Oskaloosa Store Keeps Books in the Vaults

OSKALOOSA, Iowa  --  A cold day in winter is a great time to curl up with a book. The website Travel Iowa, run by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, has named The Book Vault in Oskaloosa one of Iowa’s coziest places to visit during this season.

The Book Vault was at one time a bank started in 1892 by the people who were running the coal mines down at Buxton. The bookstore has not just one vault, but three.

“This is the Iowa Vault, this is full of books written about Iowa, by an Iowan, or about an Iowan," said April Gorski, the Manager of The Book Vault. “The Discovery Vault is what we think of as more hands-on for children. It might be a puzzle book, it might be origami.”

A vault on the main floor houses murder and mystery books.

Gorski recently met a woman who used to work in the building when it served as a bank. She donated a typewriter used in the bank.

“I asked her what this vault was used for. She said she didn’t know there was a vault upstairs, she wasn’t allowed up here,” said Gorski.

The space was restored 12 years ago, along with Smokey Row Coffee Shop located next door.

“None of us live in homes that are this beautiful, that is for sure, it’s a pleasure to come to this space every day,” said Gorski. “It’s a wonderful place to work, it’s got a great ambiance, we’re right next to Smokey Row, you can grab yourself a cup of coffee.”

Gorski is used to taking questions from history lovers about the bank. Her main mission is to help customers find the books they want.

“On a day like today when schools let out for the day, by mid-afternoon we’re going to have kids in here with their parents looking at books to keep them busy the rest of the day,” said Gorski.