In 1902, the president of Buena Vista College, E. E. Reed came up with a plan for land for a library, and submitted it to Andrew Carnegie. If the public library was on the college campus then both the public and college could use it. This plan was met by local opposition because the town did not want a public library on college property but they were interested in the Carnegie grant.
The City of Storm Lake contacted the Carnegie foundation about a grant for a library. With $10,000 granted if certain conditions were met, the City passed a library levy in 1904 and chose a site with three lots on 5th Street. The construction firms, J. M. Russell and Park Brothers, were awarded the contract that included everything from heating and plumbing to lighting. Extra funds were raised to purchase furniture and other furnishings. The library was constructed of red sandstone and gray pressed brick. The design included a small turret and large bay windows. Many books were donated before the library formally opened. On September 29, 1906 the building officially opened to the public.
In the late 1960s, when new buildings codes came into effect, the Carnegie library was no longer was up to code. A new library was constructed across the street from the new Buena Vista Court House, just down the street from the old Carnegie Library. The Paul Park Company was the general contractor on the building and the architects, who also designed the Court House, were Frevert and Ramsey. The new building officially opened in 1971. Not seen in the picture is another wing which houses the Witter Gallery.
The Carnegie Library, which remains a municipal government building, is currently a seasonal holiday exhibit and gift shop called Santa's Castle. The trees in front of the Carnegie Turret are apple trees. The tree branches at the top of the frame of the current building are white flowering crab apple trees.