Reading Adventure #2 takes me up in the N.W. corner of Iowa, close to the borders of Minnesota and South Dakota respectively. In the little town of Sibley, they have a small piece of literary history, especially with libraries.

A little tidbit on library history…if you ever get a chance to research or be around a Carnegie Library, do it. It’s an interesting bit of history following literary roots with the passion of Multi-Millionaire Andrew Carnegie wanting to GIVE his mass-millions away in the form of libraries, concert halls and other things surrounding the arts.

The Carnegie Library history is astounding, and in the state of Iowa alone, there were approximately 101 libraries that were built and today 55 still remain, and 38 are museums, offices, apartments or other venues, and about 9 were demolished or razed.

If you are a current community and you were able to hold onto this piece of history, count yourself lucky. The architecture alone makes the historical buildings worth noting.

I plan to visit as many of these standing libraries as possible and blog them here, but for this blog post, I highlight the Carnegie Library in Sibley, Iowa. 

sibley7  sibley

Below is a little piece was written about the history of the creation of the Sibley Library.

“In 1874, a Library Association was formed.  To join, a member had to pay either a dollar or donate books worth that amount.  The books were kept in the County Recorder’s Office.  In 1895 a meeting was held to discuss plans to start a library with a reading room. It was decided to purchase as many good books and periodicals as possible as well as hire a caretaker.  This was all to be done at a cost not to exceed $500.  In 1908, it was proposed that GAR Memorial Hall be turned over to the city for use as a library.  With the support of 600 people, a basket supper was held to raise the initial funds.  The Board of Trustees of the Sibley Public Library leased the GAR Memorial Hall for a term of 76 years at the rental of $1.00 a year.  The Trustees were to keep the hall in repair and to allow the Post and Relief Corps to use the building for their meetings.

In 1915, a new library was assured because of a Carnegie grant of $10,000.  Harris L. Emmert, Sibley’s first banks, and land company owner donated the site.  The Sibley Public Library was dedicated on December 11, 1917.” 

-Sibley Public Library Information





Today the Sibley Carnegie Library looks like the above picture. Many of the structures today are facing changes with space issues, handicapped accessibility, heating and cooling and other construction issues and cost of up keep. So, if the communities that have these historical libraries have KEPT these building (regardless if libraries or not) it’s quite the accomplishment of the people involved.

Below are a few more pictures of the Sibley Library from the inside, Past and Present



The history of Iowa in the full scope of the Andrew Carnegie Corporation’s Library gift is quite fascinating. Iowa ranked 4th in the nation for the number of grants received and ranked 6th in the number of libraries built totaling $1,495,706 for 101 libraries in 99 communities. The years of the Carnegie grants (1892-1917) were considered for some of the “library golden age” and known as years of massive library expansion. Historically, especially in Iowa, there were many contributing factors in this, including progressive state legislation for the establishment of libraries through taxation, and suffrage for women. The organizations behind the work for acquiring the grants and the land to get funding for the libraries were often led by women.

The history for each library naturally is unique, but I will leave this posting with this…if you have one of these libraries in your community, consider it a gold mine. Learn about its history, and keep them around. It’s a little piece of history worth having in the community.

Happy Reading!


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