125 Years of Library Service in Boise


In February 1895, the Columbian Club of Boise established public library services in Boise with the opening of a public reading room in the city hall. They then spent the next ten years spearheading the financing and construction of a permanent library facility. The Club raised funds locally, secured financing from the Boise city government, and, crucially, successfully received major grant funding from the financier Andrew Carnegie. In 1905, Boise’s Carnegie library opened to the public.  

The institution remained at the site on Washington Street until April 27, 1973, when it moved to its present location at 715 South Capitol Boulevard. City leaders decided that purchasing and renovating the Salt Lake Hardware building, which was built in 1946, was more cost effective than tearing down and rebuilding on the Carnegie site. The Main Library currently exists in the renovated Salt Lake Hardware building. 

Today, Boise Public Library includes four neighborhood branch libraries, a digital library in the Boise Airport, and a huge range of outreach services. You can still see the original Carnegie Public Library just a few blocks away from the Idaho State Capitol Building, at Washington and Eighth Street. 

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2020 Celebrations

Throughout 2020, Boise Public Library will be celebrating this anniversary of 125 years of continuous library service with a series of programs and celebrations that highlight the library’s role in the community. The kickoff celebration on February 29 is the first of many fun and educational events that will continue throughout the year.  Check back for updates or swing by our calendar at BoisePublicLibrary.org/Calendar

Boise Public Library Passport

Pick up your very own Boise Public Library Passport at any information desk.  Complete the fun challenges and earn a commemorative 125th library card or limited-edition print. The artwork on the library card and print was created by Library! at Bown Crossing staff-member Brittany Lindstrom.


A big thank you and happy 50th anniversary to the Friends of the Boise Public Library for helping make these celebrations possible.

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Contact Us

Phone: (208) 972-8200
Telecirc: (208) 384-4450
TTY: 1-800-377-3529

Interim Director: Kristine Miller

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Find us at BoisePubLib