Current view of Alden Public Library
of the Hardin County Community Development Council
Standing atop the palisades on the right bank of the Iowa River in the town
of Alden is the unique Alden Public Library. The town has the distinction of being
the smallest community in America to receive a Carnegie grant to construct a library,
and it is believed to be one of the smallest Carnegie-endowed libraries ever built.
This program, established by the noted industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew
Carnegie, funded construction of numerous libraries throughout the world. Other
examples can be found at the Carnegie-Ellsworth Public Library
in Iowa Falls or the Eldora Public Library in Eldora. Alden
was also the first community in Iowa to form a library society--the first public
library was established in February 1882 when 225 books were procured. Alden's
experience in establishing a public library is representative of Iowa communities
as a whole during the late 19th- and 20th-century heyday of the library movement.
The Alden Library also reflects the national movement that sought to obliterate
the evils of society by increasing the availability of education and knowledge
to the masses.
The Alden Public Library is a somewhat unusual example of Beaux
Arts Classical design applied to a small scale building. The Des Moines architectural
firm of Wetherell and Gage designed this goldfish-tan brick building early in
1914, and it was ready for occupancy that fall. The library was completed at a
cost of $9000 and contains only 3000 square feet and two floors, with the entrance
leading to the elevated main floor. The library has served the town and surrounding
community well since its construction. The library was recently renovated, and
a large addition made to one side of the building.
Historic view of Alden Public Library
Courtesy of the Hardin County Community Development Council
The Alden Public Library
is located at 1012 Water St., in Alden. The library is open 1:30pm to 6:30pm Monday;
1:30pm to 5:30pm Tuesday-Friday; additional morning hours on Tuesday and Friday
from 9:00am to 11:30am; and 11:00am to 5:30pm Saturday. Visit the Library's website for further information.