It was a modest beginning for the Emmetsburg Library as funds were scarce in the early 1900s, but the founders were dedicated in their faith and in their realization that the town needed such a cultural center. The Emmetsburg library began its life in 1902 in multiple temporary locations before finding a permanent home.
That home was the Carnegie Library building. By 1910 and 1911, there was considerable agitation for a library building. Finally Andrew Carnegie, who was then building libraries in many towns and cities around the country, agreed to build one for Emmetsburg at a cost of $10,000.
There was a common agreement that it should be located on the courthouse square, but the county could not sell the ground to the city. Finally the Board of Supervisors leased the site to the city for a library on a 99-year lease. The new Carnegie building was built and completed in 1912.
The City Council passed the enabling ordinances to qualify as a city library under the state law and provided that the library was to be managed by a board of seven trustees. The millage levy of taxes was voted to maintain the library, and thus the new library for Emmetsburg was at last a reality.
The building underwent extensive renovations in 2002 to convert the library into office space. The Palo Alto County Extension and Outreach Office now resides in the Carnegie building at 2008 10th Street.
"What stands out to me about the building, is the fine workmanship and the elaborate trim," said Extension staff member, Jody Leuer. "It's so inviting and so many people comment on how beautiful it is. We have made improvements but always try to keep its original integrity. Lots of people stop in just to see the building because they used to come in when they were kids."
It is fitting that Emmetsburg commemorated the building's Fifty Years of Progress in 1962 because it will be honored yet again for its 100th birthday.
There will be cookies and punch served on Saturday, March 16, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in honor of the historic building. Everyone is invited to attend the Open House.