Learn Hammond library's story

2011-04-10T00:00:00Z Learn Hammond library's storyBy Linda Swisher Public Information Coordinator, Hammond Public Library nwitimes.com

National Library Week is from today to April 16. Using the theme, Create your own story @ your library, April displays at the Hammond Public Library will help tell its story.

Established in 1903, it is the oldest public library in Lake County. A study group called the Shakespeare Club was largely responsible for starting the library as it exists today. The club donated books even before the Hammond Public Library was established officially. The library's first accession book, begun in 1902, records the first 5,000 titles added to the library.

The accession book shows the works of Charles Dickens comprising 19 of the first 20 books in what would become the Hammond Public Library. "Ben Hur," by Indiana native Lew Wallace, was entry No. 2.

Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" was No. 31; Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" No. 68. Mark Twain's name first appears in 1904: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" was No. 726, and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was No. 727. Interestingly, some public libraries did not add these books, even in Twain's lifetime.

The Hammond Public Library first was housed in Bloomhof's millinery shop and then in the Chicago Telephone Building. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie donated the funds for Hammond's central library, which was dedicated in 1905. The central library is depicted in postcards from different eras.

The central library was razed in 1968 after the current main library opened in 1967. A dedication book showcases the new, improved main library at 564 State St., featuring Bedford stone on the outside, and modern, streamlined Herman Miller furniture within.

The nameplate of J.A. Howard, chief librarian from 1929 to 1954, is a treasured artifact. Howard was active in the Indiana Library Association. The library branch at 7047 Grand Ave. is named in his honor. The nameplate of Edward B. Hayward, chief librarian from 1954 to 1981, also is displayed. Hayward was active in the Hammond Historical Society and in the creation of the Calumet Room, now called the Suzanne G. Long Local History Room. The library branch at 172nd Street and Columbia Avenue bears his name.

A 1908 catalog enumerates the library's holdings at that time. Annual reports track changes in library locations, staff and services through the years.

A total renovation of Main Library from 2000-2002 removed the Bedford stone and Herman Miller furnishings in favor of a modified Prairie style. The design also accommodated the installation of the old clock that once graced Goldblatt's department store.

A special section in The Times commemorated the grand opening in 2002. The Hammond Public Library celebrated its centennial in 2003. Come and visit. Discover, create or read other stories at the Hammond Public Library and its branches or local libraries everywhere. Make every week library week.

To reach PastTimes page coordinator Pat Kincaid email: patricia.kincaid@nwi.com or call (219) 933-3383.

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