Library History

The Bourbon Public Library was first organized in 1928 by the federated women's clubs of Bourbon. The library was born from the simple idea of organizing a book exchange for the club members. The project grew and eventually additional businesses and associations became involved. Soon the club moved to make their project one of community proportions.

Funds from the club's treasury were allocated to support the new institution. Books were generously donated by all members of the community. Members of the club were appointed into committees that began to develop the mechanisms required to organize the new library. The first library board was created and they soon had their first space as well.

The library was originally housed in a room donated by the Mendel Store. The room was prepared through the generous donations of club members and Bourbons businessmen. Nellie Disher was the first librarian and was in charge of the several hundred books that had by now been donated. The library was open on Wednesdays and Saturdays and was free for all residents of Bourbon and Tippecanoe Townships. Throughout this early history the library made many moves into space donated by a variety of businesses throughout Bourbon.

The early financial support of the library was acquired through regular fundraisers and through the generous donations of many of Bourbon and Tippecanoe Townships clubs and businesses. Nellie Disher served as the librarian until her death in 1930. Her duties were assumed by Blanche Thomas, who served in the position until 1934. Mary Fribley was then appointed librarian and served until 1975.

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 The original Monday Club scrapbooks.

A New Home

Like the Librarys early history, the Librarys new home came through the efforts of the community and its members generous donations. The Library moved into its permanent location in 1940 at the corner of Main and Sunset Streets. The property was donated by James Matchette.

Efforts had been underway since 1922 to find the appropriate location for the construction of a permanent facility. At this time $12,000 in the form of a trust fund had been donated by William Erwin upon his death for the erection and furnishing of a public library for the community of Bourbon. Power over the fund was deeded to his wife who led the efforts of a library commission in finding an appropriate site for the new building.

Thanks to the generosity of the Matchette family the plat on Main street became available. Work then went into researching the potential for the new facility. LeRoy Bradley of Fort Wayne, IN was selected as the architect for the project. His plans were then followed by Stanley Hennon through the year of 1939. The building was completed in 1940 and was opened to the public soon thereafter.

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  The Bourbon News Mirror and The Pioneer articles from 1940 about the new library.

Recent History

The library has served the public from its present location since 1940. Throughout that time the library has had four directors; Miss Mary Fribley (1934 ~ 1975), Mrs. Alta Grossman (1975 ~ 1983), Mrs. Ramona Baer (1983 ~ 2008), and its current director Ms. Heather Barron (2009 ~ Present). The building itself has had only a few changes. In 1990 the library completed an expansion project, which doubled its original size while maintaining the architecture of the original building.

In 2004, the children's department was moved into the basement after a remodeling project. The library also continues to evolve in other ways.  The addition of new computers and wireless Internet access helps to serve our community's technology needs, in addition to growing DVD and Book on CD collections for education and entertainment.

More History

If you are interested in learning more about the areas history take advantage of the Librarys local history collection, where additional information about the library and community can be found.

You might want to refer to these resources as well:

Genealogy Resources

The Library has some limited resources available for doing local research about your ancestry, but also recommends some of the following resources: