Library History

History of the Library written by Anne Smith in 2007

In 1948, the Harrison Women's Club requested that the city council give 1/2 mill of assessed valuation to fund a library. The Harrison City Library was first housed in the city hall and Betty Wells was the first Librarian. The city building was located in the building directly across from the Surrey House.

The first Library Board consisted of Marion Amble, Iva Bartow, Sam Morrison, Roberta Roth and Lewis Hole. In 1967 a new city hall and city garage were constructed on Beech Street behind the Lumber Company. Ethel Hagen was the librarian at the time. During 1968 and until the fall of 1969 the library shared space with the newly formed Mid Michigan Community College library, while its campus facilities were being constructed. Laurine Wright was employed as librarian at that time and in 1970 was followed by Anne Smith.

During the 1970's the library director and board began to encourage the seven twonships surrounding the city of Harrison to become partners in the library by signing contracts for services for their residents. This greatly increased the usage of the library and helped to consolidate support thus enabling the city library to become known as the Harrison Community Library.

In 1980, John Collins, a local businessman, donated the building located on the corner of Main and Second Streets to be used by the city as a library for 30 years.

Moving into the new facility was a large task but community support made the transition a time of unity and excitement. All of the Middle School students participated by manually carrying bags of non-fiction books from the city hall location to the new building. As each student came in, they were handed a bag of books which they then carried two blocks, marching single file, where the shelves were already in place and a volunteer took the books out of the bag in order and placed them on the shelf. 3000 books were transported by that method. The rest of the collection and equipment were moved by city crews and men from the Lion's Club. Volunteers helped set the library in order and the library re-opened after 3 days. It was a heartwarming experience to see the community take part with so much enthusiam. It created great civic pride and students remembered the experience with fond memories.

Connie Calkins joined the library staff in 1981 and developed excellect children's programs throughout her years of service.

As funding increased the library was able to add services as well as offering a community meeting room from many groups and programs. Hours were expanded and more staff was added to meet the demands of the people who found that the library was the center of education, information, entertainment and culture. In 1993 Harrison Community Library's board was able to secure one of the last federal matching grants for building improvements. The library closed during that summer as the facility was gutted. It re-opened in October looking fresh and elegant with new bathrooms, a new community room, a brick facade and the public responded with pride and enthusiam. During the 1990's the library began to become computerized, introducing a shared catalog through a newly formed consortium of many libraries, along with a computer system for ease and accuracy in checking materials in and out. Interloaning materials through the consortium became popular allowing small rural libraries the ability to borrow materials for their patrons that spanned every interest. The Gates Foundation funded public access computers for all eligible public libraries throughout the United States and provided training for library patrons in computer usage. Throughout the subsequent years, Internet access has been an essential service to our library with several public access computers added and used daily.

In the early 2000's upon a request by the Library Board, the City Council increased its appropriation to one mill to support the library's need to meet the new state standards as the 2000 census increased our service population from a Class III to a Class IV library. In 2002 Anne Smith retired after 32 years as library director and Jennifer Dean was hired. In 2004 Deana Cunningham replaced Dean. Currently, the library and its board are seeking a more stable form of funding and strengthening it's township ties by creating a district library. The library is the center for our community and has been a source of pride for its residents.



"Libraries are the memory of mankind, the storehouse that contains all which is known and has thought. Were some holocaust to destroy all intellectual insitutions except libraries, civilization could be re-created. If libraries were destroyed, all other insitutions in the world could not re-create them".



Written by Anne Smith

May 2007