Sibley Public Library History

Below is a history of how the Sibley Public Library has changed over the years.

In 1874, a Library Association was formed. To join, a member had to pay either a dollar or donate books worth that amount. The books were kept in the County Recorder’s Office. 

In 1895 a meeting was held to discuss plans to start a library with a reading room. It was decided to purchase as many good books and periodicals as possible as well as hire a caretaker. This was all to be done at a cost not to exceed $500. 

In 1908, it was proposed that GAR Memorial Hall be turned over to the city for use as a library. With the support of 600 people, a basket supper was held to raise the initial funds. The Board of Trustees of the Sibley Public Library leased the GAR Memorial Hall for a term of 76 years at the rental of $1.00 a year. The Trustees were to keep the hall in repair and to allow the Post and Relief Corps to use the building for their meetings.

In 1915, a new library was assured because of a Carnegie grant of $10,000. Harris L. Emmert, Sibley’s first banker and land company owner, donated the site. 

The Sibley Public Library was dedicated on December 11, 1917. The dedication program was held in the opera house and was followed by a reception in the new library building. 

In 1978, blueprints for an addition to the library were drawn up. When the Sibley Middle School was destroyed by fire on December 7, 1978, the Board of Trustees realized the community couldn’t pay for both rebuilding the school and a library addition and the plans were postponed. 

In 1981, the Friends of the Sibley Public Library was first organized to promote, improve and expand library services. In 1983, the bond issue for the library addition and renovation project passed in November. A $40,000 gift for furnishings was received from the Kinney Lindstrom Foundation. With the backing of the community, the project was completed in the summer of 1985. This addition features a public meeting room, with a kitchenette, a genealogy room, and a large children’s activity room. The dedication was held on September 28, 1985.

In 2008, the Sibley City Council approved bond money of $180,000 for the library to make improvements to the library. In April 2009, the library was closed for three weeks and everything was removed from the library. A local businessman stored everything in several semi trucks and before the start of the project, an auction was held in the library. Then the library was painted, the carpet installed, and new furnishings purchased and installed. Everything was rearranged to make a bright new space that is very welcoming to the community. An open house was held in August 2009.

In 2017, the Sibley Public Library celebrated its 100th Anniversary with events throughout the entire year. There was a Program and Party on Thursday, August 17, 2017, and a dedication of the Centennial Garden which was planted in the spring of 2017 on the north side of the library. The garden includes many native Iowa plants and flowers, a cobblestone area with benches, and a rock noting the Centennial Garden dates.

Want to see more Iowa Carnegie Libraries? Visit Carnegie Libraries in Iowa Project.


carnegie library image in Sibley, IA interior image of Sibley Public Library interior image of Sibley Library