Book Vault in Oskaloosa

It’s my favorite book store in Iowa – where they store their valuables (books) in the vaults! Yes, no kidding – there are three vaults and they keep specific themes in each of the vaults.

One vault is dedicated to Iowa – either written by an Iowan or a book about Iowa. The second vault houses mysteries and true crimes. Can you imagine sitting in an old bank vault previewing true crime books? Errie! The last vault is reserved for a discovery theme for children.

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A walk into the Mystery / True Crime Vault at the Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

During our most recent visit, my wife was exploring the children’s section on the 2nd floor and was approached by a four-year-old boy – “Have you seen this book?” She responded with “I have not seen it, is it good?” He went on to tell describe it and tell her how good it was. “It’s a good one, you have to see this one”. It was called ” Farm Tails” by Scholastic, where the tail of each farm animal is sticking out of the book. My wife was pulled in by his enthusiasm and she did purchase the book for our granddaughter. She even asked at the front counter, if there’s any way to give the four-year-old his sales commission.

Location: 105 S. Market, Oskaloosa, IA, 52577


The history of the Book Vault

The building originally opened in 1892 as a bank when the nearby town of Buxton was running coal mines. In 2005 it was converted to a book store by owners Nancy Simpson and Julie Hansen. It opened to the public on Dec 3rd, 2005.

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A walk into the Iowa Vault inside the Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Book Vault was named one of the coziest places in Iowa back in 2016 by Travel Iowa – and cozy is exactly the right word. Starting out front, the exterior of the building still speaks of its banking years with the large columns, but narrow storefront. It’s nestled between Smokey Row Coffee and Brown’s Shoe Fit.

Inside the Discovery Vault on the 2nd floor, which is dedicated to children’s books.

The entrance to the mystery/true crime vault on the first floor.

It was here in the children’s section on the 2nd floor where my wife was approached by an eager 4 year old, making sure she was aware of the book “Farm Tails”

The building was originally Osakloosa Home Loan Savings Bank. When it closed in 1962, Sharron McCrea took the typewriter home that was next to the teller’s window. In 2017, Sharron donated the typewriter back to the same location, which now serves as the bookstore called Book Vault.

The narrow storefront still reminds you of their banking years.

The Book Vault has an inside door that connects to the Smokey Row Coffee, where you can get a drink and sit back to enjoy your purchases.

If you visit during the month of December, be sure to stay after sunset to check out the holiday lights on the town square in Oskaloosa.

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