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Current view of Alden Public Library
Courtesy 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.

Historic view of Alden Public Library
Courtesy of the Hardin County Community Development Council

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.

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.

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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