On May 15, 1901, Clinton Mayor George D. McDaid wrote to the Andrew Carnegie Foundation requesting funds for a new library building to be constructed in the eastern Iowa community. The result was a $45,000 grant provided the city provided land for the library and the annual budget was not less than 10% of the grant amount. Ground was broken for the new building on June 24, 1903, and the library opened to the public on November 9 the following year. More than 5,400 books were checked out in the library’s first month of operation.
In 2005, the group Preservation Iowa added the Clinton Public Library to its list of the state’s most endangered buildings as the city was considering building a new library facility at that time. A proposal in 2010 to allocate up to $10 million in bonds to construct a new library at a former elementary school site was soundly defeated. In December, the Library Board president told the Clinton Herald plans to renovate or move the library had been tabled for the immediate future.