Boise Gets a Carnegie Library

CarnegieBuildingSML.pngBoise Public Library traces its roots to February 18, 1895, when 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 to secure funds from Andrew Carnegie to construct a true public library. 

Andrew Carnegie awarded library grants to 1406 communities in the early 1900's with the provision that the communities supply land and on-going maintenance.  Columbian Club members persuaded Boise city fathers to provide the matching funds necessary for the administration and maintenance of a Carnegie library.  Boise's Carnegie Public Library opened its doors at 815 W. Washington on June 22, 1905.


Services Move to Salt Lake Hardware

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. 

Library Expands Services 

In 1965, the Bookmobile service was initiated to expand library service in the city and to reduce crowding in the Carnegie building.  In 1994, the Library purchased the big white Bookmobile bus, which became well known as it traveled the streets of Boise.  For many years, the Bookmobile operated five days a week, serving eight locations throughout the city.  The schedule was reduced to three days and six locations as three neighborhood branches opened in 2008 and 2009.  Due to declining usage and the looming prospect of an expensive vehicle replacement, the service was discontinued on October 1, 2012.

The now defunct Boise Towne Square reading library was added in 1989, soon after the Towne Square mall opened. (This limited-service library facility closed in early 2008, as two new full-service branches opened.)  A Homebound Service was also initiated to serve residents who are physically unable to access the library.  

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. 

Contact Us

Phone: (208) 972-8200
Item Renewal by Phone: (208) 972-8980
TTY: 1-800-377-3529

Library Director:  Jessica Dorr

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