CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY
Early efforts at offering library services included that of R. Spaulding. a book seller, music dealer and generally a patron of art. His book store was the first in Dubuque. Early in 1848 Spaulding established and maintained a library of standard periodical literature, to which persons were admitted upon the payment of $3 per annum.
One of the first attempts to establish a library came through the DUBUQUE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, a group of young professionals and businessmen formed to bring a lecture course to Dubuque. At the same time, J. S. Blatchley, an attorney, made his one hundred fifty-volume library available to anyone for a fee of five dollars.
Funds from the lectures, first given in 1857-1858, were used to purchase additional books. By 1859, with the donation by the Blatchley library to the lecture committee, the number of volumes reached four hundred.
In 1859 the lecture committee reorganized as the Young Men's Literary Association of Dubuque. Active in providing books for the library, the group in November 1863 established a goal of acquiring ten books daily for a month. Membership was available for $1.50 per year. (1)
In March of 1864 the firm of GILBERT AND TAYLOR'S renovated a room over their store to house the Law Library and the books obtained by the Young Men's Literary Association. The 55' x 16' room was supplied with shelves and tables and a partition allowed the two libraries to be housed in "separate apartments." A large collection of minerals were on display and the entire room was lighted with gas until 8:00 p.m. each evening. (2) W. J. Gilbert, owner of the store, was the first librarian.
It was a common feature of the newspapers to carry the names of new volumes added to the library. (3)
Today's Additions.--The following are the additions to be made to the library today: Abbott's Napoleon, 2 vols; Amber Gods, two copies; Wing and Wing by Cooper; Western Annals; Mysteries of Paris; Goldsmith's Works; Swiss Family Robinson, two copies
In November 1865 the Dubuque Herald announced that a movement was underway to raise $5,000.00 for the purchase of books, relocate the library to a room of its own, and hire a person to attend it. The newspaper was in support of relocating the library to a site of its own. As it existed in a business, patrons felt they "acting very mean if they did not purchase something" as they left. (4) Checked out books were called in prior to the library being moved to the Julien Hall building. A new catalog of books were "classified and arranged for ready reference, was published. (5) In January 1866 the Young Men's Library Association gave B. M. HARGER an order for $4,000 worth of books. (6)
Financial support of the Association in its work included entertainment in the homes of sponsors. On January 16, 1874 the first of these evenings was planned for the home of Alonzo J. VAN DUZEE. "The best music will be provided for dancing and a jam up supper. The price of admission, $1.50 per couple." (7) The second of these evenings of entertainment was held in the home of S. S. WEMOTT on January 27, 1874. (8)
Interest in establishing a free library grew during the 1890s. The Young Men's Literary Association maintained the library until 1901. In 1893 the books were moved to the ODD FELLOWS TEMPLE when the collection had grown to fourteen thousand volumes. After this relocation, the collection was cataloged according to the Dewey Decimal System. The library, while open to the public, was not municipally owned or free.
Andrew Carnegie, a person familiar with Dubuque, agreed to endow the city with a $50,000 building provided a lot could be found on which to build. (9) In response, Frank D. STOUT donated three lots on the corner of 11th and Bluff STREETS. (10) A donation of $15,000 for the new building and $10,000 for new books was given by the Young Men's Literary Association. In March, questions were already being asked as to when the public would be able to have access. Jacob RICH, president of the board of directors, reminded citizens that the board of directors would not even be receiving funds from the city until January. (11)
Construction did, however, begin in October 1901. The architect chosen was W. G. Williamson of Chicago. Williamson had been the architect of the BANK AND INSURANCE BUILDING, the JULIEN HOUSE, and the mansion of Henry L. STOUT. (12) In January, 1902 the library's board of directors was advised that Andrew Carnegie had increased his donation another $10,000. (13) The library was opened to the public on October 20, 1902. In 1929 the library exceeded every other city in the United States in the number of volumes (41,268) circulated per assistant. The next highest was just over 35,000. The second record did not bring pride. Dubuque ranked as the lowest payer of library assistants in the United States--thirty-four cents per hour. (14)
In 2010 a $6.5 million renovation to the library was completed. The City of Dubuque was the single largest donor by committing to half the cost. The State of Iowa made a grant award of $250,000 from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs when Dubuque was named an Iowa Great Place in 2006. The private sector contributed to the remainder.
Planning for the Library’s second renovation began in 2000 and was actually started in December of 2008. The library brought aesthetics, function, and sustainability together and became the first City of Dubuque building to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The library’s Grand Opening was September 16 – 19, 2010.
In 2016 the library's Board of Trustees rejected an unsolicited offer of $6 million for Grant Wood's painting "Appraisal." That piece and Grant Wood's "Victorian Survival" were purchased in the early 1930s for $1,150 using funds from a bequest to the library for the purpose of purchasing art. Both paintings in 2016 were on loan and were exhibited in the DUBUQUE MUSEUM OF ART. (15)
1. "Additions to the Young Men's Library," Dubuque Democratic Herald, November 1, 1863, p. 4, Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=A36e8EsbUSoC&dat=18631101&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
2. "Library Improvement," Dubuque Democratic Herald, March 5, 1864, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=A36e8EsbUSoC&dat=18640305&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
3. "Today's Addition," Dubuque Democratic Herald, November 5, 1863, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=A36e8EsbUSoC&dat=18631105&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
4. "The Public Library," Dubuque Herald, November 19, 1865, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18651119&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
5. "Young Men's Library," Dubuque Herald, January 7, 1865, p. 4.https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18660107&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
6. "Library Association," Dubuque Herald, January 27, 1866, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18660127&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
7. "For the Benefit of the Library," Dubuque Herald, January 11, 1874, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18740111&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
8. "Library Association Hop," Dubuque Herald, January 24, 1874, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18740124&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
9. "The New Library," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, p. 3
10. "He Won't Appoint," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, February 5, 1901, p. 3
11. "The New Library
12. "Name Architect," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, p. 3
13. "Adds to His Gift," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 2, 1902, p. 1
14. "Local Library is Now the Holder of Two Records," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 3, 1931
15. Barton, Thomas J. "No 'Appraisal' Worth Losing Wood's Works," Telegraph Herald, January 24, 2016, p. 17A
Dubuque 2.0. "Carnegie-Stout Public Library - Making History Being Historic and Sustainable." online
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