History of the Avoca Public Library

Stretching back over a hundred years, Avoca’s library has been a cornerstone of the town’s community and culture. On May 1, 1898, the Avoca Saturday Club convened to officially establish the Avoca Saturday Club Library Association, which would be housed in Alice Harlow’s home, with Clarissa B. "Cassie" Consigny acting as the town’s first librarian.

Elm and High.pngBy the end of that same year, the library and its modest collection of 110 volumes had been moved to the East Pottawattamie Courthouse on Avoca’s Main Street, where it was cataloged, shelved, and organized by authors’ last names. While there, it grew to almost 1,500 titles, with 650 borrowers making use of the collection. But the library had outgrown the courthouse by 1912, when it moved down the street to the A. L. Preston Block, occupying three rooms on the second floor above the Preston Clothing Store on the northeast corner of Elm and High Streets.


In 1954, the library moved again, this time through the largesse of i282319414688990880.jpglocal banker Edwin W. Davis. The library would be housed in the northern section of 504 North Walnut Street, a two-in-one building formerly known as “the brick house.” It was at this location when Avoca’s library became a municipal enterprise, as the Avoca Town Council formally accepted the institution under Ordinance No. 162, establishing Avoca’s library as an official public library for the first time.


Library Building versions.pngBut this site, too, would prove not to be the final address of the Avoca Public Library, as it moved one last time to its now-permanent location, at 213 North Elm Street. On the site of the old jailhouse, Allied Engineering of Atlantic designed Avoca’s current library building—built in 1979 and opened on May 1, 1980, through another generous donation from Edwin W. Davis, who left the money to the city for that purpose in his will, after dying at the age of ninety-three, in 1977. This building was then updated with the Wasser-Quirk Reference Addition, in 1987, engineered by Robert H. Burgin and Associates from Council Bluffs and built by Avoca’s own McCarthy Construction. In that same year, the Avoca Public Library became one of the initial fifty-nine libraries to meet the requirements of the State Library of Iowa’s Public Library Accreditation Program.


The Avoca Public Library looks forward to serving and partnering with our enthusiastic community and growing together for generations to come! Thanks so much to the Sweet Vale of Avoca Museum for their help in compiling this history.