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Library History

Read how the Roy R. Estle Memorial Library was established and how it has evolved to become an important part of our community.

Before Dallas Center became a town, a group of soldiers who were civil engineers came riding into the area on horseback.  They stayed at a local farm and surveyed for the railroad, often wading through the swamp land in hip boots, as they placed stakes in the muddy black soil.  The building of the railroad gave rise to settlement of the town.

Dallas Center was named because of its location near the center of Dallas County.  The city celebrates its birth date as June 1, 1869, although a petition for incorporation of Dallas Center was not filed until March 22, 1880.

The Dallas Center library was established in 1941 by members of the local Woman's Club with a shelf or so of donated books.  The City of Dallas Center first funded the public library in 1945.  The first library space was contributed by Attorney Ray A. Emmert at his local office. It later moved to a room in the D.G. Burkett building located at 1419 Walnut St.  and then was transfered to City Hall which at that time was located at 1407 Walnut St. and in 1954 moved to Memorial Hall in the space currently housing City Hall.   In 1976, using funds donated by Minnie Estle, mother of Roy R. Estle, a 2900 square foot building was built at 1308 Walnut St. and the library was renamed in Roy's honor.  A 1680 square foot addition was dedicated in 2001 and named the Conrad and Doris Labor Program room to honor Doris Labor and her family for their generous contribution towards the addition.  In 2008 this addition was revamped into the youth section of the library with colorful book bins, seating on bean bags and couches and a mural painted by local artist Teena Case with the help of Amy Hofland.

Katherine Neff was the first paid librarian and served in this position from 1942-1960, the first years as a volunteer.  Jeanne Murphy became librarian in 1960 and filled the position until 1980 when she retired and Lorraine Haulman took her place unitl 1982.  In 1982 Sara Myers was appointed library director with Mary Werch taking the position when Sara resigned in 1989.

The library has always kept pace with new formats and programming, adding audio cassettes and then videos.   Today the library offers books on cassette and CD, VHS and DVD movies, and of course books, magazines, and newspapers. The library has 4 public access computer stations and free wireless access for the public. The staff has grown over the years and is now made up of 1 full-time and 4 part-time members.