The Indianola Public Library history can be traced to 1882, when a local Enterprise Club was formed to raise funds for a new town library. Voters approved giving tax dollars to the library organization in an 1884 election, and the Indianola Public Library officially opened June 27, 1884, in the second story of a hardware store on the town square. The pictured library building was dedicated in 1904, constructed from a $10,000 grant provided by the Carnegie Foundation. The building served the community until 1984, when $900,000 was raised by the community and a new library building was constructed. The Carnegie-funded building now serves as the offices for the Des Moines Metro Opera.
The historic Ottumwa Public Library sits on the west side of the community’s Central Park. Constructed at a cost of $50,000, the Bedford limestone building opened to the public on September 24, 1902. Ottumwa was the third community in Iowa to receive a library grant from Andrew Carnegie; the two prior grants were awarded to Fairfield and Davenport in 1892 and 1899 respectively.
The 110-year-old building continues to serve the community of Ottumwa, and the library recently underwent a quarter-million dollar in renovations, including new flooring, furniture, and computer space on the main floor. Two unique attractions can be found inside the historic library: an original Grant Wood painting (Tame Flowers) and 13 Babylonian small clay tablets, which are roughly 4,000 years old and donated to the library in 1927. The Ottumwa Public Library is open Monday through Saturday.
On November 5, 1892, the Colfax City Council voted to allow the west room of the second story of the new City Hall building to be used for a public library. On December 16 that year, a meeting was called and the public library association was officially organized. By July 21, 1893, the Library was formally dedicated, and in 1902, the library board began correspondence with Andrew Carnegie to receive money for a new library building. In 1904, a $6,500 grant for a new library was approved and the community began deliberation before work was started.
Lots were purchased for $2,300 on January 12, 1912, and the cornerstone was officially laid October 15, 1912. The new library was completed on March 24, 1913, and dedication ceremonies were held May 14, 1913. The historic building has been well-preserved, with only a handful of changes made since the library opened. In 1915, the library’s annual budget was $1,152.
Successful businessman Eugene S. Ellsworth contributed much of his wealth toward the advancement of the Hardin County community of Iowa Falls. Beginning with the construction of a magnificent opera house in 1899, Ellsworth spent the final eight years of his life improving the community. His credits included major contributions to the 1902 hospital building, the establishment of Ellsworth (Community) College, and a land donation for the construction of the Carnegie-Ellsworth Public Library in 1902.
Additional funds for the library were received in 1903, when Carnegie awarded the community of Iowa Falls with a $10,000 grant. Now home to the city Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, and Development organizations, the library was one of the more elaborate of its size and type and features a number of distinctive architectural features. The Iowa Falls Public Library is now located in a modern, 15,000-square-foot building located along the Iowa River, a few blocks southwest of the Carnegie location.
Yesterday, the West Carnegie Library Building in the Black Hawk County seat of Waterloo was featured as the Iowa Backroads Daily Photo. Of the 99 cities to receive Carnegie library grants, Waterloo was the only city to receive funds for two full separate buildings. The east library was located in this building from 1906 to 1979; it now houses city offices.