History of the Library

In the early 1900s, Andrew Carnegie donated $50,000 to build Anderson Public Library at the corner of Tenth and Jackson streets. The city's only Neo-classical structure (completed in 1905) includes extraordinary craftsmanship such as oak fireplaces, a stained glass rotunda, classic columns, marble stairway, and special lighting. 

In the late 1980s, the Library Board of Trustees recognized the need for more space and for anticipated growth of services, so they selected a Sears & Roebuck building (former site of the Main Street School) with 95,000 square feet at 12th Street and Central Avenue. Following extensive renovation, the building opened in 1987. APL serves more than a thousand people each day and offers more than a quarter of a million resources.

  • 1905—On April 20, the public was invited to tour the new building. That evening, a public dedication was held at Central Christian Church. The Library Board “turned [the building] over to the people as a place where knowledge may be sought without money and without price.” Library service began at 9:00 a.m. the next day.
  • 1916—Indiana Room is established in honor of the Indiana centennial.
  • 1926—On January 21, the library is established as a separate taxing district. The Children’s Room becomes the Peter Pan Room and is moved to the basement in November.
  • 1940—Adult reference service begins. Student book collections are delivered to 13 Anderson Township schools without libraries. The library initiates hospital service to St. John’s.
  • 1955—The library purchases its first Bookmobile, which provides service to schools. The library’s 50th anniversary is celebrated with a Sunday open house and banquet at the YMCA.
  • 1969—The library changes its name, from Anderson Carnegie Public Library to Anderson Public Library.
  • 1972—The Lapel branch opens August 7.
  • 1973—The Library Board begins searching for a new building site.
  • 1985—The Carnegie building is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • 1987—Opening weekend (October 23-25) in the library's new home is marked by three events: a Friday open house for teachers and school personnel; a Saturday evening gala for staff and building project workers and volunteers with author Fred Mustard Stewart; and a Sunday afternoon open house for the community with Senator Richard Lugar. David Bucove is given the Chief Anderson award by the city and the Library Board is awarded the Community Service Council’s Achievement Award.
  • 1988—Union Township joins the library district.
  • 1998—The mortgage is burned and the new library is paid off.
  • 2001—A major library renovation creates new meeting rooms and enlarges the audio-visual and computer areas.

Pictures Through the Decades


https://asoft8152.accrisoft.com/andlibin/clientuploads/Library History/Pre-1905masonlib-72.jpg


1905 carnegie building
From 1879, when the Anderson Library was first incorporated, to 1905, the library had several homes. The 2nd Floor of the Masonic Temple, where this picture was taken, was the last before moving into the Carnegie Building.   The Carnegie Building, constructed in 1905 with a $50,000 gift from Andrew Carnegie, was APL's home for 82 years. The lot at 10th and Jackson was a gift from the city, which originally intended to build a city building there.

1920 Children's reading

1920 young and old
Beginning in the late 1920's, the Library gave a series of popular programs designed to promote Children's Reading. The plays, all about a mythical kingdom called Bookland, had costumes and scenery made by staff and scripts written by librarian Margaret Wade   Young and old, rich and poor were invited to use the library and its riches. These young ladies searching the Children's Book shelves were obviously dressed up for a trip downtown.

1930 Vacation Reading Club

clientuploads/Library History/1940christm50-72.gif
1933 graduates of the library's Vacation Reading Club demonstrate the continued popularity of the library's special programming for children.   A 1940's renovation of the Children's area was featured in a national library publication and shows up well in the 1940's Christmas party for Children.

clientuploads/Library History/1950-1-55bkmb-72.jpg

1955 Lois
In 1955, library service took to the roads with the purchase of our first bookmobile.   In 1955, festive events marked the 50th anniversary of the Carnegie Building. Here 1940's era librarian Lois Ringo Heraty congratulates head librarian Ethel Albright on a successful celebration.


1970 Bookmobile wheelchair accessible
In January 1969, the library board hired David Bucove to replace Ethel Albright. He would stay 23 years and lead the library through profound changes, including the remodeling of the Sears Building for the library's new home.   Among the innovative services initiated by the library in the 1970's was the Outreach Bookmobile Service, which focused on senior citizens and the physically handicapped. A bookmobile fitted with a wheelchair lift allowed persons with mobility problems access to a large variety of books and programming.

1980 full library

1990 third floor meeting room
By the 1980's, the Carnegie Building was crowded with books, audio-visual items, furniture and people, but creative staff didn't allow lack of space to keep them from adding new services.   The library’s third floor area was converted to meeting room space during a renovation in the late 1990s. The area also became the new home for the Friends of Anderson Public Library, allowing more room for bustling book sales like the one pictured here.

2000Beth Oljace
Beth Oljace (left) stands by as a guest thumbs through old library memorabilia. Oljace prepared multiple displays featuring historical library materials at APL’s centennial celebration in April 2005.    


Pictures of the Library

Carnegie Library 1905-1987
The Anderson Center for the Arts 1998-Present
   Main Street School 1888-1944
 Carnegie Library    Main Street School
 Sears & Roebuck 1947-1983    Anderson Public Library 1987-Present
 Sears and Roebuck    APL New
Anderson Public Library, 2017  
   APL 2017


APL Directors

  • Katherine A. "Kate" Chipman, 1898-1914
  • Mabel A. Wayne, 1915-1919
  • Margaret A. Wade, 1920-1939
  • Lois Ringo, 1940-1952
  • Ethel Albright, 1952-1968
  • David A. Bucove, 1969-1992
  • Sarah "Sally" Hunt, 1993-1997
  • Marsha Grove, 1998-2003
  • Sarah Later, 2003-present