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Library History


In March, at an "upper room" meeting, Mrs. M. L. Ward and Mrs. Ruth Griffin proposed sharing the expense of purchasing books that could be shared for the enjoyment of all. In a short time, nine of the fifteen ladies present paid $1 each in dues.

This first reading group named themselves Ottawa Reading Club and began meeting at Ottawa University. 

In September of the same year, the reading club had grown and evolved, adopting the name the Ottawa Library Association.

The first business meeting was held on October 1st, with fifty-seven ladies having paid dues.

Founding Members:
  • Mrs. M. L. Ward

  • Mrs. Ruth Griffin

  • Mrs. H. J. Smith

  • Mrs. L. H. Holt

  • Mrs. E. E. Fuller

  • Mrs. Asa Lathrop

  • Mrs. H. H. Ludington

  • Mrs. Delia Norris

  • Miss Lucy Hatch


State Senator J. P. Harris secured legislation authorizing a one-mill tax for the support of the library.


In response to solicitations by Mrs. R. A. Wasson and Mrs. R. S. Black, American Industrialist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie pledged $15,000 towards the erection of a free public library​.

The City of Ottawa Pledged $1,500 annually for the maintenance of the library, the stockholders and owners transferred all property to the Ottawa Free Library and it became tax-supported.

Ottawa Architect, George P. Washburn, was tapped to prepare the plans for the Carnegie Library.1903 

Ottawa Free Library, located on the South East corner of 5th and Main, is dedicated and open to the public.


During the summer of 1996, the Ottawa Library moved to its current location with City Hall in the former Franklin Savings headquarters on South Hickory street. The main collection was placed in the basement and the reference materials on the ground level. 

The community's needs have changed over the years but the our mission remains the same:

Ottawa Library is a community library that links everyone to free educational, informational, and entertainment resources through responsive, quality service that supports lifelong learning. 

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