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Library History

In 1853 Fairfield was the first town in Iowa to offer library services to its residents.  The library was first proposed by Ward Lamson in an editorial in The Fairfield Ledger.   He later worked to solicit funds and the library was born in a rented room off the town square.

In 1893, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who had been solicited by his friend Senator James F. Wilson, pledged $40,000, which enabled Fairfield to build the first Carnegie library west of the Mississippi.  The building was finished in 1893. 

The building was built to last, but as time passed, the brick walls began to crack, as the ground under the library was unstable.  The beautiful Mansard-style roof was removed in the 1930s, to help relieve the weight on the walls.  By 1948 extensive reinforcement was needed, and again in 1954.     

Fairfield Public Library had other challenges as well, as growing circulation and collections in the library made the building a very cramped place.  In 1987 a Long range Planning Committee was appointed, and the next year it was determined that a new building was a possibility. 

Fund raising began, and over $1 million of the $3 million needed was raised.  The public later voted to raise the remaining  necessary funds through a bond issue, and ground was broken on the new library, to be on the corner of Main Street and Adams, on November 3, 1994.

The library moved to its new location in May 1996.  Floor space increased from 8,500 square feet to 21,900 square feet.  A public meeting room was added, seating 125.  Fairfield Public Library continues to offer state-of-the-art services for children and adults.

More Library History:

The Fairfield Carnegie Library: A photographic history
Created by a  University of Iowa student for a school project.