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 North Manchester, Indiana

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History of the North Manchester Public Library
by Davonne Rogers

Presented to the North Manchester Historical Society
October 11, 1993

I am pleased to tell you about the history of our library this evening, but first I will tell you a little about how I became connected to this library. I have always loved libraries and began working as a clerk in the Children's Department of this library in 1973 during my High School years for $.90 per hour. (Luckily, I make more than that currently!) I continued working part-time at the library while earning a B.A. in English from Manchester College graduating in 1978.
After graduation, I married and Brian and I moved away for a couple of years. I worked at the Warsaw library as a cataloguer for about 2 years, until we moved back to North Manchester in 1980. Then I began earning a Masters in Library Science from Ball State (they were accredited in Library Science at the time), and became the Children's Librarian at the Wabash Library from 1981 - 1984. I became the Director of the North Manchester Public Library in February of 1984...soon I will have been the Director for ten years, and I will have held that position the second longest! As most of you know, the Director here longest was Marie Creager who was here almost 50 years; a record I won't even try to break!
Upon researching information about the library's history, I came across a letter that Florence Freed sent to me in 1987 summarizing the connections between the Woman's Club and the beginnings of our library. Here is a quote from the letter:
The Woman's Club was formed in 1893 by "Mom" Mrs. H. B. Sheller in her parlor in the Sheller Hotel with her inviting ladies of many prominent merchants, educators, and professional men in the town. They studied Shakespeare, famous authors, inventors and learned people of a then growing America. Books of members and others in town were loaned and collected and placed in the parlor of a member, Mrs. T.C. Peugh. On certain days of the week ladies of The Woman's Club took turns serving as librarian and loaning out the books on hand. Soon the club members felt it would be great to have built our own library and they applied to Carnegie who had offered to local communities the funds for such a purpose. He granted their request providing they would provide the site and land. The club members soon launched a plan to raise funds.
They sponsored a community venture to raise funds by putting on a lyceum course bringing in such attractions as James Whitcomb Riley. Riley is said to have painted barns in the area by day and read his poems by night in the old Opera House on the second floor of the (later) Western Auto Store. In this way, the goal of the members of the Woman's Club happily provided the present Carnegie Library.
The Library began in the homes of members of the Woman's Club in the early 1900s. Later, rooms in the Town Hall were rented for library use, opening with a book shower of 100 donated books. The town officially began supporting the library through taxes in September of 1908 when a levy of $.05 per $100 of assessed valuation was set. In 1909 the first Library Board was appointed. The members were Laura Ginther, Leila Gingerick, Mary Peugh, Ida Martin, Nellie Wolfe, Rose Noftzger and Della Sheller. This Board, with the help of the Woman's Club applied to Andrew Carnegie for the library building.
Between the years 1901 - 1917, Andrew Carnegie gave 2,811 free library buildings to towns. One thousand nine hundred forty-six are in the United States and 164 are in Indiana, one of which is ours. Indiana received more Carnegie libraries than any other state.
The next step was to procure a site for the building. A Location committee was appointed: Isaac Oppenheim, W.W. Barnhart, and W. E. Billings were chosen. The Harter lot on Main Street was chosen; $1500 in private donations was raised, and the lot was purchased from Jacob Harter in June of 1910.
I spoke with Dr. Bunker about her memories of the new library building when the staff was preparing for the 80th Anniversary of the Carnegie Building. Dr. Bunker remembers the site as a large formal flower garden with rose beds toward the front.
A Building Committee was appointed: Isaac Oppenheim, Tom Peabody, A.C. Wolfe, and I. E. Gingerick. Patton and Miller, Architects from Chicago were chosen to design the library. They also designed three other libraries in Indiana - Linton, Eckhart Public Library in Auburn and the library in Kentland. Dr. Bunker says the Board requested $12,000 for the project, possibly including costs for furniture, but Carnegie gave $10,000 for the building only.
Ezra Frantz of the local Frantz Lumber Company was awarded the contract in the amount of $7225.00 The Frantz family continues to have an interest in the library as Ezra Frantz's great-grandson, Joe Frantz, currently serves on the Library Board of Trustees.
Our Carnegie building is not typical of most Carnegie libraries but a hybrid of different styles. This library building is listed in the 1983 edition of the "Historic American Buildings Survey in Indiana," and is described as "Unique among Carnegie libraries in the Midwest because of its ecclectic style with medieval overtones." Shirley Glade, a member of the Library Board, has described the style of the building as "Dutch Baroque." The twoends of the building represent bookends, - appropriate for a library!
Typical Carnegie libraries were built in the Classic Greek style with marble columns, a large flight of steps leading to the entrance, and possibly a dome with stained blass. The Wabash Carnegie Public Library is representative of a typical Carnegie library.
The cornerstone for the North Manchester Public Library building was laid on July 13th, 1911, with a cavity containing the following items: 2 copies of the "Journal," 2 copies of the "News," views of the business district, a history of the library Association, a picture of the Woman's Club, and a roster of the businesses in the town.
An article in the July 12th, 1911 edition of the "Journal" highlighted the event.

"The corner stone is of white marble twenty by fourteen by twenty inches in size and will be laid at the southeast corner of the building. For this occasion the "Journal" man called upon Horace Smith, head mason, and sought to get him to wear a high collar and a swallow tailed coat when he spread the mortar for this stone,but this he positively refused to do, claiming that he had no swallow tailed coat, and that he would not work in a high collar until there was different weather, so that part of the celebration will have to be dispensed with."

The new building first opened on April 4th, 1912 with Constance Haugen as the first librarian. In honor of the new library, Dr. Bunker remembers people bringing plants, bouquets of flowers and loaning personal collections. Dr. Bunker and her sister brought a collection of moths for display at the library.
The staff found the first patron registry for the library, and listed among the names is that of Ladoska Bunker as well as many other well-known community leaders. In July of 1912, circulation of books was 674 and expenses for the month $4.75! Current monthly circulation is usually 10,000 -12,000 items and expenses around $10,000.
Our Carnegie building is unusual in that the second floor was originally built as an auditorium or assembly room with seating for 250 people Dr. Bunker remembers many programs that drew full seating in 1912, 1913 and 1914. She describes Shakespeare plays given by a single man, J. A. Browne, who acted out "Merchant of Venice," and "Julius Caesar," but not "Twelfth Night" which he considered to be too rowdy! She also remembers travelogues presented by Otho Winger as well as art displays and exhibits in the assembly room.
In the early years, several librarians came and went. Marie Creager was first employed as an assistant at the library in 1917, became librarian in 1919 and retired at the end of 1967. Marie Creager drove the book mobile which was purchased in 1923, and Dr. Bunker often accompanied her when they delivered books to Servia, Bippus and Liberty Mills.
About 1929-30 the Children's Department expanded to the second floor and the assembly room no longer existed. Also about the same time the new Central School was built with an auditorium large enough to serve the community.
Other changes over the years include:

1914 Fire escape built on the back of the building
1922 First telephone in the building
1923 Bookmobile purchased
1929-30 Children's Department moved to second floor
1953-54 New floors in both departments
1961 Telephone added upstairs
1966-67 Dr. Bunker served one term on the Library Board
1968 Air conditioner installed
Basement lighting added and opened to the public
1969 Reading room upstairs furnished and carpeted
Book drop and parking lot added
1970 Copy Machine acquired
1976 Mural of "Alice in Wonderland" painted in the Children's Department by Barbara Keller
1980 Building study conducted
1981 Library sign purchased with memorial funds for Sue Reiff, long-time employee
About 1982 Library purchased Central School lot
1985 Basement area carpeted
1986 Main stairs carpeted
1990 Co-location study conducted
1992 80th Anniversaary of the Carnegie Building celebrated with an Authors Reception
1993 Homebound Program began with funds received from Library Services and Construction Act Grant. This helps the Library to meet some of the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Continue to work on plans for the future including a new building which would meet all requirements for all

In April of 1993 we were pleased to hear from Merlin C. Finnell, one of the authors honored at the Authors Reception in 1992. Here is an excerpt from his letter.

"It was in your library that I first had a library card - 1922. I was almost eight years old and Miss Marie Creager and her assistant Mrs. Fred Delk, allowed me to sign out six books a day. I would go to the library after school and spend time to read the current Boys Life, National Geographic and Popular Mechanics magazines.
"The highlight of my library experience came last year when you honored me, and many others by featuring us at a reception. In my retirement I have authored 17 books and in 1986 I had 'fun' writing nine "I Remember" columns for the News Journal."

So, you see, the Woman's Club had an enormously positive impact on North Manchester by making possible a library which houses 30,000 items, and provides programs and materials for all ages in an effort to enhance the recreational and educational opportunities for the whole community.
Do You Have a Story?
Do you have a story of life in and around North Manchester during earlier years? Other readers will enjoy sharing your recollections. They'll probably be inspired to remember some long forgotten story of their own. Take some time to write down your memories and either mail them to the editor of the Newsletter at P. O. Box 361, North Manchester, IN 46962 or e-mail them to