Central Library

Central Library exterior shot

Location Details

Address:
1000 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

Directions:
Google Maps

Jon Hobbs headshot

Jon Hobbs
Central Library Manager
JTHobbs@dmpl.org

Phone:
(515) 283-4152

Book a Central Library meeting room

In-Person Services
  • 9:00 AM-7:00 PM Monday-Thursday
  • 9:00 AM-6:00 PM Friday
  • 10:00 AM-5:00 PM Saturday
  • 1:00-5:00 PM Sunday
Pickup Window
  • 9:00 AM-7:00 PM Monday-Thursday
  • 9:00 AM-6:00 PM Friday
  • 10:00 AM-5:00 PM Saturday
  • Closed Sunday

Central Library

The Central Library is located in the heart of downtown Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park area at 1000 Grand Avenue, near the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden. The sprawling, 110,000-square foot building, which replaced the original Main Library that opened in 1903 on the Des Moines Riverfront, was designed by famed London architect Sir David Chipperfield.

About the Building

Chipperfield, along with Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck of Des Moines, designed the building, envisioning it as “a library in a park, a park in a library.” The building acts as a link from downtown to Western Gateway Park, anchoring it as a cornerstone of the western part of downtown. 

Central Library features a green roof of slow-growing sedum, which, when viewed from above, gives the illusion there is no library, as it blends into the greenspace outside. The free form shape resembles that of an airplane, which breaks the illusion. The roof controls water runoff by retaining water and can hold more than 187,000 gallons. It is self-maintaining and needs no irrigation. The building’s mechanical and electrical systems were also designed for efficiency, and use 30 percent less energy than a conventional building.

The library’s copper color is a result of its windows, which feature three layers of glass with copper mesh sandwiched between the outer two. Central Library was the first building in the world to use these copper mesh panels, which act as micro-blinds, reducing UV radiation by 87 percent, protecting books from sun damage, blocking glare and heat, and improving energy efficiency. There are 355 window panels, each weighing 1,400 pounds and measuring 4 feet by 14 feet. The panels look different fom the outside depending on the time of day - bright coppery reflection during the day, transparent at night.

The building took almost four years to construct, at a cost of $32.3 million. 

About the Public Artwork

Miffy statue at Central Library


At the west end of the library sits “Les Vents” (The Winds), a sculpture gifted to the city by the American Republic Insurance Company. Created by artist Edward Lee Hendricks, Les Vents was placed at the old Main Library in 1986, then moved to the new Central Library and reconstructed over three months in 2006. The poles stand more than 30 feet high, with wings 12 feet long that can sustain wind gusts up to 100 mph.

On the south lawn of Central Library sits the Miffy Fountain, gifted to the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation in memory of Melva Bucksbaum by her children. The work was created by famed American artist Tom Sachs and is based on the children’s book character of the same name. The fountain is painted bronze and was cast in 2008, and stands just over 10 feet tall. It had installations in New York City and Paris before finding its permanent home outside Central Library in 2018.

About the Central Art Gallery

Des Moines Central Library’s Art Gallery offers an accessible and welcoming environment for encouraging and celebrating Iowa artists. The gallery is located on the second floor of the Central Library and features eight double-sided movable walls with over fifty square feet of usable display space per side. Find out more about the gallery, see the current display, and learn how to apply to be featured in the space here.

Upcoming Events

This event is in the "All Ages" group.

NEA Big Reads Student Art Exhibit

All Day 10/18 - 10/30
Library Branch: Central Library
Age Group: All Ages
Program Type: Arts & Crafts, Exhibits
Event Details:
Join us at Des Moines Public Library for a student art exhibit inspired by the NEA Big Read pick Fahrenheit 451. Explore artistic interpretations of censorship from over 50 Des Moines Public School student artists at the Franklin and Central branches...
This event is in the "Birth-Preschool" group.
This event is in the "Children" group.

Day of the Dead with the Des Moines Art Center

All Day 10/25 - 10/31
All Locations
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: All Locations
Age Group: Birth-Preschool, Children
Program Type: Arts & Crafts, Heritage/History Month, Take & Make
Event Details:
Celebrate Day of the Dead with the Des Moines Art Center What is Day of the Dead? Day of the Dead is a holiday that is celebratory, yet respectful of death, and has been practiced in parts of Latin America for centuries. Families honor their ance...
This event is in the "Birth-Preschool" group.
Library Branch: Central Library
Age Group: Birth-Preschool
Program Type: Educational, Take & Make
Event Details:
Come to the Central Library children's area or the pick-up window to get a Learning Bag that will have all you need to make a spider web for the little toy spider you will find in your bag.  There will also be some spider rhymes that you can sin...
This event is in the "Children" group.

Rosie's Halloween Scavenger Hunt

All Day 10/25 - 10/31
Central Library Children’s Area
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Children’s Area
Age Group: Children
Program Type: Play & Learn
Event Details:
Rosie and her friends are ready to go trick or treating! Can you find everyone in their costumes?  Finish the scavenger hunt and win a prize! ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

The Outreach Project

1:00pm - 3:00pm
Central Library Gateway Gallery
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Gateway Gallery
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Health & Wellness
Event Details:
The Des Moines Public Library is partnering with area organizations to connect people with community resources. Community advocates will provide information about community resources like meal sites and shelters. They may also offer support and ...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Fear Street at the Library Escape Room

5:15pm - 6:00pm
Central Library Imagination Station
Registration
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Imagination Station
Age Group: Teens
Program Type: Gaming
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 8
Event Details:
A creepy quest, an evil witch, and a mystery to die for! You never know what you might face in this creepy adventure. Sign up and see if you survive our Fear Street escape room! Best for kids who are not easily grossed out and enjoy a fright! Ages 12...
This event is in the "Adults" group.
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Meeting Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Educational
Event Details:
¡Para estudiantes con discapacidades y sus familiares, el sistema de educación especial puede sentirse como un laberinto! Los acrónimos, páginas y páginas de datos, evaluaciones, y las frecuentes reuniones del equipo del IEP (plan individuo de educac...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.
This event is in the "Birth-Preschool" group.

Baby Rhyme Time

10:15am - 10:45am
Central Library Children’s Area
Cancelled
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Children’s Area
Age Group: Birth-Preschool
Program Type: Storytimes
Event Details:
Join us at 10:15 a.m. at Central Library for Baby Rhyme Time, with rhymes, songs, bounces, and books!  Baby Rhyme Time is aimed toward children 18 months and younger. ...

Disclaimer(s)

Central Parking

Free library parking is available in Central's underground parking garage for two hours per visit. Parking around the library is metered at various costs from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Indoor Program

This program is hosted indoors.  Please observe social distancing and follow local COVID-19 safety mandates. Hand sanitizer will be provided and staff will do their best to ensure any shared materials are disinfected between use. This program is subject to COVID-19 safety protocol updates, including room capacity limits. Please check our website for updates.

This event is in the "Adults" group.

Drop in: Halloween Coaster Coloring!

4:00pm - 6:00pm
Central Library Tech Central
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Tech Central
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Arts & Crafts, Computers & Technology
Event Details:
This drop in adult tile coloring class will give you all the fall vibes! Our new addition of the Glowforge has allowed us to engrave 4x4" tiles with Halloween themed designs. You can then color your designs with permanent markers/paint pens and take ...

Disclaimer(s)

Central Parking

Free library parking is available in Central's underground parking garage for two hours per visit. Parking around the library is metered at various costs from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Indoor Program

This program is hosted indoors.  Please observe social distancing and follow local COVID-19 safety mandates. Hand sanitizer will be provided and staff will do their best to ensure any shared materials are disinfected between use. This program is subject to COVID-19 safety protocol updates, including room capacity limits. Please check our website for updates.

This event is in the "Adults" group.

The Writers' Block

5:30pm - 6:30pm
Central Library Meeting Room 1
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Meeting Room 1
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Educational
Event Details:
Do you want to make real progress on your writing goals in a distraction free atmosphere? Want to get a head start on your November Novel for NanoWriMo? Join our writing retreat with your favorite writing utensils on Monday, October 27th at 5:30pm t...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.

Central Parking

Free library parking is available in Central's underground parking garage for two hours per visit. Parking around the library is metered at various costs from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Indoor Program

This program is hosted indoors.  Please observe social distancing and follow local COVID-19 safety mandates. Hand sanitizer will be provided and staff will do their best to ensure any shared materials are disinfected between use. This program is subject to COVID-19 safety protocol updates, including room capacity limits. Please check our website for updates.

This event is in the "Teens" group.

Anime/Manga Club

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Central Library Meeting Room 1
Registration
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Meeting Room 1
Age Group: Teens
Program Type: Arts & Crafts
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 20
Event Details:
Love anime and manga? Want to nerd out about it with other people who love it, too? Then join us for the Teen Anime/Manga Meetup! We’ll get together and discuss all things anime and manga, do crafts, play games, watch anime, and more! Ages 12-18...

Disclaimer(s)

Central Parking

Free library parking is available in Central's underground parking garage for two hours per visit. Parking around the library is metered at various costs from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Indoor Program

This program is hosted indoors.  Please observe social distancing and follow local COVID-19 safety mandates. Hand sanitizer will be provided and staff will do their best to ensure any shared materials are disinfected between use. This program is subject to COVID-19 safety protocol updates, including room capacity limits. Please check our website for updates.

This event is in the "Adults" group.

The Outreach Project

1:00pm - 3:00pm
Central Library Gateway Gallery
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Gateway Gallery
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Health & Wellness
Event Details:
The Des Moines Public Library is partnering with area organizations to connect people with community resources. Community advocates will provide information about community resources like meal sites and shelters. They may also offer support and ...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.
This event is in the "Birth-Preschool" group.
This event is in the "Children" group.

Fall Fun Scavenger Hunt!

All Day 11/1 - 11/7
Library Branch: Central Library
Age Group: Birth-Preschool, Children
Program Type: Arts & Crafts, Play & Learn, Take & Make
Event Details:
Visit the Central Library Children's Area for a Fall Fun Scavenger Hunt. Find all the fall pictures on your scavenger hunt card and win a cool prize! ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

The Outreach Project

1:00pm - 3:00pm
Central Library Gateway Gallery
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Gateway Gallery
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Health & Wellness
Event Details:
The Des Moines Public Library is partnering with area organizations to connect people with community resources. Community advocates will provide information about community resources like meal sites and shelters. They may also offer support and ...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.
This event is in the "Teens" group.
This event is in the "Adults" group.

Resume Basics for Young Adults!

4:00pm - 6:00pm
Zoom Meeting Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Meeting Room
Age Group: Teens, Adults
Program Type: Educational
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 15
Event Details:
Join us on Zoom to improve your resume game with experts from Iowa’s own Connect 2 Careers! Whether you’re looking for a job, working on school applications, or simply want to get your current resume up to snuff, this workshop will teach you to take ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

Writers' Workshop ONLINE

5:30pm - 6:30pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Educational
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 10
Event Details:
Join us online for the DMPL Writer's Workshop on the first* Monday of the month from 5:30-6:30 PM. Share samples of your work and receive feedback from other writers in the group.  If you would like to share your writing with the gr...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.
This event is in the "Children" group.

Native American Culture for Kids with CultureAll

6:30pm - 7:15pm
Zoom Meeting Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Meeting Room
Age Group: Children
Program Type: Arts & Crafts, Educational, Heritage/History Month, Take & Make
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 49
Event Details:
Families! Join the South Side Library via Zoom and celebrate Native American Heritage Month with a special presentation from CultureAll at 6:30 p.m. CultureAll Ambassador Timothy Perkins will share with kids the history of Native Americans, what Pow ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

DMPL Foundation

3:30pm - 7:00pm
Central Library Administrative Board Room
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Administrative Board Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Library Meeting
Event Details:
Meeting ...
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Central VolunTeens

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Central Library Imagination Station
Registration
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Imagination Station
Age Group: Teens
Program Type: Educational, Library Meeting
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 9
Event Details:
Central Library's VolunTeen team will meet to do projects that help the library and the community! All volunteers must fill out an application and waiver before volunteering at the library.  ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

NEA Big Reads Book Discussion-Parable of the Sower

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Book Clubs
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 8
Event Details:
Genre Voyager Book Club is taking a quick break this month, so that we can discuss the classic book, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler for the NEA Big Reads Program. This program has limited space and requires registration. Aft...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.
This event is in the "Adults" group.

DMPL Foundation

3:30pm - 7:00pm
Central Library Administrative Board Room
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Administrative Board Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Library Meeting
Event Details:
Meeting ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

The Outreach Project

1:00pm - 3:00pm
Central Library Gateway Gallery
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Gateway Gallery
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Health & Wellness
Event Details:
The Des Moines Public Library is partnering with area organizations to connect people with community resources. Community advocates will provide information about community resources like meal sites and shelters. They may also offer support and ...

Disclaimer(s)

Accessibility

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.