The publication of the Young Men’s Library Association catalog in 1874 marks the transition between Dubuque’s early subscription libraries of the 1850s and 1860s and the opening of the Carnegie-Stout Free Library in late 1902.
Before this catalog was published, groups like the Dubuque Library Association and the Young Men’s Literary Association kept small sets of books in private offices and shops for paying members to borrow.
By 1866, the Young Men’s Library Association opened public reading rooms in the Julien Theater Building at the northwest corner of Locust and 5th Streets, and paid librarian Martha A. Chaddock a $600 salary to manage the growing collection of books and magazines.
The library was still supported by fees, a $10 initiation fee plus a $3 annual fee, but membership was open to any person over the age of fourteen. When the collection reached 8,000 volumes in 1874, Chaddock, assisted by former bookseller William S. Couch, compiled the library catalog presented here.
The library later moved to the Facade Building on the southeast corner of 9th and Locust, and then to the Odd Fellows Temple on the northwest corner opposite of the Facade Building.
Finally, in October 1902, the Young Men’s Library Association transferred its 18,000 books, plus “all furniture, pictures, busts, medallions and belongings” and about $10,000 to the new Carnegie-Stout Free Library at 360 West 11th Street.
The new library was named after philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who funded the building, and Dubuque lumberman Frank D. Stout, who donated the land.
Martha Ann Chaddock (1830-1893) was YMLA's librarian from 1866 until her retirement in 1876. The description above of Chaddock is from “A Model Librarian” in Association Monthly (November 1870), page 300.
In the early 1860s, YMLA's subscription library was kept at W.J. Gilbert’s bookstore at 110 Main Street. This vignette is from a lithograph published around 1858, when William Couch, who later helped Martha Chaddock compile the 1874 Catalogue, was Gilbert’s business partner.
In 1874, the YMLA’s “library rooms” were located in the Julien Theater Building at the northwest corner of Locust and 5th Streets, the current site of the fenced-in parking lot behind Dubuque’s Historic Federal Building.