Peru Public Library
As Peru’s Public Library begins to change, in hopes of new renovation, it is the perfect time to look back at the history of this ever-changing library.
In 1901, the Literary Society of Peru, along with a majority of the community, decided that it was time to create Peru’s first, and only, library. The entire institution was organized by the people and established by private donations. Books were donated, purchased, and kept in Peru High School until the town realized that the high school could not double as both a school and a public library. The town needed both land and funding if they were going to have a public library.
This is where Andrew Carnegie came into the picture. Late in 1901, the people of Peru appealed to Andrew Carnegie for a donation so that they could create a more suitable building. In reply to the town’s appeal, Mr. Carnegie offered to give $25,000 if the city would raise 10 percent of that amount annually. This offer was accepted and approved, construction began in February of 1902, and the library was open to the public by the end of the year. The first librarian of the new library was Miss Martha G. Shirk, and Miss Gertrude H. Thiebaud served as her assistant.
By 1913, the library had over 10,000 volumes and a large number of pamphlets and newspapers. They had also just celebrated 10 years as a public library.
Now, in 2014, Peru Public Library offers a variety of different services to the public compared to the original service of only loaning books. The library now offers a vast amount of materials and programs for the entire community to enjoy, whether they be a toddler or a senior citizen. The public library offers something for everybody in the community, and the people in the community continue to want to improve their library.
In fact, the library is trying to secure grants to renovate the main level of the building to add more space, which they hope will help to bring in more people for community events.
Looking back at the history of the library, it is evident how important a role community played in the building and the establishment of the library. Many years have passed, and much has changed, but one thing has always stayed the same: a well-established community at the heart of the library.
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