About Your LibraryThe Library was founded in 1904 by the Wednesday Literary Club. With the help of a school teacher named Luther Haines, the group began lending books from the street level room of the telephone company building on Main Street. That same year, an official board of trustees was formed to govern the Library. They appointed the first librarian, Miss Mabel Wells, on May 18, 1904.
In 1911, the library received a grant from the Carnegie Corporation for a library building. The new building became a reality a few years later, and was dedicated on June 6, 1914. The collection consisted of 5,847 books.
By the late 1960s, the Library had outgrown the Carnegie building. Ground was broken for a new building in October 1971, and in August 1972, the facility at 515 E. Main Street opened. More than 21,000 books were moved from the Carnegie building to the new facility by a group of volunteers who called themselves "The Book Brigade."
It wasn't long before the Library outgrew this building as well. By 1980, the collection had increased to 51,954 books and more than 1,600 recordings. The facility was expanded in 1986 to 34,000 square feet - doubling its size - and the name changed to "Carmel Clay Public Library" to reflect the entire service area of Carmel and Clay Township.
The library expansion was only a temporary solution to the space issue, and in 1996, plans were underway for a new building on a nearby site that was larger and could accommodate the ongoing needs of a growing community.
The planning process resulted in the current library at 55 Fourth Avenue SE, which opened on May 2, 1999. The new building is just west of the 1970s building and across Main Street from Carmel High School. It is 116,000 square feet, with shelving space for 300,000 books, 46,000 audiovisual items and 665 periodicals.
The new building was also designed to provide the latest technological tools for both patrons and staff. A high speed fiber optic backbone and Internet access enables users to access the information they need quickly. The Library introduced a wireless network in 2003, which has steadily increased in usage ever since.
In 2008, significant changes were made to the building to enhance service to the public. An early childhood literacy center and a "tween" area were added to the Children's & Youth Services Department, individual study rooms were created in the Audiovisual area, a book club room was built into the existing Periodical Reading Room, and more comfortable seating areas and enhanced lighting were added throughout the building.
Outside, the public parking lot was remodeled for improved safety, while parking for physically challenged patrons was relocated to the front of the building for easier access. The circle island was enhanced by the addition of a sculpture and garden of flowers and shrubs.
In 2012, carpeting throughout the building was replaced and the terrazzo floor in the main hallway, lobby and staircase refinished.
Currently, as 2013 draws to a close, the Library, Foundation and Friends are planning a 100th Anniversary celebration of the Carnegie building. Activities and special events will take place beginning in January 2014, and culminate with a grand finale celebration in June 2014.
With its philosophy of providing superior service, efficient access to information and relevant programming to the Carmel Clay community, the Library is positioned to meet and exceed the expectations of stakeholders well into the future.