Jay County Public Library 
315 N. Ship Street, Portland, IN  47371 
(260) 726-7890 or fax (260) 726-7317
Monday-Friday 8 to 8   Saturday 8 to 5


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Centennial Features

Celebrating 100 Years of
of Public Library Service


Jay County Public Library
 1902 - 2002


JCPL celebrated 100 Years of public library service in 2002.  Like to hear more about it?  Contact the library about our "speaker's bureau"  offering 15-20 minute presentations to your organization about the history of the library.

More on the Centennial Celebration:

Centennial Celebration Day Schedule 
[October 5]

A Book Shower held in honor of the Centennial was completed in 2002.  Gifts may still be made to the library, however.  Learn more about making gifts to the library in honor or in memory of someone special.

Share YOUR Library Story


Check out these articles on the library's history:

Centennial Special Edition of NEWSNOTES October 2002

A JCPL Timeline

New Books List 1902

The Carnegie Connection


Centennial Celebration Schedule

Tours! Special guests! Classes! History! A real live author! Story Time! Cake and balloons! It will be a big day on Saturday, October 5, Celebrating 100 Years of Public Library Service in our community, and the whole community is invited.

In 1902 the community began supporting the library with public money. In 2002 the public library still serves the public’s needs, whether for business, industry or agriculture; for students, teachers or parents; for work or for pleasure. We also celebrate 100 years of service given to the library by many past and present library trustees, staff, donors and volunteers.


Saturday, October 5, 2002

Birthday Cake and Tours available 
8:30 - 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Classes available (register in advance):
9:00-11:00 a.m.    How to Use the Library Class
9:00-11:00 a.m.    Beginning Internet Class
9:00-10:30 a.m.    Beginning Genealogy Class

Birthday Story Time 10:00-10:45 a.m.
Youth Services Librarian Linda Shreve & guest author Sallyann Murphey

Centennial Program 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Recognition of form and current library trustees
Guest Speaker Sallyann Murphey
(who will autograph books following)
Historical Presentation by Director Rosalie Clamme

Special guest Sallyann Murphey will travel from Brown County, Indiana, to join the JCPL community for the centennial celebration October 5. As the Book Reading Club and others who read her Bean Blossom Dreams will find, she’s traveled quite a bit farther than that to arrive at being an "Indiana writer." London-born Murphey is a former BBC producer who left Chicago with her photographer husband and daughter to seek a simpler life. They purchased 42 acres in Brown County, Indiana, in 1990, and named it Bean Blossom Farm. The book is an account of their first year there.

Other books have followed: The Zen of Food, a Philosophy of Nourishment; The Metcalfe Family Album (a fictional family followed for six generations); and Recollections, a Scrapbook and Guide to Creating Your Own Family Album.


Centennial Thoughts:  A JCPL Timeline

May 2002:  One hundred and one years ago this spring Andrew Carnegie notified the Portland Public Library he would give $15,000 for construction of a library building.  In return, the city furnished a site and pledge itself to appropriate annual funds for the support of the library.  Publicly-supported library service has continued uninterrupted since.  It has been a busy 100 years!

Indiana establishes public libraries in townships.  Trustee D. W. McNeal (physician, school teacher, surveyor and trustee) maintains the Wayne Township library in the Miller building on Main Street; lack of funds and Civil War disrupt service.

Library revived by Portland Alumni Association and city school teachers with "book shower" and a room in the Bimel Building (at the southeast corner of Main and Meridian Streets).

Librarian Mellie Stanley hired.  Funds are raised to buy furniture and pay rent.

Library board asks industrialist/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for funds to construct library building and $15,000 is granted.  Tipton and McArthur lots on East Walnut Street are purchased for $3400.  Patton & Miller of Chicago retained as architects.

New building dedicated on September 10 with Senator Charles Fairbanks as speaker.

Library service extended beyond city limits to all of Wayne Township.

Redecorating done in connection with the building's 20th anniversary.

Roof leaks, basement flooding and needed repairs appear repeatedly in library board discussions.

Roof patched in hopes it lasts "until the war is over."

Library board extends service to the county by contract.  A new roof is installed.  

$20,000 issued in bonds for repairs and services.  Ceilings lowered throughout building -- except in rotunda.

Bookmobile purchased to serve city schools and stations at sites around the county.

Basement used for public school kindergarten class.

New bookmobile purchased for $6000+.

Library consultant says "like all Carnegie buildings," rooms are now too small.  Walls cannot be moved.

Long range planning begins; architects Bradley & Bradley present plans of possible additions.

Open house held for the newly enlarged building.

Reorganization:  Jay county Public Library serves all of county except Dunkirk, Pennville, and Penn Township.

Architect recommends new building twice the size to accommodate growing usage.

Automated circulation systems installed; more than 100,000 items given barcodes.

Consultant recommends new structure.  Long range plans are begun with members of public, Board and staff.

Card catalogs out, computer stations in.  Architect hired for feasibility study.  The basement floods.

Board votes to build new structure; remonstrance halts financing one year.  Independent review recommends gift funds supplement a $1.85 million bond.

October ground breaking for new building.

October dedication of new building.  Local donations $600,000+; State and Federal grants push total non-bond funds over $1 million.  Project cost is $3.4 million.

Public access to the Internet is added.

New bookmobile purchased for $106,000.

Over 105,000 items in collection.  Circulation exceeds 300,00.  21 full and part-time employees.


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Centennial Thoughts:  New Books List 1902

Early library supporters built up the collection with a "book shower" in 1897 sponsored by city school teachers and the Portland Alumni Association.  Originally aimed at acquiring materials for a reading room in the Bimel Building in downtown Portland,  the books became the basis of the collection in the Carnegie building dedicated in 1902.  When it came time to open that new building, a list of 86 books to be added to the library's collection was published in the newspaper account of the dedication.  

Well-used and popular library books are not likely to survive 100 years of handling, and tastes in literature and information change (particularly in non-fiction!).  But several titles on the 1902 new additions list can still be found at JCPL.  Have you read these titles, familiar to readers in 1902?

Walden / Henry Thoreau

Familiar Quotations / Bartlett

A collection of poems by Robert Browning

Grimm's Fairy Tales

The Blue Fairy Book / Andrew Lang

Roberts' Rules of Order

A German-English dictionary

Who's Who (but we no longer have the 1902 edition)

Black Beauty / Anna Sewell

An Old-Fashioned Girl / Louisa May Alcott

Little Women / Louisa May Alcott

Eight Cousins / Louisa May Alcott

Jack and Jill / Louisa May Alcott

Hoosier School-boy / Edward Eggleston

Tom Sawyer / Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer Abroad / Mark Twain

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Mark Twain

Our New Books shelves and lists from the Centennial Book Shower still include popular novels, helpful non-fiction books, poetry, and new editions of classic material.  But today's shelf also offers audio cassettes, videos, compact discs and books that come with CD-ROMs.  Whatever will appear at the library at the bicentennial in 2102, the "shower" will help send us into the future ready to meet the community's need for information and literature.


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Centennial Thoughts:  The Carnegie Connection

In 1902 our library became a tax supported institution as a condition of Andrew Carnegie’s gift for construction. Carnegie’s requirement of community support shaped the development of public libraries across the country. Here are a few facts:

  • In the U. S. in 1898 there were 637 public libraries that held at least 3000 books. Few were housed in buildings dedicated to that purpose. By the time of Carnegie’s last grant in 1919, there were 3500 public libraries. Carnegie gifts paid for half of them. The total cost of all U. S. Carnegie libraries was $41,478.689 (about $800 million in 1996 dollars!).
  • The library program was never formally named or announced, but news was passed in the press, by the growing number of state library commissions and by word of mouth. It was administered by Carnegie’s personal secretary James Bertram.
  • Grants were loosely figured at $2-3 per resident and required communities to commit tax funds for library support, equal to 10% of the total grant annually. Carnegie’s grant was in effect "matched" by the community every ten years!
  • Indiana heads the list with the most grants per state at 156. Second is California (121) and Illinois (105).
  • In some communities there was concern that Carnegie’s money was "tainted" by questionable labor practices. Others feared Carnegie was building tax-supported monuments to himself. In fact, Carnegie’s name was not required to appear in the name or on the building, though nearly 1/3 of the recipients included it.

Facts from: 

Carnegie Libraries Across America: a Public Legacy / Theodore Jones (027.473 J79)

Free to All: Carnegie Libraries and American Culture 1890-1920 / Abigail Van Slyke (727.8 V279)

See also: Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie (B C288) Andrew Carnegie / Katherine Shippen (JB C280s)

Richest Man in the World, Andrew Carnegie (Class B video)


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Jay County Public Library  Portland, Indiana