Until Huldah Enlow donated the small brick building on West Main Street, West Branch had to make do with a reading room which a few earnest young men and women started over Hathaway’s store.
On June 6, 1904 the town council accepted the deed for the land and building that was to be their new library. On September 30, 1904 the town dedicated the Free Public Library, later to be known as the Enlow Public Library. The following account is taken from the West Branch Times story about the dedication ceremony.
A goodly number of our citizens gathered at the Opera House on last Friday afternoon to witness the exercises of the dedication of our Free Public Library, so generously donated to the town by our public-spirited citizen, Mrs. Huldah Enlow.
Dr. L.J. Leech gave a short talk and was followed by Miss Bertha Armstrong, who gave a history of the library work in West Branch which was listened to with much interest. In behalf of Mrs. Enlow, Rev. Stribbling made the presentation speech and detailed at length the advantages of a public library and closed by congratulating the citizens of West Branch upon being the only village of its size that could boast of having a library building.
G.C. Hoover, in behalf of the town, accepted the proffered gift and in a few well chosen words extended the heartfelt thanks of a grateful community. After the song by the quartette, Prof. Mott answered to the theme “The Library and the People” and in an allegorical manner showed the plan that would lead up to the establishment of a public library.
The exercises were closed by a lengthy discourse on the growth of libraries in the state by Miss Alice Tyler, secretary of the State Library Commission. This talk was listened to with much interest as it brought out points little thought of by the average citizen.
A few years later another record attested to the success of the Enlow Public Library in 1928. The following account is a slice of the times when a local boy advanced into history.
The fame of West Branch, birthplace of Herbert Hoover,was further enhanced yesterday at a conference of Iowa librarians held at the State Historical Building.
Miss Mabel Leech, librarian at West Branch, sent a note to the conference explaining that she would have to be absent because of the celebration over Hoover’s election. In the note, she pointed out that the library circulation in West Branch last year was thirty three books per capita, the largest circulation in the state.
“The library circulation of West Branch, the largest in the state, is also probably the largest in the country,” Miss Julia Robinson, secretary of the Iowa Library Commission, commented.
When Huldah Enlow donated the land and the building for a new public library, she stipulated that the town assess the necessary taxes to support its operation so that the library was absolutely free to users.
In 1930 an anonymous gift of $2,000 was used to construct the south room for expansion.
In 1963 the front entrance was enclosed and in 1974 the basement was converted to a children’s library.
When the new public library was built in 1993, this building was sold to private residents who restored the building for commercial use.
Currently the building is occupied by the West Branch Times.