Library service in Munster dates back to 1939 when the Munster Board of School Trustees officially granted the Gary City Library use of a room in Lanier School. Actual service began in early 1940. In 1942 the book collection was moved to a trailer in order for the school to reclaim needed classroom space.Two years later a 20 by 20 ft. building at the corner of Ridge Road and Howard Avenue was purchased by the Library Board. Jennie Keller served as librarian for 1945 to 1951.
The first building in Munster purposely designed as a public library was dedicated on August 8, 1953 (R. S. Kastendieck and Co., Architect). A 60 by 150 ft. plot of land, located next to Lanier School on Ridge Road, was donated to the Lake County Library Board from the estate of Wilhelmina Kaske on April 12, 1949. It would take another few years and the combined resources of the Lake County Library budget, the newly created Munster Library Association, and donations from several Munster organizations, businesses, and individuals to raise enough money for the project. The buildings main floor housed the book collection (capacity 5,000 volumes), with a community meeting room and kitchen in the basement. Evelyn Freese began her nearly 25 years of service as librarian in 1951.
In 1959 the Munster library ended its partnership with the Gary Public Library to become part of Lake County Public Library. The first directors office was located in the branch librarys reading room. By 1964 the collection had outgrown the library on Ridge Road Property was secured on Calumet Avenue fronting Community Park in 1965. In January, 1967, ground was broken for a 6,300 sq. ft. structure. The library was dedicated on March 3, 1968 and opened to the public on the following day. The new building, designed by Turner and Turner, Architect, had space for 25,000 volumes and a community meeting room, complete with a kitchen. It had central air conditioning and, in keeping with the times, bright orange walls!
An addition to the Calumet Avenue building, completed in 1980, increased the librarys square footage to 16,900 and allowed for 62 parking spaces. Interior space allowed for 50,000 books, audio visual materials, and magazines, along with ample seating in the adult and childrens areas and a community meeting room that accommodated 75 people. Architect for this addition was William Bachman and partners. Charlotte Picha was librarian at the time of this construction project. She served the Munster Branch from 1972 to1989.
in 1995 the entire building was painted. The face-lift continued into 1996, this time in the form of new carpeting, reupholstered furniture, new lobby lights, and wiring for Internet access. New services and special collections were introduced over the next 10 years, among them: Internet access in 1997, CD-ROMs in 1998, DVDs in 2000, Bestsellers Express in 2001, and Always Something New and Su Biblioteca in 2002. Linda Dunn began her tenure as Munster branch manager in 1989. She has helped implement many changes during the past several years, including those associated with the latest remodeling project.
As part of a system-wide renovation plan, construction on the Munster Branch Library began in November, 2007. The architectural firm of Carras-Szany-Kuhn and Associates addressed the need for an updated infrastructure and a brighter library interior. Munster patrons will benefit from redesigned space that boasts a new circulation desk, a separate childrens program room, additional lighting, a young adult area, new furniture, and new public computers. The Lake County Public Library administration and the Munster branch staff are pleased to dedicate this newly remodeled library to the community as we look forward to providing quality library service for the next generation of patrons.
Assistant librarian Chris Retseck at the Munster branch assisted with photo information. Linda Dunn is Munster branch manager.