Library History

1878 William Simms, superintendent of the city schools, organizes a high school library in the West Building.
Spring 1879 First Greenfield High School graduating class canvasses the city to collect books.
Fall 1879 First library association formed: George S. Wilson, president; Crissie Gilchrist, vice-president; Jessie Randall, secretary; Thomas Mitchell, corresponding secretary; Josie Tague, treasurer; Eddie Thayer, Lenna Gwinn and William Atherton, executive committee.
1895 New high school constructed completed at Pennsylvania and North Streets.
November 1897 Interested citizens meet at the high school to discuss ways and means of establishing a new library. A committee of 12 is selected by the president of the meeting, E. E. Stoner, to solicit $1,000 in funds. The high school cadet band makes its first appearance at this meeting.
Fall 1898 A committee is appointed to select books: Lee Harris, Charles Bruner, William Hough, Mrs. Ephriam Marsh, Mrs. Blanche McNew, Mrs. George Duncan. New library is established on the first floor of the high school building. Minnie Hughes becomes the first librarian.
1900 Library contains 2,030 volumes.
1906 School Board members J.W. Harrell, George Cooper, and Samuel Offutt apply to Andrew Carnegie for funding of a separate library building and receive $10,000. George Cooper donates the land as a memorial to his mother, Melissa Cooper.
1909 Carnegie building is completed and occupied by the library.
May 1917 Greenfield School Board turns the library over to the City of Greenfield. Library is re-named "City of Greenfield and Center Township Library."
1926 Anna Chittenden bequeaths $2,489.40 to the children’s collection.
1955 Library contains 15,459 volumes.
1955 The board discusses the possibility of county-wide service to defray operating costs now that they are carried entirely by Greenfield taxpayers. Center Township library patrons are no longer entitled to free library service. They must now pay an annual fee.
1958 Books and materials are loaned to hospital patients. The library also serves as an information bureau, answering unusual questions, including those formulated on television quiz shows. Sputnik has created an interest in science books among children.
1959 Librarian Vernie Baldwin retires after 61 years of service. She is presented a gold brooch at an appreciation dinner.
August 1961 The library holds fine-free days to allow patrons to return long-overdue books without paying a penalty. The Indiana General Assembly has recently passed the Public Property Protection Act that provides penalty for those who fail to return library materials, 30 days after a legally prescribed notice has been sent.
1979 The "Friends of the Library" meet to form their organization.
1985 The library moves to a new, 16,400-square-foot, $1.4 million building at 700 N. Broadway Street.
1990 In a referendum, the vast majority of rural Hancock County residents ask for full library privileges.
December 1991 Circulation statistics show that 76 percent of items removed from the library are reading materials, 24 percent audio-visual materials.
February 1992 An IBM computer is made available for patron use. Eight years after he dropped from a tree in their neighbors’ yard, Stan and Pat Young donate the preserved remains of a great horned owl, an endangered species, to the library.
March 1992 A pilot program begins to distribute $15 student cards. A family membership for non-Greenfield students presently costs $75.
August 1992 A new collection of recorded books on audio cassettes is added.
November 1992 The board approves the purchase of Newsbank, a computer research tool that will allow patron-access to wire service reports and newspaper articles.
November 1993 The Gaylord online catalogue system is put in use.
March 1994 Plans proceed to add dial-up-access service to allow patrons with computers to scan the library’s catalogue from home. A Macintosh computer has been added to the children’s department, with programs that allow the user to walk through a zoo or play inside books.
February 1996 CD-ROMs become available to patrons.
September 1996 A task group meets to discuss a practical plan to extend library service to the entire county.
November 1996 Computers for Internet access are made available to the public.
June 1998 Library Director Susan Waggoner writes in the Daily Reporter that over 2,500 items for the month had been read "in-house," many by non-residents who chose not to pay for fee cards which would allow them to check out materials.
August 1998 Greenfield Public Library celebrates its 100th anniversary with a walking tour of historic downtown Greenfield, an ice cream social sponsored by the Friends of the Library, music by Cathy Morris and Silken Strings, and a fashion show with clothing from the past 100 years provided by the Goodwill Service Guild. Jon Burroughs impersonates philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The library also gives those with outstanding fines a free pass for one week.
December 1998 Indiana Senator Beverly Gard authors Senate Bill 166 which would amend current restrictions on the use of County Economic Development Tax (CEDIT) revenues so that CEDIT dollars would be used to replace library expenses that are now paid by property taxes, with the stipulation that patrons be allowed to share library materials between districts. The bill will be sponsored by Bob Cherry and Scott Mellinger in the House. The idea for using this tax as a means for county-wide expansion was originally suggested by County Commissioner Armin Apple.
January 1999 The Sugar Creek Township branch in New Palestine officially opens its doors as a Greenfield-Sugar Creek Township Public Library branch.
May 1999 The Hancock County commissioners create a county-library taxing district, entitling all residents of Hancock County to library service.
March 2000 Library Board creates a three-part plan to be implemented by 2003: Expand or rebuild the main library in Greenfield, erect a branch in the western county due to population, and provide a bookmobile and other outreach services to remote areas.
September 2000 The HCPL board votes to appoint Assistant Library Director Dianne Osborne as the new director, after 11 years of library service in Greenfield.
January 2003 The Techmobile is christened. Funded by Lilly’s CAPE Grant, this techmobile takes technology to all of Hancock County.
March 2003 Plant-a-Branch campaign begins to raise $13,150 for a silk tree in the children’s room at the new Sugar Creek Branch building.
April 2003 SIRSI Automation System implemented.
May 2003 Marcia Hunts hosts "@ your library" on the high school radio station WRGF-89.7 FM. It airs on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Funded by the Friends of the Hancock County Public Library.
June 2003 New Sugar Creek Branch opens at 5087 W. US 52.
June 2003 HCPL receives $39,834.99 from community sponsors to fund the Summer Reading Program.
January 2004 SIRSI Single Search allows patrons to search all of the on-line data bases that HCPL subscribes to, including INSPIRE, with one "single search".
January 2004 Envisionware installed. This software works with the SIRSI system and allows patrons to sign themselves up for Internet times.
January 2004 Eastern Hancock Branch opens at Eastern Hancock Elementary School.
April 2004 HCPL receives two LSTA (Library Services & Technology Act) Grants:
  • Hispanic Grant - Provides material on the Techmobile to be taken to the community’s Hispanic population.
  • Wireless Local Area Network upgrade - Allows patrons to use their own laptops at the library to log into the library's system.
June 2004 Wireless network enables patrons to use their laptops to access the Internet and the library's card catalog.
August 23, 2004 After settling on an expansion plan, The HCPL Board breaks ground for a new main building at McKenzie Road and Fortville Pike in Greenfield.
November 2005 $536,760.18 has been raised by this point by the library's Capital Campaign, which will underwrite amenities and furnishings in the $7.5 million building.
November 28, 2005 The new library, located at 900 W McKenzie, opens its doors to the public.
January 23, 2006 HCPL hosts a week-long series of events to mark the grand opening of the new building.
July 2006 HCPL partners with the Riley Old Home Society and Museum and the University Library at IUPUI to digitize 24 of its vintage poetry books, along with 100 original Riley letters and 200 photographs from the museum. The project was funded by a Library Services and Technology Act Digitization Grant.
January 2007 Randall Majors Ship. A fantasy ship has docked in Greenfield. The interactive art piece reaches from floor to ceiling in a jumble of sea creatures and colorful coral. Children can search a treasure chest, sit on the feet of a giant starfish, or look through a periscope. The library commissioned the piece with proceeds from the Randall Majors Memorial Fund. As a high school student, Majors shelved books at the library. He later became a college professor and prolific writer. His family donated the gift after his death in 1995.
February 2007 Instant messaging service began, allowing patrons to ask questions of the Reference staff from remote locations.
January 2008 HCPL becomes Pathlight Partner with the Hancock County Community Foundation
April 2009 HCPL launches a Facebook page with the first entry “Paws to Read.” Children read stories aloud to a therapy dog.
February 2010 The library opens its channel on YouTube
October 2010 A new Information Desk was installed in a central location at the main library with high visibility and placement of staff at eye level for patrons. 8 additional public computers were added to accommodate growing demand.
February 2011 Hancock County Historian Joseph Skvarenina donates a large portion of his personal collection of local historical artifacts to the library for safekeeping.
April 2011 Lightning strikes the library’s roof over the Local History and Genealogy Room, but the fire is contained between the roof and ceiling and is quickly put out by the Greenfield Fire Dept. with minimal damage. Firefighters take the time to cover historical materials with a tarp so that none are lost.
May 2011 The Children’s Dept. purchases robots through grants from Walmart and the Friends of the Hancock County Public Library.
July 2011 The Library receives a "Big Read" grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to bring the community together in celebration of John Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath.
February 2012 The Library begins tagging the entire collection with RFID tags for better sorting, improved control over inventory, and faster turn-around time for returned materials.
March 2012 The Library participates in The Big Read with community-wide reading of and events based around John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with Arts Midwest.
May 2012 The Library installs a new RFID exterior bookdrop for immediate check-in of materials.
January 2013 Library Director Dianne Osborne announces she will be retiring this year, after 23 years of library service, 13 of which were as Director.
February 12 2013 HCPL Board unanimously selects Assistant Director Dave Gray as next Library Director.
April 30 2013 Director Dianne Osborne retires after 23 years of library service.
May 1 2013 Dave Gray begins first day as Library Director.
February 23 2015 Techmobile is retired, replaced by a Sprinter Van Bookmobile.
2017 The Library remodels interior spaces in Greenfield to add additional gathering spaces, study rooms, and seating.