Since the beginning of Aberdeen, education and literacy have been important factors to the people in the community. It is for this precise reason that only two years after the town began in 1882, B.E. Hutchinson became the first president of the Aberdeen Free Library Association. Under the Association’s guidance, a subscription library was opened, housed in two rooms on the second floor of the Hagerty block. A subscription cost 25₵ per month and $1.50 per year, and the library also received funds through benefit lectures. Furthermore, the library was conveniently located in conjunction with the telephone exchange, so the operator was often in charge of the books as well.
The library moved around several times, but in the end the community wanted a real library building. To that end, C.H. Pryor donated a building site and Andrew Carnegie gave the town $15,000 on the condition that the city would pay 10% for upkeep. With all of the funding and land provided, a lovely classic-colonial style structure was built, complete with three floors, and the library was opened on July 15th of 1902 with Miss Aurora Koehler in the position of librarian. At Mr. Carnegie’s request, the library was named after his friend, Mr. Alexander Mitchell of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Rail Road Company.
Unfortunately the building was condemned in 1950, and then the floor collapsed, so the library was temporarily moved into a bookmobile and a second story location on Main Street. The situation was remedied, however, when the current Alexander Mitchell Library was built in 1963. This building contained only one story with a partial basement, and it included a garage area for bookmobiles. The basement held the children’s section and a multi-purpose room that would seat 150 people, and the main floor held the adult section with a newspaper and periodical section and a research area. Lots of things have changed in the library since then, but it can still be found at its original location at 519 S. Kline Street.