Every city village and community have tabulated on their records and in the minds of the people, certain dates of events from which the history of that particular community reckons it’s epochs. The dedication of the New Carlisle Public Library is such an event in our community. In October of the year 1898, was organized what is known as the “C.C. Club”* an organization of them, “Young Women” whose purpose was literary work and social entertainment for it’s members.
In the summer of 1900, as the members of the C.C. Club were planning the work for the coming year. The idea was suggested of enlarging the field of work and of doing something in which the public might receive some benefit. Two years of “club” life had shown it’s value and also it’s possibilities. Women were forgiving to the front, in all fields, and club women were doing much for the public and in all parts of the country. The thought that we too might do something (or at least attempt it and that we ought not selfishly to work only for ourselves, led to many discussions. Out of these came the plan to work for a “Public Library” for New Carlisle. We had each and all felt the need of it, the libraries of South Bend and LaPorte were much used by the club members and the fact that traveling libraries had always had liberal patronage led us to think that if we could successfully carry out our plans it would be a great benefit to our town. The first definite action was taken at an August (1900) meeting, when a committee was appointed to work for library movement and it was decided to devote the club fines and dues to the same cause.
January 4, 1901, the first attempt to interest the public was made when a book carnival and evening of advertising was given in the K. of P. Hall. The K.P.’s kindly donated the use of their hall. Miss (Woolman and a male) quartette, Mr. Miles Frances Sharp and Brockway furnished the music and Miss Grace McComber of Boston Mass. gave several readings. It might be of interest to New Carlisle people to note that $8.05 was realized from this evenings entertainment.
Feb. 22nd, a Washington Tea Party was given at the K.P. Hall, a “Hatchet Drill” under the direction of Mrs. Frances, was the special feature and $5.80 was added to our fund. May the 3rd, Rolla Lancaster donated the use of the “Opera House” and through the kindness of Elbel Bros. South Bend a musical was given by which $30.90 was cleared. This gave us near $50.00 to begin work with and the following committees were appointed Book Purchasing Place for Library Printing of Rules for Library and Soliciting. The K of P’s donated the use of their front room two afternoons and evenings of each week (Tuesday and Saturday.) The soliciting committee received donations to the amount of $20.50. In July, the “Women’s Club” entertained the “C.C. Club” socially and presented to them 76 volumes since that time books have been received from Downer’s Grove, South Bend, Detroit and other places and from our own home people.
November of 1901, Miss Merica Hoagland, the state organizer of libraries came to assist us in starting the work. It was decided to take the name of “Public Library Association of New Carlisle” any person contributing to the library to become a member of the association not living in New Carlisle. February 21,1902, the library was formally opened by air address by Miss Merica Hoagland of Indianapolis. A history of work was given by Miss Ada Miller. Also an address was given by Prof. J. N. Rittinger. About 50 people attended the meeting and inspected the books.
February 22, at 1 o’clock, the library was opened for loaning books. Miss. Hoagland directing the work. Jay Sharp received the first membership card and book. (House boat on the Styx.) Library contained 173 classified volumes, 9 volumes of government reports, and 13 books unclassified. Received during the day 4 books, $1 in money, 24 copies of McCluries magazines, also Jan. Youth Companions, 37 cards issued, 33 books loaned. At first, the “C.C. Club” members volunteered to be librarian in turn as there were no funds to hire a librarian, but later a qualified librarian was employed.
From this time on up until July 1918, the New Carlisle Public Library was maintained and enlarged in much the same fashion as in the beginning. Public entertainment’s serving of banquets, tag days and bazzar’s being the chief source of revenue. We were always given a hearty approved by the public and their substantial support. Overtures were made to the Carneige Library Association to Miss Helen Gould and others for aid in this library work but they were of no avail. This ends the first chapter in the history of the Public Library of New Carlisle.
In the later part of the year 1916, there came into our midst from a neighboring city, La Porte, a young man Mr. Don Grafford by name, who had just purchased “The Journal” Our weekly newspaper at that time, a man who was full of ambition for the public spirit, and of enthusiasm for the future of New Carlisle who through the columns of his paper continually “boosted” our city. Through this influence and efforts, largely, our enter-prizing businessmen came together to organize “The New Carlisle Chamber of Commerce”. The first meeting for organization was held Feb. 9, 1917 in the K of P Hall.
The following week another meeting was held in the (“Migit Theatre.”) Officers were elected, and rules and regulations formulated and committee appointed among these committees was a “Library Committee” which was to investigate the library question and see just what were the needs of our city. On March the 2nd, was another meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, during which a discussion of conditions under which the Carneige Library Association would give aid; the library committee was instructed to investigate.
In the meantime, it had been learned that Mr. Arthur Hubbard of South Bend would willingly donate his property on Michigan Street and in the business district, to be used for some public purpose but it must be for public use only. This news was made known at the chamber of commerce meeting April 13th. The library committee was also completed at this meeting. June 8th, the Sec’y of the library committee reported to the chamber of commerce that 50 tax pay ere of Olive Township had signed a petition to stand back of the Carnegie Library movement in and for Olive Township.
On February 8th 1918, almost a year to the day after the organization (of “New Carlisle Chamber of Commerce” it was) reported by the Sec’y of the Library Committee to the Chamber of Commerce that the grounds were ready to be secured. Mr. Hubbard and wife having written that they were ready to deed the lots to the proper authority to be nice as a place to build a public library also that the Carneige appropriation for building had been Okayed. Tax levies for maintenance of library settled and library board appointed all in accordance with the laws of the state of Indiana referring to libraries and library work taking the name of the New Carlisle and Olive Township Library Board.
Following this in July, the New Carlisle Library Association turned over at a formal meeting of its library with the members of the New Carlisle and Olive Township Library Board. All books, which then numbered some 1500 volumes, with papers and belongings to become the property of the New Carlisle and Olive Township Library.
The present library board consists of Dr. Hall Pres. A.R. Brummitt, Fred Zeck, Lot C. Runnels, Mrs. C.D. White, Mrs. Wm Miller, Mrs. Phillilis. Thus from the small beginnings had grown what was now to be a larger beginning of a greater work. And who is responsible for the New Carlisle Public Library and fine new building? Let us first thank Mr. Arthur Hubbard of South Bend for the sight on which the Library Building has been erected. Then we next extend our thanks to the Carneige Library Association and any other out of town help. Next, the mobile public spirited men and women of our town and surrounding country who so earnestly and faithfully worked for this public benefit also the K of P’s who furnished a home for the library during its transition period. And lastly the splendid cooperation of the general public in this movement. Our library stands surely as a movement of community interest and sentiment.
* Carlisle Clover Club
Written by: Mrs. H.E. Taylor