Manchester Public Library

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Library History

Read how this library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.



MPL Historical Carnegie Library

The Manchester Public Library was formally opened in March 1903. 

The library's real beginning, however, was in 1883 when a group of ladies met to consider establishing a public reading room.  This organization was called the Manchester Reading Room Association.  A constitution was adopted and the Reading Room, located on South Franklin Street, was opened for the benefit of the community.  No books could be checked out but anyone was welcome to spend afternoons and evenings reading the available books and magazines.

In 1883 an ordinance was passed by the city council providing for the establishment of a free public library.  The library began to loan books in 1884 and had a total of 326 books and 495 registered patrons.

In 1885 a brick building was erected where the city's present City Hall stands on East Main Street, and the library was assigned two rooms.  With limited funds with which to maintain the library and buy books, many fund-raising projects were undertaken, such as plays, box socials, and concerts.

In 1902 a donation of $10,000 was received from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for the erection of a Free Public Library Building.  An additional $3,200 was raised by public subscription.  A site was chosen at 304 North Franklin Street and in March 1903 the Carnegie Public Library was completed and formally occupied.  The total number of books at that time was 4736 and circulation totaled 8744 in a year.

In 1990, Friends of the Manchester Public Library was established.  A new addition and remodeling was completed in 1993, bringing the library to over 10,000 square feet.

In 2015, the Manchester Public Library had over 2,800 active cardholders, 35,000 physical materials in various formats, millions of downloadable/digital materials including books, music, videos, and magazines, and an annual circulation over 95,000.  Every year thousands of residents in Delaware County walk through our doors to find information, do research, attend a program, check out the latest bestseller, use a computer, browse a newspaper or magazine, grab a movie for the weekend, come to a community meeting, take a proctored exam, or meet up with friends.  Free and open to the public, the Library is truly the place to be!

This resource is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by State Library of Iowa.