Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Indianapolis Public Library History


I'm a big fan of books that tell the story of a single library. I just obtained one of the best I've ever seen. It is Stacks: A History of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library by S. L. Berry with Mary Ellen Gadski (Indianapolis-Marion County Library Foundation, 2011).  A blurb on the cover states: "The Library has always been more than a source of information: it has been a center of community life. Stacks tells the story of the IMCPL's evolution, placing it in a national context and emphasizing its role in the educational and cultural life of Indianapolis". Berry and Gadski were commissioned by the IMCPL Foundation to write the book, and they have done a great job. As a former public library director, I liked the descriptions of the challenges faced by each of the directors of the library and how they responded to them. Noteworthy was the chapter titled "The McFadden Years, 1944-1956" which described how Marian McFadden dealt with the McCarthy era.  In addition to the quality writing I was highly impressed with the design of the book which according to a press release for the book was done by Jim and Jon Sholly.  The book includes numerous visual images. As a collector of librariana, I especially liked the images of bookplates on the front and end pages of the book. A neat idea was an illustration of a book pocket for the library with a date due slip that just happened to include significant dates in the history of the library. A double page montage in the book includes a number of examples of postcards showing two of the former central libraries. Shown above are postcards from my collection featuring the two buildings. The first building was completed in 1893 and the second in 1917. The book is available for $25 from the IMCPL Foundation. Strangely, the library's website includes little information about the history of the library or even about this great book.   

5 comments:

Skip Berry said...

Larry: Thank you for such a complimentary review. We worked hard to create a book that was both visually inviting and readable (many institutional histories are neither). We also strove to ensure it reflected what makes the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library such a valued and valuable member of the community-- its longstanding commitment to serve the public as fully as possible by offering as many services and programs as funding and staffing allows. It's truly one of country's premier public libraries and I'm proud to have been able to pay my debt for all of the pleasure it has given me during the 30 years I've lived in Indianapolis.
--S.L. (Skip) Berry

Dave-A said...

Did the original, 1893 building survive? Where is/was it constructed? Thanks!

KevinJayBrewer said...

Unfortunately, the 1893 building only survived until 1967. When the 1917 building was completed, the 1893 building became the Indianapolis Public Schools offices. See http://historicindianapolis.com/friday-favorite-central-library-statuary/

greatsince78 said...

As a frequent visitor to the central branch as well as several others, I will really appreciate reading such a book. Libraries remain a vital cornerstone to communities around the world. Although their function has transitioned somewhat due to technology, there is still a presence that can only be felt within the walls of these great institutions.

Sue Anthony said...

Just wondering if there is any way to find names of past Indianapolis Public Library librarians? In the 1940s a librarian named Christie Rudolph (ancestor) worked there, noted on the 1940 US Census.
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V11K-5DT

Thanks!