Library History

Carnegie Libraries in Iowa Project


Estherville Public Library Dateline

January 18,1871 First meeting of The Progressive Society and Library Association
February 23, 1880 Monday Club was formed
1881 City of Estherville was Incorporated
April 17, 1882 Monday Club voted to start a library with a collection of their own books
1882-1902 First Library:  Warren Barber Home (where Middle School now stands).  Mrs. Barber served as Librarian.

Second Library:  Bemis Store (where the Post Office now stands).

Third Library:  Dr. McMillan's Office (where the City Offices are now located).

Fourth Library:  Second floor of Coon Block (above what is now Don Jose's Restaurant).

The question of a suitable building for housing the library was expressed in 1897 (and had been brewing for several years prior).

Ordinance No. 120 of the City of Estherville, approved on February 6, 1897, and signed by E.E. Hartung, Mayor, and N.B. Egbert, Citiy Clerk, authorized the submission of the question of levying an eight cent tax for the support of the library to the voters at the next general municipal election.  This was done and the voters, by a small majority, decided in favor of the tax.  This election was held in March, 1897.  However, on Tuesday evening, June 8, 1897, the trustees decided to close the library because of lack of funds.  All books were called in by June 15, 1897.  The special tax became available April 1, 1899, and the library resumed business.

W.P. Ward, City Supervisor, corresponded with Andrew Carnegie in regard to a gift for a Library building in Estherville.  Mayor Hartung received a letter from Carnegie stating he would give $10,000 to the city with the understanding that the city furnish a site and pledge $1,000 annually for its support.
1903 Carnegie building was completed and occupied by Fall.  First official Librarian:  Sade Davidson.
1904 Volumes:  2,941
Budget:  $2,091
Circulation:  14,702
Registered Borrowers:  1,095
1905 Volumes:  3,364
Budget:  $2,458
Circulation:  13,770
Registered Borrowers:  430
1915 Volumes:  7,276
Budget:  $2,045
Circulation:  16,600
Registered Borrowers:  410
1917 Taxes approved for addition to balcony.
1921 Lucile Peterson became Librarian.  The first redecorating took place.
1925 Volumes:  11,500
Budget:  $4,200
Circulation:  40,600
Registered Borrowers:  2,400
1935 Volumes:  13,965
Budget:  $1,956
Circulation:  52,377
Registered Borrowers:  3,150
1940 Complete redecoration, new lighting system, and rewiring of building.

Volumes:  14,252
Budget:  $2,250
Circulation:  34,529
Registered Borrowers:  3,465
1950 Volumes:  17,320
Budget:  $6,500
Circulation:  28,074
Registered Borrowers:  3,073
1957 First Children's Librarian: Maye Case.
1960 Estherville Public Library became affiliated with the State Library of Iowa.

Volumes:  24,290
Budget:  $22,800
Circulation:  53,304
Registered Borrowers:  3,943
1963 June 1st, Lucile Peterson retired after 42 years.  Ethel Lyman was appointed Librarian.
1969 County approved Library support.
1970 Estherville Public Library joined Siouxland Co-operative.  Later Siouxland changed to War Eagle Co-operative. 

A Large Print collection was introduced.

Rural town support was received.

Volumes:  31,253
Budget:  $39,087
Circulation:  78,527
Registered Borrowers:  4,798
1971 Bond referendum for a new building defeated by 81% .

Ethel Lyman retired.  Christine Anderson was hired as the new Director.
1972 Christine Anderson resigned and Carolyn Walz was named Acting Director.
1975 Carolyn Walz appointed Director.
1976 Air conditioning installed.

Purchase of first microfilm machine (made possible with donations from local service clubs).
1979 Redecorated Library:  paint, paper and carpet.
1980 Water blasted, sand blasted, tuck-pointed, mortar and caulked the outside of the Library.

Volumes:  54,279
Budget:  $80,595
Circulation:  105,578
Registered Borrowers:  9,280
1990 Volumes:  63,523
Budget:  $152,025
Circulation:  93,942
Registered Borrowers:  10,522
1991 Feasibility Study of the library.
1992 Bond Referendum passed by 81%
1993 Capital Campaign for Fundraising

October 30, 1993 Closed Carnegie building.

November 8, 1993 Opened temporary location.
1994 April 4, 1994 Groundbreaking Ceremony for new addition.
September 1995 Volumes to date:  55,430
Budget:  $188,110
Circulation to date:  41,105
Registered Borrowers to date:  10,798
November 5, 1995 Grand Opening of newly expanded facility.
November 28, 2011 Tena Sunde hired as Director.  Carolyn Walz retired January 7, 2012 after 50 years (36 as Director).
2012 EPL becomes a fine free library.
2013 EPL Director Sunde elected President of national Association for Rural & Small Libraries.
2017 EPL chosen as one of 75 in the nation to become a NASA @ My Library partner.
2023 Community Room renovation completed, adding over 300 square feet and a full kitchen.  The Friends of the EPL successfully raised over $216,000 in grants and donations towards the project.