Library History



The citizens of Indianola overwhelmingly approved a tax to support a public library, making Indianola one of the first cities in the state to do so.  A private reading club donated its collection, and in June of 1884, the library opened its doors to the public.  The library occupied two rooms above a hardware store on the northwest corner of the square and boasted 575 books in its collection.


Until 1889, residents had to pay an annual subscription of $1.50 to check out books.  These subscription fees were eliminated, and the library became truly free to all city residents. 

1894 Library in Banking Bldg

The library moved into rented space in the top story of the Indianola Banking Company building.

It was also in this year that Library Director Hannah Babb began reclassifying the entire collection using a new library system she saw on display at the Chicago's Worlds Fair: the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

1904  Indianola Public Library

After moving several times to new locations around the square, Indianola was ready for a more permanent space. The library board reached out to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1902 for funds to build a new structure. In their application, they stressed Indianola's economic potential and the value residents placed on their library.

It worked: Indianola secured a $10,000 grant to build a Carnegie Library. An additional $2,000 was granted later to finish the basement. The opening ceremony is held May 31, 1904.


To alleviate overcrowding, the children's reading room was moved to the basement in what was previously a community meeting room. 

1980 IPL1970s

What was once a spacious library now struggled to serve the community as Indianola's population grew from 3,045 in 1904 to 10,822 by 1980. During that time span, the number of books in the library had more than tripled.


After a vigorous fundraising campaign that raised almost $800,000, the new library building at 207 North B. St was completed.  


A small section of the library's north room was remodeled to accommodate staff workspaces.  


In 2002, one of the two community meeting rooms was converted into a dedicated space for children’s programming.