Iowa’s Most Beautiful Library

Not only is the State Law Library of Iowa the most beautiful in Iowa, it frequently makes the list of the most beautiful libraries in the entire world. The library is housed on the second floor of the Iowa State Capitol Building between the House and Senate chambers.  It was moved to its current location back in 1886.  

Address: State Capitol Building, Rm 200, 1007 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA.

Phone: 800-248-4483 or 515-281-5124

Hours: Open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Looking over the library from the first floor of the collections.

It’s a Victorian-style grand hall with ornately painted ceilings, spectacular finished wood, and stained glass.  It’s home to approximately 105,000 volumes, mostly of law and case studies. 

One of the most stunning features of the library is the winding wrought iron staircases. There are two staircases, one on the north and another on the south end of the library. They were built in 1882 and 1883 and contain very intricate details. The staircases lead to five floors of the library’s collection and are also protected by wrought iron railings that are original to the building.

The library is also host to ash and chestnut wood finishes, marble wainscoting, an encaustic tile floor, and spectacular chandeliers.  The atrium reaches up five stories to a stained glass window that was installed back in the 1880s.

The interior side of the entrance to the State of Iowa Law Library.

Is the State Law Library of Iowa open to the public?

Yes, it is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm, except on state holidays.   The reference desk with staffed librarians is also available to the public.  They also have free wifi and the public is welcome to use the library for research or just a quiet space to study.  Please note that the public must go through security screening on the west or south side to enter the state capitol building.  

One of the spiral staircases that reaches the many levels of the library. Note: the public can only access the first level of the staircase.

Is it a functioning library?

Yes, the library is frequently used by lawmakers and the legal community for their legal collection, case law, and legislature materials.  The public is also welcome to use the library and can even check out materials with an official state library card. 

Can you walk up the spiral staircases to the top floor?

At this time, the spiral staircases are only open for the public to reach the first floor.   Access beyond the first floor is reserved for librarians. 

It’s frequently listed as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

Are you allowed to take photos or videos in the State of Iowa Law Library? 

Yes, taking photos and videos are permitted in the publicly accessible areas of the Law Library.  However, larger equipment is not permitted. 

Are tours of the Iowa State Capitol available?

Yes, free tours are offered daily at the Iowa State Capitol, visit for details. 

Looking towards the ceiling at the State of Iowa Law Library.
One of the two spiral staircases in the library.
A view of stained glass installed on the ceiling at the law library.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply