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Life and Times of the Wabash Carnegie Public Library

Since time is the one immaterial object
which we cannot influence
neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish
it is an imponderably valuable gift.
~Maya Angelou


Timeline of the Wabash Carnegie Public Library

1845 - A Wabash County Library is operated by the County Commissioners.
1890 - Members of the Round Table Literary Club form the Women's Library Association and open a library of 300 volumes in the Probate Court Room of the Wabash County Court House.
1895 - The library is moved to the new high school (built in 1894) at the corner of Cass and West Hill Streets, and named Wabash City Library. It is later moved to Memorial Hall.
1901 - Applications are made to Andrew Carnegie by Warren Bigler, school board president, and Mrs.C. E. Cowgill. A reply is received, March 14, 1901, from James Bertram, Carnegie's secretary, that Carnegie will provide $20,000 for a library building if the City of Wabash will provide a suitable site and $2,000 per year toward its support.
1903 - 3,000 books. The completed Carnegie Library is opened to the public on April 6, 1903. Eunice D. Henley is the Head Librarian. Architect: J.F. Wing; the building is 5,000 square feet. Board members: Warren Bigler, Mrs. C.E. (Nancy) Cowgill, John A. Bruner, Mrs. George (Julia) Herrick, Charles S. Haas, Mrs. James I. (Lula) Robertson, and Oliver H. Bogue.
1913 - 8,297 books. Eunice Henley resigns; Effie Roberts becomes Head Librarian.
1923 - 9,221 books. Della Tilman becomes Head Librarian.
1929 - Stock market crash. Great Depression begins.
1933 - 957 books. Library closes temporarily due to lack of funds.
1941 - Children's library moves downstairs.
1943 - 1,878 books.
1947 - Indiana Library Law of 1947 creates autonomous library boards.
1948 - The Children's Room is renovated and expanded. the Wabash Carnegie Public Library becomes a Class 1 Public Library under the new library law.
1953 - 4,255 books.
1968 - The library board and staff begin planning for the renovation and expansion of the 5,000 square foot building.
1969 - The Bookmobile demonstration project serves county residents (ended in 1972). Della Tilman retires. Nancy Cowgill becomes Head Librarian.
1970 - 32,178 books. Linda Robertson is appointed as Director. The Wabash Oral History Project begins with George Dingledy as interviewer. The project continues through 1985.
1973 - 33,968 books.
In the 1980s - In the 1980s the library made the transition from a traditional library to a computerized library with an automated circulation system and the library's first computers.
1982 - Franklin Ace computers are purchased to enter bibliographic records.
1983 - 39,588 books.
1984 - The library is automated with Gaylord's Circulation 400 System.
1985 - Video and music cassettes are added to the collection.
1986 - Linda Robertson resigns; Gladys Harvey is appointed as Interim Director.
1987 - Joanna Strode is appointed as Director.
1988 - The record collection is discarded; replaced with music cassettes.
1989 - The first IBM computer is purchased to automate accounting and payroll. Manual bookkeeping ledgers are discarded; Fottett's "Quick Card" system is used for cataloging. The Info=Trac system, a CD-ROM database, replaces the printed Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. CDs are added to the collection.
1990 - The library upgrades to the Gaylord GALAXY System to combine circulation and an on-line catalog. The Card Catalog is discarded.
1991 - The first FAX machine. The Children's Room is redecorated and the Meeting Room remodeled.
1993 - 53,662 books. Baker & Taylor's Module 2 automates title searching and book ordering. Books in Print is discarded.
1996 - Dial-in access to the Internet is accomplished through CommuniNet.
1997 - Direct access to the Internet is made available on a 56k line. Public access computers are installed through a state technology grant.
1999 - A T-1 Circuit is installed; the library migrates to the State Backbone Network maintained through IHETS> New domain name: The GALAXY server is upgraded to a DEC Alpha.
2000 - The library's on-line catalog is made accessible over the Internet.
2001 - A Gates Computer Grant buys new computer equipment for the Children's Room.
2002 - The Library purchases the old high school property at Hill and Cass Streets. Books are ordered over the Internet through Baker & Taylor's "Title Source".
2003 - 62,003 books. A digital telephone system and new entrance ramp are installed.
2004 - Children's Room is renovated due to August 2003 Flood.
2005 - The library is renovated with new wall coverings, carpet, upstairs circulation desk and new false dome.
2005 - The Library installs Polaris Library Systems.
2007 - Library furniture is updated.
2007 - Joanna Strode retires, Amy Wendt is appointed as Interim Director.
2007 - Ware W. Wimberly III is appointed as Director.
2007 - New library shelving for periodicals is completed.
2008 - Library has its first Community Read centered around “The Circus in Winter” by Cathy Day.
2008 - Two online resources, Bookletters and, were added to the Library’s services.
2009 - Library successfully hosted Indiana Library Federation’s District II Conference on May 1st, 2009
2009 - Due to increasing usage of public computers by patrons, new computers and computer tables were added for patron use both upstairs and downstairs areas of Library.
2009 - The Library purchased property across Hill Street for the purpose of creating additional parking for patrons.
2010 - Increased library adult programming with Crafty Book Club, Computer Classes, etc.
2010 - For more effective computer management and customer convenience, the Library added Cassie Computer Reservation Software for its public computers upstairs.
2010 - With assistance from Visionary Web Design, the library created a new website.
2011 - Completed new library parking area across the street from the library building.
2011 - The library replaced the T1 line for Internet connection for computers (patron and staff) with a fiber optic (or 6.5 T1 lines) line to increase speed both in regards to retrieval and processing.
2011 - The library added e-books and audio e-books to its collection for borrowing by joining the Indiana Digital Download Center. The Indiana Digital Download Center provides e-books/audio e-books to be checked out through OverDrive.
2012 - Library added Freegal to its services for library patrons. Freegal allows patrons to download songs through one’s library card. Once downloaded, patrons can keep that song on their device.
2012 - Saw increased use on monthly basis by patrons in checking out eBooks and Audio eBooks from Indiana Digital Download Center (Overdrive).
2012 - Negotiations with Wabash County Historical Museum that resulted in the transfer of ownership of the Archives to the Wabash Carnegie Public Library. Library’s genealogy and local history collection are greatly enhanced by this transfer of ownership.
2013 – LSTA grant “Mobile Laptop Lab for Technology Training” was awarded to the Wabash Carnegie Public Library. It was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services administrated by the Indiana State Library. Class for staff and the public were conducted due to the awarded grant.
2013 - The library provided ability for patrons to make color copies on the copier available for public use.
2013 - Various technology upgrades including Polaris 4.1 (Circulation), stronger wireless availability (Meraki), and Direct Deposit (payroll).
2014 - Library launched "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten" program under direction of Nancy Snyder, Youth Services Librarian, with a grant awarded to the library from the Community Foundations of Wabash County.
2014 - Library provided e-readers programmed with e-books for patrons to borrow with valid library card.
2014 - Feasibility Study by MKM architecture + design done to look at possible expansion of library building in coming years.

2015 - The library started providing notary services to library customers and community.

2015 - The library's online catalog and Circulation system was upgraded from Polaris 4.1 to 5.0.

2015 - Masonry work and roof flashing was completed on the library to prevent further water and moisture leaks.


For over a hundred years, Wabash Carnegie Public Library has served the needs of the patrons of the Wabash area. Time has changed many of the faces of the buildings in Wabash, and some of the buildings from the early days are no longer in existence. Time and progress have changed what services the Carnegie Library provides, but time doesn't have to change the attitudes and small-town friendliness that is so evident in Indiana. May we always remember to be thankful for the persistence of the early Wabash community and to Andrew Carnegie for his long-lasting gift to the city of Wabash!

The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures
sent from a distant friendly party
but they say nothing
and if we do not use the gifts they bring
they carry them as silently away.
~Maya Angelou