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History

On November 5, 1892 Dr. Alice Turner, Mrs. MS. Corselius and Miss Fannie Wilson petitioned the city "fathers" for a room in the newly erected City Hall to be used as a public library. The west room of the second story was granted. This building was on the Southwest side of the main intersection and still exists. Suppers, plays, balls, concerts, public benefits and book showers were held to raise money to run the new library and to buy books. On July 21, 1893 the library was formally dedicated. In May of 1902 the Colfax Library change from a subscription library ($1.00 a year) to a Free Public Library when a tax levy was passed and received from the city of Colfax. In 1903 the library board of trustees started petitioning Andrew Carnegie for funds to build a separate building. The mayor J.H. Hawn also wrote to Carnegie asking for funding. Mrs. Vail (a trustee) felt so strongly about the cause that she traveled to New York City and met with Andrew Carnegie in person. Finally after much correspondence back and forth a letter was received from Andrew Carnegie's secretary on September 5, 1912 pledging $6500 for the construction of a new library building. The land was purchased from Dr. W.W. Hawk and Eleanor Hawk. Eleanor was on the library board of trustees for 21 years until her death. She saw the building completed but died right before it was formally dedicated. The architect was Proudfoot, Bird and Rawson from Des Moines. The contractor was W.J. Zitterall of Webster City. A.A. Penquite of Colfax a dealer in hardware, stoves, buggies and furniture supplied 18 oak chairs ($54) and 3 oak library tables ($48) which are still in use today (2014). The new building was completed on March 24, 1913. Dedication ceremonies were held May 14, 1913. A list of Carnegie Libraries in Iowa can be viewed at www.clip.grad.uiowa.edu/