Downtown Library

200 N. Dakota
The Main Library in downtown Sioux Falls has been a fixture since 1972. At the time, it was a very modern home for all the volumes of books that made their way from the various buildings in town that once served as library.
In 1875, Mrs. Artemus Gale opened a reading room at 9th and Phillips that would become the first library of any kind in Sioux Falls. Her aim was to keep the men and kids out of the saloons. She kept this reading room going for more than a year before a grasshopper invasion and a general lack of interest caused her to falter and close the room.
In 1886, a literary society known as the Humboldt Club and the Sioux Falls Ladies’ History Club put together the Sioux Falls Library Association, their charter recognized by Dakota Territory. The association had a mere 278 books in 1887, but would add at least 500 more by 1892. These books lacked a consistent shelf until the Library Association opened another reading room on the sixth floor of the Edmison-Jameson building. By 1898, more than 2,000 books were available to the public.
Sioux Falls’ first library building was the former All Souls Church at the corner of Twelfth Street and Dakota Avenue, donated by W.H. and Winona Lyon. The upper floor housed the library, while the main auditorium was used for lectures and more social aspects of the library. This was used for only four years from 1899 to 1903.  A new library was being prepared at Tenth Street and Dakota Avenue with the help of a $30,000 boost from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Another $6000 was raised by the library association, the land for the building having been acquired for $4,500.
In the early 1900s, books were not as plentiful as they are now, and even less so in the time of Carnegie’s youth. Carnegie was impressed by his employer, who would allow the boys who worked for him access to his private library every Saturday.

The Carnegie Free Public Library served the city well for 70 years, but started running out of room. The children’s department was moved to a remodeled grocery store on Phillips Avenue in 1954. Although the state had a traveling bookmobile by 1938, the city purchased one for the community in 1951, adding two more in 1957 and 1960.
The city started putting aside funds for a new library in 1965, and by December 1972, the 46,600-square-foot, $1.5 million library was completed at 200 North Dakota Avenue.

Below are some excellent photos from a program published in 1972 at the time of the Main Library's opening.
In 2010, a remodeling project was completed to boost its size to 61,832 square feet. The Carnegie Library building is still in use by the city and is known as Carnegie Town Hall.

For a map of the library's original layout, click this link.
Images from the 1972 brochure were provided by Mark Helberg, friend of Greetings from Sioux Falls, and a hell of a guy.