Monday, March 5, 2012

Dedication Day Arrives

Mooresville Public Library
(the Carnegie Building, 1916)
(Photo by J. P. Calvert)

January 27, 1916, was dedication day at Mooresville Public Library.  It was the big event in town at the time, as evidenced by the front page of The Mooresville Times (January 28, 1916).  Click each image below to enlarge.

Laminated Copy of The Mooresville Times
January 28, 1916 (Vol. 27, No. 14)

I could paraphrase the newspaper articles, but there's something charming about reading accounts contemporaneous to the events described.  So please click the images below to read the original stories.  If the newspaper clippings appear too small (even after enlarging), then right-click them and select "open link in new tab."  You may then go to View on your web browser's menu bar and select "Zoom" (a value of 200% or 400% should suffice).

Reading the original newspaper makes you feel more like you were actually there at the time.  This is a historical artifact of enormous importance, because it is the only copy MPL has of the first two pages of that particular Times edition.  The microfilm copy in the MPL Indiana Room Collection, which the Indiana Historical Society filmed from paper copies available at the Indiana State Library, omitted the January 28, 1916 issue of The Mooresville Times.  Apparently, the State Library did not have a paper copy of that particular edition.  So this yellowing, laminated original is the only record MPL has of the Carnegie Library's dedication.

The Carnegie Library was a showcase of Mooresvillian civic pride. The structure sat 40 feet north of the front of an 80-ft.-by-153-ft. lot.  The 56 ft.-by-36-ft. building was constructed in an Elizabethan architectural style.  The exterior was vitrified fire clay brick (four shades of tan) inlaid using dark brown mortar, with stone trim and twin gables.  The original roof was tile.

The Carnegie Library employed a steam heating system and, of course, no air conditioning, which didn't generally exist in 1916 (although American scientists had experimented with A/C as early as the mid-19th century).  Interior lighting was semi-indirect, meaning that some were overhanging lights while others were recessed behind wall plating.

The reading room consisted of three adult tables, three children's tables, and two reference tables (for librarians' use).  The basement included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 300, which could be utilized by local organizations and school groups for meetings, programs, and events.  It was the forerunner of today's MPL Bonita Marley Community Room.  In addition, the basement was equipped with a complete kitchenette.

The 4,000 square foot facility initially provided shelving for 6,000 books, which was subsequently increased (during the 1920s) to 8,300 volume capacity. The library's initial collection featured 1,143 books, or less than half the number of volumes currently contained within the MPL Indiana Room (2012). But acquisitions steadily increased, so that, by 1937, the Library housed 8,400 books and had 2,245 borrowers.  By 1936, the Library's annual circulation of books was 20,250.

Quick quiz!  How many items does MPL currently have in its various collections?  Take a wild guess.  Well, let's check the latest inventory report.  As of this very minute, MPL has 86,232 items in its collections.  Were you close?  I'd have wagered around 90,000, but then I have access to the reports.

The 1916 Library Board published the Library's policies on cards distributed to the public.  These were nicely printed on classy cardstock, which were disseminated when patrons obtained their first library cards.

MPL's First Library Policies (1916)

Inside Pages of MPL's First Library Policies (1916)

MPL Library Board of Trustees & Librarians (1916)

The Library also posted its rules for using the assembly hall downstairs.

Library Rules Governing Assembly Hall (1916)

Now that Mooresville had its own fabulous library, residents of neighboring Morgan County townships were interested to see if they could utilize this valuable community resource.  Madison Township residents were the first to seek lending rights to MPL.  Did they succeed?  Find out next time.

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