The earliest circulation book collection in Grundy Center was started by the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The 3,000 books were housed in the basement of the new courthouse and maintained as a city library.
In 1910, a design for a library to be built on land purchased from Daniel Kerr and G.W. Morrison was submitted by Andrew Carnegie. The plan was rejected because it was considered too large and too costly. A second plan designed by Mr. Geer of Conrad was approved, and a building was constructed by Lavritzen and Wasson of Waterloo at a cost of $5,829.20. The Free Public Library of Grundy Center was opened in November, 1912.
Sixty-one years later, in 1973, the Library Board of Trustees began a remodeling and building project suggested by architect and former city resident, Howard Nickerson, Jr. The plan, developed by Stenson and Warm, Inc. of Waterloo, Iowa, left the Carnegie building intact but included a modern one-story addition onto the south side of the original library. Local contributions and a $20,000 grant from the Kinney-Lindstrom Foundation were received before the project was started. Cannon-Peterson Company of Reinbeck, Iowa, built the $53,000 addition. The library space now totaled 2,543 square feet to privide a collection of 17,000 items. Open house for the completed library was held on November 13, 1973. Storybook Park, located directly behind the Carnegie building, was dedicated on August 10, 1979, in honor of Ruth and Floyd Morrison's golden wedding anniversary. Their two sons, Bob and Jim, had planned with the library to develop this special mini-park, which has been enjoyed by people of all ages.
In the late 1980's, the Board of Trustees recognized the need for a new building. The space in the library was inadequate to house a collection of more than 25,000 items, print and non-print. Structural problems existed, and providing handicapped accessibility had been mandated. The need to expand services, including access to information through computer technology, required specific spaces of the various activities.
Early in 1996, Building and Finance committees were appointed. Land directly south of the library was purchased from the United Methodist Church. Architect The Novak Design Group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was selected to design the new library. Fund raising began, and approximately $900,000 in contributions had been secured before the ground-breaking ceremony on October 22, 1996.
Peters Construction Corporation of Waterloo, Iowa, built the 9,036 square foot Prairie School Design structure. Generous donations from local and former citizens, businesses, corporations, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, and the R.J. McElroy Grant provided the funds for the $1.2 million building.
The Kling Memorial Library was officially opened on April 7, 1998.
The library was named the Kling Memorial Library to honor Ralph and Norma Kling, who contributed generously to the new building. Their initial donation in the spring of 1996 was a major step in enabling the project to proceed.
In the fall of 2012, the City of Grundy Center celebrated 100 years of public library services. The twenty-first century continues to look bright for library services for the community of Grundy Center!
Interested in more history? Check out the Iowa Historical Society.