The Library originated from Howard SD and was the first chartered library in the Dakota Territory, January 8, 1886.
The library was first located in a residence then a general store and finally in this building. In a fire the entire store and almost the entire library were destroyed, eleven books survived. New books were bought and the library was moved to this building where it was shared with the jail and fire department. They were separated with brick walls with the library in the south end, jail in the middle, and fire department in the north end. The south end also served as a city council room as well as the library.
In 1900 the a petition was sent to the Carnegie Corporation asking for the building of a library. World War I came and those dreams were put on hold. In 1924 and 1926 petitions were re-filed but there were no longer funds available.
1935 the jail was moved to another location and the library was given the “whole building”.
In 1972 the building was transferred to Prairie Village. All of the books were transferred to the new library but a few magazines were left in this building, that are still on display today. Books here today were donated by many people from all over.
The oak table in the middle came from the old courthouse.
The oak bench along the west wall is from the American Legion. The stove is from the Madison Carnegie Library. The center bookshelves are in memory of Josie Willoughby of Howard.
The exhibits, starting in the southeast corner, bring your attention to the Native Americans and then to the different nationalities that came to America, making up our national heritage. The west wall holds exhibits and history of South Dakota, which became a state in 1889.
Also included are exhibits of the early history of Lake County and Madison. One exhibit displays the fight for the State Capital. It says that at one meeting in Bon Homme County the presiding officer’s honor was questioned and he was thrown out the window.
In one of the pictures on the west wall is the graduating class of 1898 of the Normal School, as it was then called. One classmate was Gunda Jacboson who married Mr. Laurence, there son Dr. Laurence discovered how to smash the atom. Daisy Beck, also pictured, upon graduation went to Kansas City to teach art, she was Walt Disney’s first art teacher.
The north exhibit is dedicated to “agriculture” which in President Jefferson’s words is the foundation of our country
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