Established in 1896, the Waterloo Public Library began in two rented rooms, one on each side of the Cedar River. Controversy followed Andrew Carnegie’s $30,000 donation for a new library facility, as residents on each side of the river wanted the new facility. Carnegie learned of the feud, and increased his donation to $40,000, enough to allow separate libraries to be constructed. The separate libraries operated for seventy years before moving to a new single location in 1979. The pictured west side location has been well-maintained and is now home to a local law firm.
A public library was first established in the small Wapello County, Iowa, community of Eldon in 1906, when a private group raised sufficient funds to rent a second-story room above a downtown local business. Within two years, a formal library association had been incorporated under state laws and recurring financial support of the library was transferred to the city. By 1911, efforts began to secure a Carnegie library grant for construction of a permanent library building.
A $7,500 grant was awarded and construction began in 1912. The new library opened and was dedicated in May 1913, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The Eldon Public Library is open six days weekly.
The Rockwell City Public Library vacated its 100-year-old Carnegie Library location in favor of a new shared Library and Community Center building in August 2008. The modern $2.6 million facility provided substantially more square footage for books and technology, handicapped accessibility, increased natural lighting, and more. Fortunately, the former library did not stay vacant long, as local entrepreneurs Randy and Cindy Patterson purchased the building from the city in 2009. They’ve repurposed the space into a seasonal antique and gift shop; for info, call (712) 887-0621.
The Public Library in Bedford, Iowa, sits one block west of the previously featured Taylor County Courthouse. Bedford was one of 99 communities in the state to receive a grant for a public library from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The library was dedicated and opened in 1915 at a cost of $10,000. Its exterior remains much the same today as it was at time of construction, featuring stucco with a red brick trim and red clay roof. Visitors will find two fireplaces and dark pine woodwork inside the library, which is open daily except Sundays.
The Carnegie Library building in Montezuma sits on the southwest corner of the square and is occupied by the Poweshiek County Historical and Genealogical Society. The Society took advantage of the opportunity to relocate the the historic building when the community’s Public Library moved to a new, modern facility in 2005. The library was the next-to-last to be granted by Carnegie in the state of Iowa. The library was dedicated in 1919.