History of the Library

Crawfordsville had enjoyed a subscription library ever since the late 1830s but possessed no public institution until the end of the 19th century when several local organizations worked to found the Crawfordsville Public Library. The Ladies Library Association was formed to obtain donations of books and magazines as well as to canvass for library funds. In June 1898, the library was opened (on the corner of Main and Water streets, the present location of the Ben Hur building) with nearly 700 books and several hundred volumes of unbound magazines. The library was later relocated to the old YMCA building (the south side of the 100 block of west Main). In 1900, several members of the Commercial Club requested the assistance of millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie of New York. In a letter to Carnegie, the Commercial Club stated: Our public library is young, but growing vigorously, and will, in short time, outgrow the storeroom that now contains it. It was started three years ago by the voluntary action of our public spirited people, who, two years ago, turned it over to the city authorities, who now control it. Public sentiment will endorse an annual expenditure from public funds of $2,000 to $3,000 for its support. In March 1901, the city learned that Carnegie was willing to donate $25,000 for a free public library. The city was required to furnish a site and to support the library to the extent of $2,500 annually. The Carnegie Library/Crawfordsville Public Library was thus constructed on the corner of Washington Street and Wabash Avenue (its present location); the building was made with smooth-cut ashlar stone, and its entrance was accented by unfluted ionic columns (a style common among Carnegie libraries at that time). The library was dedicated on July 29, 1902.

The Early Years

Crawfordsville had enjoyed a subscription library ever since the late 1830s but possessed no public institution until the end of the 19th century when several local organizations worked to found the Crawfordsville Public Library. The Ladies Library Association was formed to obtain donations of books and magazines as well as to canvass for library funds. In June 1898, the library was opened (on the corner of Main and Water streets, the present location of the Ben Hur building) with nearly 700 books and several hundred volumes of unbound magazines. The library was later relocated to the old YMCA building (the south side of the 100 block of west Main). In 1900, several members of the Commercial Club requested the assistance of millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie of New York. In a letter to Carnegie, the Commercial Club stated: Our public library is young, but growing vigorously, and will, in short time, outgrow the storeroom that now contains it. It was started three years ago by the voluntary action of our public spirited people, who, two years ago, turned it over to the city authorities, who now control it. Public sentiment will endorse an annual expenditure from public funds of $2,000 to $3,000 for its support. In March 1901, the city learned that Carnegie was willing to donate $25,000 for a free public library. The city was required to furnish a site and to support the library to the extent of $2,500 annually. The Carnegie Library/Crawfordsville Public Library was thus constructed on the corner of Washington Street and Wabash Avenue (its present location); the building was made with smooth-cut ashlar stone, and its entrance was accented by unfluted ionic columns (a style common among Carnegie libraries at that time). The library was dedicated on July 29, 1902.

The Library Gets Its First Book

Crawfordsville had enjoyed a subscription library ever since the late 1830s but possessed no public institution until the end of the 19th century when several local organizations worked to found the Crawfordsville Public Library. The Ladies Library Association was formed to obtain donations of books and magazines as well as to canvass for library funds. In June 1898, the library was opened (on the corner of Main and Water streets, the present location of the Ben Hur building) with nearly 700 books and several hundred volumes of unbound magazines. The library was later relocated to the old YMCA building (the south side of the 100 block of west Main). In 1900, several members of the Commercial Club requested the assistance of millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie of New York. In a letter to Carnegie, the Commercial Club stated: Our public library is young, but growing vigorously, and will, in short time, outgrow the storeroom that now contains it. It was started three years ago by the voluntary action of our public spirited people, who, two years ago, turned it over to the city authorities, who now control it. Public sentiment will endorse an annual expenditure from public funds of $2,000 to $3,000 for its support. In March 1901, the city learned that Carnegie was willing to donate $25,000 for a free public library. The city was required to furnish a site and to support the library to the extent of $2,500 annually. The Carnegie Library/Crawfordsville Public Library was thus constructed on the corner of Washington Street and Wabash Avenue (its present location); the building was made with smooth-cut ashlar stone, and its entrance was accented by unfluted ionic columns (a style common among Carnegie libraries at that time). The library was dedicated on July 29, 1902.