debate whether Anamosa's public library was Romanesque.) The library was formed in 1894 and the building finished in 1902. The Library's web site stated (no longer found) that Carnegie buildings were visited by Joel Stewart before construction began, but from the outside, this just looks nothing like a Carnegie building.

Stewart Library, of Grinnell, IA

Perhaps this is why the building so sorely needed replacement. (Note: Grinnell College is still using its Carnegie building, albeit no longer as a library.) Its 1976 listing on the National Register of Historic Places certainly makes expansion difficult. The Drake Community Library replaced it in 2009.
I hope that the Grinnellian powers that be find a new use for the Stewart building.

Harlan (H.H. Paup Free Public Library)
H.H. Paup Free Public Library building, Harlan, IA

(L) Probably the newer of the two cards.
(R) The stamp box of this photo card has the initials DOPS. Actually, both cards show this.

H.H. Paup Free Public Library building, Harlan, IA

According to v. 47 of Library Journal, Paup gave $20,000 on the proviso that the library paid him 5% interest for life, plus raise $1,000 each year for library maintenance and support. The building was built in 1924.
No longer in use, but appears to be standing in good repair.

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