People and Progress
1912 Through 1919
1912: A group of citizens gathered at the home of Eugenia Mayer to discuss the possibility of organizing a library in the community. Dr. M.W. Webster led a committee to search for a library director and a location.
1913: In May, the committee chose Gladys Stump as the first librarian. Less than a month later, the room above the current Corner Café was leased, and a book shower provided 100 titles to create the foundation for the collection. The library opened to the public in August.
1919: The library improved accessibility and increased in size with a move to the first floor of the Knights of Pythias building (the former Kent Theatre) in February. By November, the library had to move again when the building was leased or sold. The board purchased the little white house at the corner of Maple and Front streets, making the corner its permanent home.
1930 Through 1970
1930: At this time the library’s collection had grown to eight thousand books.
1970: After years of service and in need of many repairs, the little white house was torn down and replaced with a new building. Construction of this building was funded largely by the Fred Graham estate. Throughout construction, the library continued serving the community from the town hall, and in June volunteers helped the library staff move into the new building.
1990 - 2005
1990: With a donation from Theodore Schultz the library expanded to the east, adding room to increase the collection and provide a permanent home for Schultz’s one-of-a kind gem collection.
2006 Through 2015
2007: More than $100,000 was raised in six weeks through donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations, which led to the approval of a state grant. Construction added an elevator, lower-level community rooms, a large local history/genealogy area, administrative offices and expanded the children’s room.
Changes and improvements to the library continued throughout the 2000s with the addition of a parking lot on the east side of the building and designated parking spaces on Front Street. The most recent alterations to the library include changing the name, in 2012, from South Whitley-Cleveland Township Public Library to the South Whitley Community Public Library. The name change was made to include all areas served by the library.
2007 Through 2022
2017: The front entrance of the library was remodeled to offer better access for all patrons. An external materials drop box was added at this time as well.
2020: A gift from Alan Fox allowed the library to expand to the north, adding individual study rooms, an auditorium and space for Fox’s collection of historical materials.
Fred Graham: Research engineer Fred Graham left his estate, totaling $190,000, to fund the construction of a new library in 1970, replacing the little white house that had served the community since 1919.
Theodore Schultz: A security officer who served four U.S. presidents, Schultz’s hobby was collecting and polishing gems. He donated $20,000 to the library for an expansion in 1990 that provided more room for materials and a permanent location for his gem collection.
Alan Fox: The former owner of Fox Products provided $500,000 to expand the library in 2020. This addition include an auditorium, new staff work space and conference rooms. His donation also included his expansive collection of military books and movies that are now housed in the Fox Room.
Hired by the organizational committee to be the library Director, Gladys Stump served SWCPL from 1913 to 1919.
When Ms. Stump accepted another library position, Ms. Metzger was named as her successor. She worked as Director from 1920 through 1957.
Ms. Bollinger was hired as a library assistant in 1931, then completed her professional certification and became Director in 1957. Marian served in that position until 2003.
Ms. Kessie was hired as Director after Ms. Bollinger retired, serving from 2003 – 2009. She then served as director again, from 2014 to 2015, after Ms. Wozniak-Anderson’s term.
Serving first as the adult programming associate at SWCPL, Ms. Wozniak-Anderson took over as Director when Ms. Kessie retired. She served in this position from 2009 until 2014.
Following a career as a school librarian, Ms. Builta then began work in public libraries and became Director when Ms. Kessie left the position in 2015. She has been serving in that role since that time.