Whether you’re looking to volunteer at a community event or just want to check out your favorite book, a library is an excellent place. The libraries of Iowa truly go above and beyond. From community classes to technology zones to dedicated children’s reading areas, the best libraries of Iowa are committed to their communities. Here are our favorites.
Located within the gold-domed State Capital of Des Moines, the State Law Library holds a dense collection of law and legislation materials amongst grand surroundings. While much of the work found at the State Law Library might be a little dense for a casual read, the brilliant construction, and aesthetics of this library make it worth checking out. Spiral staircases lead to each floor of well-lit bookshelves, and the overall air of intellectualism can make anyone feel smarter who walks into this decadent study space.
Well before becoming the 31sts President of the United States, Herbert Hoover was born in the small town of West Branch in 1874. Today, you can drive on the Highways that Herbert Hoover helped implement, and see Hoover’s birthplace, learn about his career in politics and visit the Presidential Library. This library isn’t your typical rent-a-book and log onto the internet library, and instead provides an invaluable resource and archives about Hoover’s legacy as a person, Iowan and political figure.
The Cedar Rapids Public Library located downtown is much more than just a brick-and-mortar place to get books. A symbol of innovate architecture and design, the Cedar Rapids Public Library extends into the community with events, education and civic involvement. Throughout the sprawling space that is the library, patrons can find technology centers, kid friendly zones, and yes, a large selection of books.
Built in 1901 with aid from Andrew Carnegie, the Carnegie-Stout Public Library of Dubuque now stands proudly as City Designated Landmark and imbues a rich sense of academia throughout. Elegantly designed with ornate copper railings, marble floorings and oak woodworks, the Carnegie-Stout Public Library imbues a sense of what a library should feel like. Once inside, patrons are encouraged to check out the collections and facilities, including a Makerspace for bigger projects, a Kid Zone to keep the younger ones engaged and a digital library that rivals their paper collection.
If you are looking to expand your knowledge in Pella, the Pella Public Library has everything you need. A dense collection of reading materials, a growing digital archive and a long list of events and workshops, top all that with a quiet study space and hours of education can be found within the walls of this public library. If you want to tap into a large selection of audiobooks to rent, Pella Public Library can help you load up your device with enough reading materials for the year.
Originally conceived in 1884, the Masonic Library and Museum of Cedar Rapids is well reputed as one of the best facilities in the world to conduct Masonic research. This unique collection of reading materials has an estimated 150,000 Masonic books to check out and is supplemented by other research materials concerning Iowa law, culture and history. Also at the Masonic Library and Museum, different exhibits and displays outline more information about this society and culture.
Featuring over 200,000 rare collection materials including manuscripts, cook-books and records, the University of Iowa Special Collections & Archives contains many treasures you’d never find anywhere else in the state or the world. Located on the third floor of the University of Iowa’s Main Library, the Special Collections & Archives is open to the public, though many items cannot be checked out of the facility.
Located close to the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Garden in downtown Des Moines, besides being a beautiful space, the Des Moines Public Library provides an important cultural aspect to the metro. Featuring thousands of multimedia items to check out, the Des Moines Public Library also hosts an array of public events and workshops that lend to increased cultural capital and community involvement. Writer’s workshops, film series and Lego Fridays for the young ones, the Des Moines Public Library caters towards everyone who wants to learn.
The Council Bluffs Public Library encourages you to discover something new seven days of the week. Between their massive catalogue of books, magazines, music, DVDs and other multimedia items available to rent, the Council Bluffs Public Library also provides extensive programs, events and unique workspaces. Check out the Tech Lab while you are there, or peruse the lengthy archives compiled by the staff or check out a featured event, whatever you do, it all comes with your free library card.
With a gorgeous interior and exterior, furnished in a classic library fashion, it’s not the books and multimedia for loan that makes the Hampton Public Library one of the best in the state. It’s the extensive list of services offered by this public space that make it a staple in the community. Computers and wi-fi, children’s story time, summer reading programs and even genealogy information, all these services and more make the Hampton Public Library an import cultural asset in this Iowa town.