1914: A few men and women who had long dreamed of a public library for Warren, Indiana, investigated the necessary legal requirements. Robert McCrum, superintendent of the Warren schools, and P.H. Beck consulted with the State Library Commission, who recommended that they organize under the Indiana Library Law of 1901. Interested persons met on June 16, 1916, and elected as officers Monroe Wiley, P.H. Beck, Tillie Fleming, and B.F. Young. Others present at that first meeting were Charles Barnes, Frank Canady, O.E. Hagler, Jasper Blair, Maggie Kriegbaum, Vienna Laymon, and Minnie Roberts.
The required number of signatures on a library petition were obtained, and a sum equal to 0.2 of one percent of the taxable property of the town was raised through popular subscription. It then became mandatory for the town council, school board, and circuit judge to appoint members to the official Library Board of Trustees.
1918: The Warren Free Public Library was first housed in the Phi Delta Kappa rooms over Frank Young’s jewelry store. Mrs. Tillie Fleming was the librarian. One small bookcase held the library’s total collection of 100 books.
After considering a number of possible locations, the site of the old jail at Third and Main Streets was selected for building the new library. Application was made to the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, which contributed $10,000 for the building. Mr. Carnegie funded the building of over 2,500 public libraries around the world, 2,000 in the U.S. The money received from Mr. Carnegie went into the building above the foundation.
The lot was purchased from the town of Warren. Plans were drawn up by Samuel Craig of Huntington. August Rudlinger, Van Buren, was the contractor. Construction began in 1918. A shortage of supplies during World War I forced delays in construction.
1920: The present building was finally completed. On June 5, almost four years to the day after the Warren Free Public Library was first established, the new building was dedicated. Total construction cost was $11,562.09 (including the lot and basement). At the time of dedication, there were 1,534 volumes on the shelves.
In 1920, Inez (Black) Wilson succeeded Mrs. Fleming as librarian and served in that capacity until 1951. Miriam Redding filled the position for six years, Vilna Smith for the next seven years, Helen Noffsinger from 1964 to 1986, Rosalie Walter to 2010, and Rick Forrester to 2013. The current library director is Robert Neuenschwander.
1953: The Library Board of Trustees, Town Board, and Township Advisory Board all voted to combine and merge the Warren Free Public Library with Salamonie Township and form a single town-township library district.
Late 1960s: The interior of the library was remodeled. The ceiling was lowered and recessed lighting and air conditioning installed.
December 2, 1974: The Board of Trustees passed a resolution stating that the Warren Free Public Library and/or Warren-Salamonie Township Library (the legal name for tax purposes) would henceforth be known as the Warren Public Library.
1976: The library was revamped and redecorated.
1991: The interior of the library was repainted and new carpet was laid.
1994: A platform lift was installed on the north side of the library, providing handicapped accessibility.
1995: The basement was remodeled and the children’s department relocated.
2002: Renovation of the main floor was undertaken. At that time, a new ceiling, lighting, carpet, blinds, and shelving were installed.
2006–2007: The restroom was renovated, a storage room created from part of the furnace room, a 25-foot flagpole was erected, and a historical marker commemorating Warren’s Carnegie Library was dedicated.
2016: The Warren Public Library celebrated the formation of the library; we have officially served the Warren community for 100 years!
Today: The Library offers programming for all ages of patrons. The Friends of the Warren Library sponsors used book sales, and book delivery is available to shut-ins. Children attending area public schools, but living outside of the library taxing district, may apply for a student library card.
Books, magazines, music CDs, audio books, e-books, videos and DVDs are available for check out. The library also has a public use copier, fax machine, and laminator for standard sheets. Warren newspapers dating back to the late 1880s are available on microfilm.
As the library serves the public in the twenty-first century, technology is playing an increasing role. In 1996, public access computers were installed. Patrons may access the Internet and the online catalog. Wireless internet is also available. As envisioned by progressive community leaders who established the library in 1916, the Warren Public Library continues to serve the information needs of Warren, Salamonie Township, and surrounding communities.