An Architectural and Historical Survey of Public Libraries in Iowa 1870-1940, 1980

(1980) An Architectural and Historical Survey of Public Libraries in Iowa 1870-1940, 1980. Cultural Affairs, Department of


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The public library movement f the early twentieth century was a national phenomenon, in which Iowa, along with its neighboring states, played a prominent role. In 1900, the Iowa Library Commission noted 48 free public libraries in the state. Today there are approximately 500, in towns ranging in size from Beaman, with a population of 222, the Des Moines, the state capitol. Iowans took enthusiastic advantage of Andre Carnegie's library philanthropy. In 1919, the Carnegie Corporation stopped funding libraries, 101 building has been erected in Iowa with Carnegie funds. Iowa place fourth among the states in terms of the number of communities obtaining Carnegie buildings, fifth in dollar appropriation per one hundred population and eighth in the total amount of money given by Carnegie to a state. These figures provide some measure by which interest in popular education among Iowans of the period can be judged. Today these early libraries, often the most distinctive public libraries in small or medium-sized towns, are physical foci in the townscapes of their communities and centers for a variety of educational and social activities. This survey was initiated by the Division of Historic Preservation in 1977. It grew out of the need to provide a framework within which libraries could be evaluated for National Register action. Several libraries (Des Moines, Grinnell, Eagle Grove, Carroll) has been recent candidates for the Register. There was every indication that enthusiasm for old library buildings was increasing and that more nominations could be expected in the future. The attrition rate among early library buildings was (and is) growing. Most libraries were built on limited budgets (Carnegie did not squander his money) and, despite the fact that future expansion was usually a conscious consideration in their design, they are rapidly becoming obsolete, due to expanding collections and changing styles of librarianship. If the protection of the threatened with demolition or alteration, action needed to be taken.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Libraries, Carnegie, Carnegie Libraries, Architectural
Subjects: Information management and resources > Information resources > Libraries and archives
History and culture > History of Iowa
History and culture > Landmarks
ID Code: 11332
Deposited By: Margaret Barr
Deposited On: 10 Aug 2011 19:21
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2011 19:21