Marvin Memorial Library began as a reading room June 4, 1897 in a small rented room at the Sutter-Higgins block. Miss Carrie Marvin was hired as the first librarian of the 300 book collection. The librarian's uncle, Dan Marvin, took interest in the reading room and saw a need for better accommodations. He purchased a house on West Whitney Avenue for $6,500 and presented it to the city. This house was originally built in 1867 by Dr. Bricker who was a physician.

Dan Marvin was a veteran of the Civil War. He participated in the battles of Shiloh & Stone River, and was severely wounded. His generosity to the city was greatly appreciated and memorialized in the name of the library.

The library has had renovations since the house was donated by Dan Marvin. In 1981 a large addition was added on to the house which shifted the adult collection into a new area allowing the old house to hold primarily children materials. The original fireplace was kept, along with the spiral staircase that ascended to the upstairs apartments where the head librarians once lived.