The first effort to organize a library in the City of Huntington occurred in 1874, and was called the Public School Library Association. It consisted of Life Members and Yearly Members. The Life Membership fee was $12.00, and the yearly membership feel was $2.00. Mr. James Baldwin, superintendent of the city schools, was the first President. The original Central School Building gave space for the books that constituted the Library, which in a short time possessed over 1,200 volumes, many of which had belonged to the famous Mechanics’ and Working Men’s Library established by William McClure, who founded the New Harmony Library in Indiana.
The first Librarian was Miss Melinda M. Embree, a teacher in the public schools. Her successor was Miss Eliza A. Collins, who was an enthusiastic and active worker. Mr. James Roche, a brother of John Roche, was the next librarian,and he was followed my Miss Mary Hawley.
In 1889, the Library was reorganized according to Indiana state law, which transformed the Library into a free library, thus reaching more people in the community. Miss Maggie C. Dailey was the first Librarian to serve under the new law, holding her position until 1898. She was succeeded by Miss Lyle Harter.
In December of 1901, the School Board of Huntington received a letter from Mr. Andrew Carnegie, offering $25,000 for the erection of a Library building. In January of 1902, the Board formally accepted Mr. Carnegie’s offer. After much debate, a site was selected and building began. The Carnegie building was opened to the public on February 21, 1903. It marked the first time a library in Huntington was provided with separate facilities and recognized as an individual institution. The Carnegie library contained about 8,300 volumes when it opened.
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