As long ago as the 1870s there were efforts to establish a public library in Geneva. A referendum passed in April of 1894 and Geneva was assured of a public library. The building was begun in 1896; however, due to lack of funding the structure stood with half-finished walls for several years. In 1906, the women of the Geneva Improvement Association took over the structure "as a free gift" on the condition they finish the building and put a library in it. A $7,500 gift from Andrew Carnegie was received in January 1907 with the condition that the city support the library at a rate of at least $750 a year and the title be vested in the city's name.
The original library building, located at the corner of Second and James Streets, was completed in 1908,with additions in 1938, 1986 and 1998. The Craftsman architectural style is enhanced by stone exterior chimneys and Tudor half timbering with stucco. Stone for the original part of the building was from the Batavia quarry, and matching stone for the 1985 and 1998 additions was procured from an Iowa quarry. Special features of the Library include comfortable seating around our gas fireplace and a charming Literary Garden with a tall bronze statue of Nick Bottom from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream.