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Library History

Read how this library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.

A Brief History of the Library in Guthrie Center

In December of 1902 a group of 15 women, who were known as the Woman’s Club, organized “The Reading Room” which would eventually be known as the library.  It was overseen by “The Management Board” which became the Library Board of Trustees.  The Reading Room was housed in the upstairs of a building at Fourth and State Streets at the beginning, but moved numerous times. 

In 1917 the library was closed due to World War I but reopened in 1925.  In that year, the women went to the City Council to ask them to improve the city hall.  The Council agreed to do that if the Woman’s Club would agree to place their books there.  The Woman’s Club stepped up to the challenge and the city even offered them some help.  The women continued to work on improving their library until 1936 when the City Council arranged for the WPA to build a new City Hall with the library to be housed in the main part of the building.

In July of 1937 the Woman’s Club moved in to the new building with the help of many children and their little red wagons.  In 1946 the city ordinance No. 144 was passed authorizing a tax levy, not to exceed two million, for the support of a free public library.

During 1960 a card catalog was purchased and all 8,244 books were cataloged. By 1961 the Libraries of Guthrie County formed the Guthrie County Libraries Association and began receiving an appropriation from the County Board of Supervisors in order to provide free service to the rural population of the county.  The circulation system was put on computer in 1994 which eliminated the old card catalog.

By 1990 the library had grown so significantly that various solutions were investigated to allow for the increasing technology need as well as the volumes of material housed in the building.  Many solutions were reviewed, but after years of fund raising, a ground breaking was held in 1998 at the present site on Grand, right across from the Guthrie County Court House on Highway 25.

 In 2000, more children with red wagons as well as shopping carts moved around 28,000 volumes in to the new facility that tripled the space of the library.  At that time the library owned 3 computers.  In 2007 there are 19 computers for public as well as staff.  The new facility, as well as the efforts of library board and staff, has allowed the library to become certified by the State Library of Iowa.