The first library, started by the Ladies Study Club in 1927, was housed in the Elgin State Bank, in the room that stood as Walter Kohler's office. Most of the original 412 books were donated. Patrons paid an annual membership fee of $1 to check out books, and non-members could check out books for 5 cents per title.
In 1931, the library moved across the street to the City Hall, and in 1933 it changed to a free library, open for two hours per week. Then in 1960, the library joined the Cooperative Library Plan, and a year later, a full-time librarian, Mrs. William Howard, was hired.
In 1973 the Cooperative went out of existence, and a State Regional Library system was established. The library joined the Northeastern Regional Library, of which it is still a member. The library was completely remodeled in 1973 thanks to a gift from the Adam Boleyn estate. Then there were 764 registered patrons and more than 7,000 books.
The first year that library accreditation was offered by the State of Iowa, the Elgin Public Library applied and was given accreditation in July 1987. By then there were 827 patrons, and the collection had grown to 11,000 books. Through the years the library was supported by patrons of all ages, and improvements were made as funds were made available.
In August of 1995, Walter Kohler bequested the library with a gift of $740,000. Two years later, the beautiful building where we now reside was opened. Citizens formed lines to relay the books fro the old library into the new facility.
Part of the bequest was invested in order to help finance the operation of the library. Because of these funds, the library was able to provide new services, programs, and books to the public, including computers and an ICN room.
The Friends of the Elgin Library was organized in 1998 to help support the library by purchasing books and other media for the collection. It supports many programs, activities and ongoing groups.
The library continues to grow and offer more programs and services. Currently the library is open 28 hours per week, and the collection holds over 16,000 items. The library is proud to serve over 1,500 patrons of all ages.