Manhattan Public Library FoundedMarch 21, 1909
The Manhattan Public Library District was founded in 1909 by John Henry Smale, a visiting seminarian from St. Paul's Episcopal Church and a group of interested citizens. The first library, with a collection of one hundred book donations and a bookcase from the John Baker family, was housed in the village hall. The library was open on Saturdays with Ruby Cockle as librarian. The library was funded by talent shows, card parties, and an annual summer festival.
First Library Board EstablishedFebruary 21, 1919
In 1919, the citizens of Manhattan Township voted to levy taxes to support the library. On the first Library Board of Trustees were Flora Baker, Anna Tennysen, Bert Hollenbach, Elvira Klinger, Harry Kirstein, and Nelson Lynk. Flora Baker became the second librarian, and in 1933, Dorothy Cockle Allen assumed the position. Librarians immediately following Mrs. Allen were Isabelle Treshan, Vera Borden, and Jennie Loucks.
New Building PurchasedJune 21, 1940
In 1940, the Manhattan State Bank building was purchased for $1,500
Golden AnniversaryMarch 21, 1959
In 1959 the library celebrated its golden anniversary and had a collection of 7,500 books. At this time, Effie Dyer was the librarian.
Another Building PurchasedMarch 21, 1968
In 1968, the library purchased the Evangelical United Brethren Church building at 240 Whitson St. In 1975, Ruth Mundt became the librarian.
First Full-Time Librarian& New LibraryFebruary 19, 1984
The first full-time head librarian, Judy Bunting, was hired in 1984. Plans were in progress for the construction of a new library building. The trustees applied for and received a Library Services and Construction Grant from the federal government for $88,000 to match the $120,000 in the library's building fund. With the help of the community, ground was broken on September 8, 1984 for the new library, and the Manhattan Public Library District moved into its new home on June 22, 1985. Dedication of the new building was held on October 27, 1985, on the 76th anniversary of the library.
Library Name ChangeMay 19, 1987
The Manhattan Township Public Library became Manhattan Public Library District in July of 1987.
Jackson Townships AnnexedFebruary 19, 1995
In 1995, Jackson Township precincts 2 and 4 were annexed by referendum. In August of 2000, Judy Bunting retired and Judy Pet was named Library Director. The April 2001 elections brought the annexation by referendum of Jackson Townships 1 and 3, including the town of Elwood.
Library Remodel BeginsFebruary 19, 2013
In the winter of 2013, the library began the process of remodeling the existing building and adding 3,600 square feet in modular units to house the Children and Teen departments. On October 20, 2014 the library hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand reopening. Retired director Judy Pet cut the ribbon in honor of her 25 years of service to the library.