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History of the Iowa City Public Library

The Library has stood in the heart of downtown Iowa City for more than a century. But as the community grew, so did the Library, and there was a need over time to move into progressively larger spaces to house the collections. A wealth of photographs showing the history of the Library are available on the Library's Digital History Project.

visit the Library's Digital History Project



The first ICPL was on the second floor of the C.O.D. Steam Laundry building at 211 Iowa Ave. opening its doors on Thursday January 21, 1897.


The second location for the ICPL was at 212 East College Street in the Cannon & Pratt building opening in June of 1901.


The Carnegie Library at 212 South Linn Street opened its doors on Thursday, October 27, 1904.


An addition was built onto the Carnegie building and dedicated on Sunday, November 10, 1963.


The ICPL at 123 South Linn Street opened its doors to the public on June 14, 1981 after hundreds of volunteers moved all of the library materials across the street.


After more than two years of construction the doors opened to the new building June 12, 2004.


The Iowa City Public Library remains at 123 South Linn Street.

Read the History

You can learn more about the Library by reading A Century of Stories: The History of the Iowa City Public Library, 1896-1997 by Lolly P. Eggers.

More Iowa City History

Historical Readings about Iowa City

View the text of historical readings done during Iowa City's 175th anniversary in December of 2014.

Read more about Iowa City History

The Library has a variety of books and videos about Iowa City History available in the collections. Some select picks are below.