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CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY. The Carnegie-Stout Public Library is a local landmark funded in part by Andrew CARNEGIE. It was placed on the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES on August 1, 1975.

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. The library was relocated to the back of Gilbert's Book Store. W. J. Gilbert, owner of the store, was the first librarian.

In 1859 the lecture committee reorganized as the Young Men's Literary Association of Dubuque. This group 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.

Interest in establishing a free library grew during the 1890s. 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. (1) In response, Frank D. STOUT donated three lots on the corner of 11th and Bluff STREETS. (2) 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. (3)

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. (4) In January, 1902 the library's board of directors was advised that Andrew Carnegie had increased his donation another $10,000. (5) 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. (6)

Commemorative paperweight. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Image courtesy: Mike Day. Kendall C. Day family collection.
In the summer of 1981 a new wing was designed by architect Charles Kurt of the Durrant Group, was opened to the public. The addition used limestone facing similar in appearance to the original building and allowed increased use of the library by the public. The additional space increased the capacity of the library by approximately 188,000 volumes.

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).

At the end of 2009 there were 31,535 projects registered with USGBC. Of these there were three libraries that had achieved LEED-Existing Building status. Carnegie-Stout Public Library was the first public library in the Mid-West to achieve this status and the first public library in the United States to achieve this designation while also being on the National Register of Historic Places.

The library’s Grand Opening was September 16 – 19, 2010.



1. "The New Library," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, p. 3

2. "He Won't Appoint," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, February 5, 1901, p. 3

3. "The New Library

4. "Name Architect," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, p. 3

5. "Adds to His Gift," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 2, 1902, p. 1

6. "Local Library is Now the Holder of Two Records," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 3, 1931

Dubuque 2.0. "Carnegie-Stout Public Library - Making History Being Historic and Sustainable." online

Dubuque Carnegie-Stout Public Library, IA. Homepage

Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/franklin-t-oldt/history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl/page-9-history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl.shtml