During the summer of 1970 Gail Mcgrew and Dorothy J Zmolek talked about a library for Chelsea and decided to find out if it would be possible to establish one here. They wrote letters to the State library in Des Moines and several officials. They were referred to Mrs. Nelle Neafie of the Seven Rivers Library System.

On September 28, 1970, the mayor, town council and 24 interested people met at the town hall with Mrs. Neafie who explained how Chelsea could obtain a library.

Mayor Johnson appointed Gail McGrew, Ludmilla Stadler, Beulah Grabak, Marj Lebeda and Barbara Zmolek as a committee to work for the establishment of a library. Later Ed Malina and Ray Coleman were added to the committee. During the two years that this committee was in charge there were 15 formal meetings held. Money was raised by various means, including sales of popcorn, etc., and donations.

Mrs. Pauline Dunlap, a sister of the late Charles and Albert Swalm, gave the committee the Swalm Building to use at their discretion to help Chelsea establish a library. The building was not salvageable, but many shelves and other items from the store were used.

A building was purchased from the Chelsea Savings Bank in December 1972 at 601 Station St.

The library is the result of many people working hundreds of hours to raise money, working in the Swalm Building and preparing the new building. A very successful cookbook was published with the proceeds going toward remodeling the new building.

On August 10th the building was damaged in the wide swath derecho that hit the state of Iowa and others. Part of the roof was blown off and rain was blown into the building. The library approached St. Joseph’s Parish about setting up temporarily in the St. Joseph’s Parish School. A generous rental agreement favoring the library was struck and the library has been operating out of the school since November 4th 2020.

Today the library is a thriving part of the community. The library offers adult fiction, children's fiction, nonfiction, magazines, audio books, newspaper, and DVDs, has  computers available for public use, and much more.

A popular summer reading program is held every summer. There is also an early-out held the the first early-out school day of the month for school-age children.

The Station Street Readers book club meets every third Thursday at 6 p.m. The club members read a variety of books then meet to discuss and enjoy the fellowship once a month.

The library board of trustees meets once a month on the last Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m.


Dunning, Dianna. Vitame Vas Do Chelsea 150th Celebration 1864-2014. Bell Books, 2014.