About the Huntington Library

vintage photo of carnegie library

Carnegie library circa 1905.

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 by 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.

Library Directors

Director Years
Miss Lyle Harter 1903-1904
Miss Winifred F. Ticer 1904-1922
Miss Priscilla J. MacArthur 1922-1955
Mrs. Clarence (Velma Snider) Weist 1955-1972
Mr. Myron J. Smith, Jr., MLS 1972-1976
Mr. James Godsey, MLS 1976-1983
Mrs. C. Kathryn Holst, MLS 1983-2014
Mrs. Rebecca Lemons, MLS 2014-Present
carnegie library circulation desk

Carnegie library circulation desk circa 1966.

A lot of things have changed since 1903 – the two librarians who staffed the City Free Library in 1903 never could have predicted the range of equipment and services that the Library would need to provide to modern patrons.

Through the years, trends have come and gone. Our Library’s first audiovisual materials – stereographic slides and Victrola records – have given way to Blu-Ray and eBooks. An online catalog has replaced traditional card catalogs, which, in turn, had replaced simple lists of titles and authors. Lyle Harter and Winifred Ticer could not have predicted the invention of the computer, nor could they have imagined the services we are able to provide today because of the digital revolution.

However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Our number-one priority is still providing outstanding library services to our patrons, although we have many, many more materials to go around than we did in 1903! And as always, our librarians and other staff members are ready to make book recommendations, answer reference questions, and assist you in any way they can!