When Gustavus Adolphus College opened in Red Wing, Minnesota during 1862, the school had one student and no library. Student numbers increased during 1863 when the school moved to East Union, Carver County, Minnesota, but the institution still lacked a library. The school’s first book collection arrived near the end of the Civil War when books of a former student were given to the institution. School leaders complimented the donation by purchasing a large dictionary. From the mid-1860s through the school’s move to St. Peter during 1876, the book collection remained small.
The newly named Gustavus Adolphus College housed the collection in the Main Building, now Old Main. During the late 1800s, the library was small and underutilized; it was only open one hour per week -- on Saturday mornings. The facility began expanding during the early 20th Century as the college’s student body grew, and the necessity for outside research increased. Due to the collection’s growth and the college’s need for space, the library moved from Old Main into a number of different buildings including Uhler Hall, Commerce Hall, and the former President’s Home.
The need for a dedicated library building became apparent and funds were raised for a new building during the mid to late 1940s. As a result of these efforts, the college’s new library opened during September 1948. It was named and rededicated in memory of the late Count Folke Bernadotte during June 1950. Although the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library was designed as a library, the collection soon outgrew the building. Plans were made during the late 1960s for the construction of a new library. The current Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library building, with 90,000 square feet of floor space, opened during September 1972.