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Spotlight: The Elkader Public Library (Iowa)

The Elkader Public Library

Advantage is proud to Partner with the Elkader Public Library, giving the library’s patrons an easier way to search their community’s history as recorded in newspapers dating back to 1855,

The Elkader Public Library is located in Elkader, Iowa, serving a community of nearly 1,300. Elkader is near the middle of Clayton County, in Northeast Iowa. Advantage Archives takes great pride in our rewarding partnership with the Elkader Public Library. We are excited to be a part of their efforts to provide their community with a way to connect with its history with its Community History Archive.

The mission of the Elkader Public Library is to “provide the residents of the community and the surrounding area equal access to resources and services for information, continuing education, and recreation.”


Jeff Brown, Account Manager at Advantage, has been very helpful in answering any questions we may have about digitizing and cost.

Lisa Pope

Director, Elkader Public Library

Lisa Pope, Director at the Elkader Public Library, has been with the library for almost 6 years. She grew up in Elkader, went to college, got married, had children and lived in other towns in Iowa. She was a public library director, then school librarian for two districts before coming back to her home town of Elkader to be a public library director once again.

Lisa is dedicated to ensuring the Elkader Public Library is meeting or exceeding the mission of the Public Library, by promoting life-long learning and giving patrons resources and services for information. The Community History Archive is one of those resources.

Lisa recently took the time to tell us a little bit about the Elkader Public Library’s Digital Archives collection.

“The decision to create a Community History Archive was decided before I took this position. However, I am excited and grateful for the archive because it not only is a service to the community but to anyone who wants to quickly and easily access the local newspaper archives.”

The Elkader Public Library Archive is compromised of newspapers from 1855-present and Atlases from 1866-1919. The newspaper collection consists of newspapers from Elkader and Clayton County.

Elkader first started to take shape in 1836 when a settler built a farm on the banks of the Turkey River. Shortly after the first few settlers established themselves in the area, they built a schoolhouse. One of the first businesses was the Elkader Flour Mill, which was built in 1846. In 1847, the community was becoming a “hub of local activity” due to the arrival of its first retail store and sawmill, along with the arrival of a blacksmith. Elkader officially became incorporated in 1891. The thought of creating the Elkader Public Library started back in 1899 when a group of women bought books to get it started but became official in 1926 when voters approved the library.

Today, people are drawn to Elkader for the history and beautiful landscape. Many of the buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s are still standing allowing for visitors to experience a historical walking tour. The Opera House (1903), Bayless Hotel (1897), Keystone Bridge (1889), Stemmer House (1889), and Carter House Museum (1855) are some of the historic buildings that can be seen.

Elkader offers many features to entice people to become residents, or just for a visit. Some of the offerings, besides the historical features, are the Elkader Whitewater Park, beautiful camping areas, fishing, hiking, golfing, swimming, bed and breakfast, shopping, and tours. Elkader also has a great school system, various dining options, parks, and entertainment options.

“The Elkader Public Library Foundation and the local genealogical society share the cost of digitizing content to put on our Community History Archive,” Lisa tells us. “Having the foundation and the genealogical society work together on this project has been a great benefit to the library and the genealogists. It’s this kind of project that shows how important the library and the community, along with their support, are to each other. The Community History Archive allows the library to give its patrons a resource and genealogists easier access to search content they may need.”

She goes on to share ‘Our Mission Statement is “The Elkader Public Library provides residents of the community and the surrounding area equal access to resources and services for information, continuing education, and recreation.” By digitizing our newspapers, we are not only providing residents of our community and surrounding area access to resources; we are providing access to this archive to anyone anywhere in the world.’


Our Community History Archive is used mostly for genealogy or family tree research. Sometimes it is used for reminiscing at class reunions or retirement celebrations.

Lisa Pope

I really enjoyed being able to help the Elkader Public Library give their patrons a resource for easier access to the past. There is a lot of neat history in the newspapers of Elkader and surrounding area,” according to Jeff Brown, Account Manager.

Lisa also recognizes the digital archive as an outreach or engagement tool.

“Our Community History Archive is a valuable resource for research and entertainment because it is widely accessible. Having that kind of accessibility has been very beneficial to our patrons.”

The Advantage Archives Community History Archive platform was designed to serve as a “portal to the past” for communities by making all types of history accessible. Many institutions start with their local newspapers and grow the archive with new and interesting content like photos, maps, atlases, history books, and much more. Lisa also plans to expand what is currently available:

“Currently, our plans for the future are to at least keep the newspaper content up-to-date on our Community History Archive. You never know, the future may bring other opportunities for additional content.”

The Community History Archives are user-friendly and easy to learn. The Advantage team has focused on making it as simple as possible so that everyone…from students to grandparents (and everyone in between) can browse, search, view, clip and share articles, headlines, pages, and stories recorded in the pages of the community newspaper. Users of the site are able to just type a search and hit “enter” or create a more complex search by using the query builder. There is also the ability to simply browse to a specific year, month, day or page in any (or all) publications contained in the archive.

“It is valuable to digitize records because that way they are not only available to everyone, but they are also preserved for future generations. Paper deteriorates and ink fades, and the physical copies may not survive but the digital ones will still be accessible.”

Advantage partners with communities just like Elkader across the United States, to archive & provide practical digital access to local historical content in print, that would otherwise be lost to the erosion of time.

If you would like to see more local history online, please contact your local library, newspaper publisher, genealogical society, historical society, or educational institution, and encourage them to learn more about creating a Community History Archive like the one Eklader has created for its community. Ask them to e-mail us using the form below, or have them contact us at (855) 303-2727.

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