The Red Wing Public Library is committed to providing for the lifelong learning and information service needs of the community. We offer a wide variety of materials for all ages, including hardback books, board books, paperback books, large print books, audiobooks, movies, music, art prints, newspapers and magazines. Other library services include free Internet access via our 19 public Internet PCs or via wireless connection, meeting rooms and a genealogical index to the local newspaper.

Long Range Plan

For more information about the library’s mission and vision statement, as well as our future plans, see the Red Wing Public Library long range plan.


  • 1893 – Due to public demand, the mayor appointed a committee of nine men to study the feasibility of opening a reading room.
  • 1894 – The new reading room, located in the Gladstone Building, opened for business. Expenses included an estimated $300 annual salary for the librarian. There was no checking out books and no browsing the shelves – patrons had to ask the librarian for a particular book, which was a bit problematic, since there was no card catalog. However, a printed catalog was available for purchase.
  • 1895 – Checking out books became available, though only one at a time.
  • 1897 – The fine for unreturned items is 2 cents per day, which is equivalent to 42 cents in 2002 dollars.
  • 1898 – Patrons were now allowed to check out two books at a time, though only one could be a work of fiction (the other had to be “of a heavier nature.”). The reading room moved to the Boxrud Building.
  • 1901 – The library’s collection consists of almost 4,000 books.
  • 1903 – Built on land donated by James Lawther and with funds ($17,000)  provided by the Carnegie Foundation, the Carnegie-Lawther Free Library was dedicated on October 24, 1903. The number of items checked out was 18,355.
  • 1968 – After determining that remodeling and/or expanding the old library was not feasible, a new library building is constructed. Completed in 1969, it results in a massive increase in the library’s square footage (from 3,500 to 27,000), including meeting rooms downstairs.
  • 1985 – Red Wing Public Library changes from a card catalog to a computerized catalog.
  • 1993 – The computer catalog changes from a standalone system to a part of the SELCO (Southeastern Libraries Cooperating) regional network. Patrons could now search the library catalogs of a variety of libraries in southeastern Minnesota.
  • 1997 – Another remodeling project is completed. This project provides for much more efficient use of space, as well as installing the cabling necessary for current and future technology needs. The Taber Reading Room, created as part of the remodeling, houses 340 magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
  • 2003 – The Library’s collection (as of the end of 2002)  includes over 63,000 titles, including books, books on tape, books on CD, music CDs, DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes and artwork. The Library also makes available to patrons a number of electronic databases. From the Red Wing Public Library, patrons can search the catalogs of and borrow items from  libraries all over the country.  The Library also provides free Internet access (from one of the 8 public Internet computers) to people with a valid SELCO library card. The number of items checked out in 2002 was over 182,000. The number of items is now nearly ten times the amount first circulated in 1903 and the library has close to 13,000 registered borrowers.
  • 2005 – Due to (among other reasons) the new automation system from Dynix and the MNLink project, the Library’s ability to get  materials from across the region, state and country increases greatly. Public demand also increases, with the result that the Library sees a dramatic rise in the number of interlibrary loans. The Library continues to improve its physical environment, replacing old inefficient windows with new energy-efficient windows, repainting, adding more lighting and increasing the amount of seating in the Taber Reading Room.
  • 2006 – The Library continues to make significant changes to the collection to reflect both demographics (e.g., greatly expanded large print collection) and demand (e.g., rapidly expanding audio and video collections). Free wireless Internet access is offered beginning in January.