The first record of a library in the Cerro Gordo County town of Swaledale comes from a newspaper article dated November 7, 1923. Mrs. William Leonard, president of the local Parent-Teacher Association, led the effort to establish a library, which officially opened the following Saturday, November 10. It was housed within a local general store with an initial collection of 75 books.
The current incarnation of the library dates to March 1973, when a meeting was held to formally organize a community-supported public library. The library opened officially opened on June 29, 1973. It was moved to its present location in 1975, with an addition completed in June 1980. Open five days each week, the Swaledale Public Library is run by librarian Nancy Watt.