Our History

Boise Public Library's story began February 18, 1895, opening as a subscription library and free reading room in City Hall, and continued for a decade until Andrew Carnegie awarded a grant funding the first library location. Boise's Carnegie Public Library opened its doors on June 22, 1905, and has been a tale of continued growth, learning and community support ever since.

February 18, 1895

Subscription Library and Free Reading Room Opens in City Hall

The women of the Columbian Club opened a subscription library and free reading room in City Hall. For 10 years, the Club kept the reading room alive while helping secure funds from Andrew Carnegie to construct a true public library.

June 22, 1905

Boise's Carnegie Public Library Opens

Carnegie Public Library

Boise's Carnegie Public Library opened its doors at 815 W. Washington on June 22, 1905. Andrew Carnegie awarded library grants to 1,406 communities in the early 1900's with the provision that the communities supply land and on-going maintenance.  Columbian Club members persuaded Boise city leaders to provide the matching funds necessary for the administration and maintenance of a Carnegie library.

April 27, 1973

Main Library Location Opens

Main Library

The Library moved to its present downtown location at 715 South Capitol Boulevard. City leaders purchased and renovated the Salt Lake Hardware building, which was built in 1946.

1965 - 2012

Bookmobile Service

Bookmobile Service reaches Boise's growing population from 1965-2012.

1989 - 2008

Boise Towne Square Mall Reading Library Added

The Boise Towne Square reading library was added in 1989, soon after the Towne Square mall opened and operated through 2008.


Homebased Services Begin

A Homebased Services program was initiated to serve residents who are unable to access the library on site. This program continues today, allowing us to meet residents where they are. 


The Library becomes the "Library!"

The first exclamation points were added to two exterior signs on the Downtown Library location. 


Library! at Collister Branch Opens

Library! at Collister opens in the northwestern Collister neighborhood.


Library! at Hillcrest Opens

Library! at Hillcrest opens in the Central Bench.


Library! at Cole + Ustick Opens

Library! at Cole + Ustick opens in West Boise.


Library! at Bown Crossing Opens

Library! at Bown Crossing opens in East Boise.

To learn more about the first 100 years in the history of Boise Public Library, check out "A Light in the Window of Idaho" edited by Kathleen Rubinow Hodges. The book is an extensive account of the first 100 years of public library service in Boise.