Library Cards in Crown Point: 110 Years of “Signing Up”
The Library has served the community for 110 years as the Crown Point Community Library. Opening in 1908, after 2 years of planning and building, the Crown Point Carnegie Library was accessible to those in Crown Point and Center Township. The Carnegie Library at Crown Point was named after philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who gave $12,000 toward the building and establishment of the library. He felt so strongly that communities should have free access to knowledge that he donated over $60 million to fund 1,689 public libraries across the United States.
Prior to the Carnegie library, there was a brief existence of a McClure (Maclure/McLure) Library Association. After earning his fortune and helping to form New Harmony, William Maclure died in 1840. His last will established funds for the formation of Workingmen’s Institutes in Indiana communities, modeled after the one in New Harmony. It took 15 years to settle his estate and allow for the distribution of funds starting in 1855. The will required the following: the group had to serve proof that members were laborers, the library had to have an initial inventory of 100 volumes, and there had to be a place to gather – illustrate these requirements and you were awarded $500. However, the funds only went so far – no additional funds would be granted, there were no rules on how to administer the books, and the institute didn’t need to have a permanent home.
As in the case of the Crown Point Maclure Institute, which originated in 1857, many Workingmen’s Institutes ceased operations shortly after they were established due to lack of sustainability. 20 years after the moneys started distribution, only 17 of the 149 clubs were still in existence in 1875. Crown Point’s only lasted another 10 years before it ceased existence. The exact location for the Crown Point Workingmen’s is unknown; it is suspected to have rotated among members of the club. The collection was no longer used and the club was finally disbanded in 1885. At that time, the remaining volumes of the collection were donated to the high school. It would be another 23 years before the community had a library again.
In 1906, interested Crown Pointers organized a 9 member board to establish the Crown Point Library. Early in 1908, property was purchased and construction began on Main Street thanks to the Carnegie donation. The library opened before the year ended. For over 63 years, the Carnegie library served Crown Point, Center and Winfield Townships. This area was growing so much that the library needed to grow too. In 1971, construction began on the expansion of the library and it was completed at the end of 1972. January 4, 1973, was the open house of the new library, with its new entrance on Court Street. Approximately 1000 books were checked out on that day!
Since the new library was built, the Carnegie Library was renovated as the library offices and public meeting space. Library card holders increased 8% in the first 4 years of opening the new library – 36% of the library’s service area were card holders. Both the Crown Point area and the library saw much expansion over the next 40 years. So much so that it became evident the library had outgrown its space. Since there was no room to expand at its Court Street location, the library board began looking at other options in Crown Point.
The current library building on North Main Street, 3 times bigger than the old location, opened in October 2012. Library card holders have increased at a high rate since the opening of this new library building. The year before it opened, only 55% of all service area residents were card holders. That increased by almost 20% by the year after this building opened. Today, 6 years since this library facility opened its door, 85% of service area residents are card holders. Crown Point is an active, library supporting community – the community definitely are incredible library card holders!