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 "Children" group.
Library Branch: Central Library
Age Group: Children
Program Type: Arts & Crafts
Event Details:
The Central Library and the After School Arts Program (ASAP)  will be offering an activity that includes a scavenger hunt and an art project to celebrate the Des Moines Art Festival.  These bags will be available at the pickup window or ins...
This event is in the "Adults" group.
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Meeting Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Educational, Heritage/History Month
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 77
Event Details:
In May 1917, the United States opens the very first Officers Training Camp for Black men in military history. The location – Fort Des Moines. Over the next six months, 1,200 Black men are trained to lead segregated commands in World War I, all the wh...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

DMPL Virtual Book Club- The Unkindness of Ghosts

6:00pm - 7:00pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Book Clubs
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 10
Event Details:
Join us on Zoom for the DMPL Virtual Book Club. This month, we will be discussing The Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon.  This program has limited space and requires registration. After registration, you will receive a confirmation ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

City of Des Moines - Benchmarking DSM Training

9:00am - 11:00am
Central Library Tech Hub
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Tech Hub
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Educational
Event Details:
On June 3, 2019, the Des Moines City Council passed the Energy and Water Benchmarking Ordinance requiring building owners of buildings 25,000 sq. ft or larger to benchmark energy and water use and submit to the City annually by July 1st. Join City...
This event is in the "Children" group.
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Learn to Slay: Intro to Dungeons & Dragons

3:00pm - 4:30pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Children, Teens
Program Type: Educational, Gaming
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 35
Event Details:
Have you ever wanted to slay a dragon, raid a dungeon treasure room, or even save a village from an evil bandit horde? Always wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons, but didn’t know where to start? Join us as we learn the basics of how to get started ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

City of Des Moines - Benchmarking DSM Training

3:00pm - 5:00pm
Central Library Tech Hub
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Tech Hub
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Educational
Event Details:
On June 3, 2019, the Des Moines City Council passed the Energy and Water Benchmarking Ordinance requiring building owners of buildings 25,000 sq. ft or larger to benchmark energy and water use and submit to the City annually by July 1st. Join...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

Take & Make: Rainbow Windsock

6:00pm - 7:00pm
Zoom Meeting Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Meeting Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Arts & Crafts, Educational
Registration Required
Waitlist Seats Remaining: 0
Event Details:
Let's celebrate summertime with rainbow windsocks! A windsock is made up of different materials tied onto a hoop that dances in the wind. We will provide the hoop, colorful materials to tie to the hoop, bells and twine to hang it up with for FREE wit...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

DSM Book Festival Book Club: The Last House Guest

7:00pm - 8:00pm
Online Programming
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Online Programming
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Book Clubs
Event Details:
The Des Moines Public Library is partnering with the DSM Book Festival's DSM Book Club to cohost its online book discussion.  The DSM Book Club is an online sharing session designed to showcase Des Moines' favorite reads. This club will ...
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Teen Resume Basics with Connect 2 Careers

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Central Library Tech Hub
Registration
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Tech Hub
Age Group: Teens
Program Type: Educational
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 0
Event Details:
Learn how to create an awesome resume from presenters at Connect 2 Careers! Whether you’re looking for a job, working on school applications, or applying to experience programs, a resume will help you stand out from the crowd. Our partners at C2C wil...

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.

This event is in the "Children" group.

Virtual Stories, Songs and Movement!

10:15am - 10:45am
Online Programming
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Online Programming
Age Group: Children
Program Type: Storytimes
Event Details:
A Day at the Beach. Bring your imagination and join Miss Donna on Facebook as we read books, sing and move our bodies in this playful story time about the world we live in. Ages two and up. ...

Disclaimer(s)

Children’s Program

Children under 10 years old must be accompanied by a caregiver over 12 years old.

This event is in the "Teens" group.

Teen Pride Series

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Teens
Program Type: Educational, Health & Wellness
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 7
Event Details:
This Pride Month, join DMPL and our partners at Iowa Safe Schools and UCS Healthcare to talk about LGBTQ issues, ask questions, and discover awesome resources! In this four-session series, you’ll meet other teens in the community like you who are int...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

Caffeinated Conversations with Ben McDougal

6:00pm - 7:00pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Adults
Program Type: Educational
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 50
Event Details:
Welcome to an energizing experience for students, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs! Ben McDougal is a tech founder, multimedia marketer, and Des Moines based author of You Don't Need This Book. Ben is an experienced entrepreneur and&...
This event is in the "All Ages" group.
Library Branch: Central Library
Age Group: All Ages
Program Type: Arts & Crafts
Event Details:
Make a State Fair-style "butter" sculpture using yellow Play-Doh. Create your family friendly entry using current events, themes from your favorite book, movies/television, or clever puns! Cow sculptures welcome but not required. A limit...
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Awesome Interviews with Connect 2 Careers

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Central Library Tech Hub
Registration
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Tech Hub
Age Group: Teens
Program Type: Educational
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 7
Event Details:
Thinking of applying for a summer or after-school job? Chances are you’ll have to go to an interview. Learn how to give an awesome one from presenters at Connect 2 Careers. They’ll teach you everything you need to know, from professional communicatio...

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.

Independence Day

All Day 7/4 - 7/5
Branches:
Central Library, East Side Library, Forest Avenue Library, Franklin Avenue Library, North Side Library, South Side Library, Off Site, DMPL Virtual
Description:
All locations will be closed Sunday and Monday in observance of Independence Day. ...
This event is in the "Teens" group.
This event is in the "Adults" group.

Join the Ukulele Craze and Learn How to Play

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Teens, Adults
Program Type: Educational
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 8
Event Details:
Get started on the ukulele and quickly learn to play familiar tunes while having fun! Play your own ukulele or borrow one of North Side Library's soprano ukuleles with your library card. Natalie Steenson will facilitate this 4-week class, t...
This event is in the "Children" group.
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Learn to Slay: Intro to Dungeons & Dragons

3:00pm - 4:30pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Children, Teens
Program Type: Educational, Gaming
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 35
Event Details:
Have you ever wanted to slay a dragon, raid a dungeon treasure room, or even save a village from an evil bandit horde? Always wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons, but didn’t know where to start? Join us as we learn the basics of how to get started ...
This event is in the "Adults" group.

DMPL Virtual Genre Voyager Book Club

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:
What do the terms romance, mystery, fiction, sci-fi bring to mind? Have you ever wondered if there is more to these terms than what meets the eye? Are you looking to expand your reading horizons? Every season, roughly every 3 months, we move on to...
This event is in the "Children" group.
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Seems Sus: Deduction Gaming with The Dealt Hand!

4:00pm - 5:30pm
Central Library Lawn
Registration
Library Branch: Central Library
Room: Central Library Lawn
Age Group: Children, Teens
Program Type: Gaming
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 30
Event Details:
Do you love games likes Among Us, watching for who’s acting sus, and putting together clues? Then you’ll want to join us on the Central Library Lawn to play awesome deduction games from our local gaming partner The Dealt Hand! Can you find the imp...

Disclaimer(s)

Inclement Weather

This program is hosted outdoors. In case of inclement weather please check back here for updates. 

This event is in the "Children" group.
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Age Group: Children
Program Type: Storytimes
Event Details:
 Miss Mary will be joined for this storytime by Mr. Jay.  He is an ASL certified interpreter at Capitol View Elementary in Des Moines.  We will sing, do some rhymes and read a story all with sign language interpretation by Mr. Jay...
This event is in the "Children" group.

Fairy Garden At-Home Kits

07/12/2021 @ 9:00am - 07/18/2021 @ 5:00pm
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Age Group: Children
Program Type: Arts & Crafts
Event Details:
Stop by curbside or inside the Central Library to pick up a Fairy Garden Kit to make at home with your family! These kits are suitable for children ages 4-12 and will contain some small parts that should have adult supervision.  No lar...
This event is in the "Children" group.

Mighty Girl Empowerment Series

2:30pm - 4:00pm
Zoom Program Room
Registration
Library Branch: DMPL Virtual
Room: Zoom Program Room
Age Group: Children
Program Type: Educational, Health & Wellness
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 15
Event Details:
Are you a mighty girl*? Ready to become a mighty woman but have questions? Then join DMPL and community experts to get your questions answered in this five-session series. Know your body, know yourself, and get empowered! Session topics ...