A Historical Study of Linden Carnegie Library
Excerpts from the writing of Bernice Beard King
Linden, a small incorporated town with the population of 619, is situated in the northwest corner of Madison Township. Madison Township, an area of 36 square miles having a population of 1,147, is situated in Montgomery County, Indiana.
The township government, consisting of a township trustee and an advisory board, has as one of its major responsibilities. The town government, consisting of one trustee from each ward and a clerk treasurer form the Town Board. The powers of the Town Board include the levying of taxes within statutory limits. From these two sources, the town and the township, come the greater part of the financial support for the Linden Carnegie Library. When the Carnegie Foundation gave the grant to Linden for the library, the town had to promise a tax levy which would bring in annually an amount equal to one-tenth of the original grant to act as a sustaining operating fund.
The library budget is planned by the librarian and the Library Board, reviewed by the Township Advisory Board, reviewed by the State Board of Tax Commissioners if the total rates are in excess of statutory limits, or if the budget and rebates have been appealed either by the municipal corporation or by the taxpayers to the Board of Review.
In August of 1915 the Linden Woman’s Club, feeling the need of a library, appointed a committee from its members to investigate the Carnegie Grant for Libraries. They were then to call a meeting of the men taxpayers of the community to find their reaction to a proposal that Linden petition for a grant.
The information received from the Carnegie Corporation told of certain conditions that have to be met to be eligible to receive the grant. The community was to provide the site, give assurances of adequate financial maintenance, and other items of less importance.
The meeting was held at the Linden Methodist church. It met with unqualified support. A library board was appointed in accordance with Indiana Library Laws.
On January 28, 1916, Linden received $7,500.00 from the Foundation. In the Linden community there has long been held the idea that Crawfordsville was the first city and Linden the last town in the state to receive grants from the Foundation. From the compilation in Carnegie Grants, there were four others before Crawfordsville and twenty after Linden.
A Carnegie Library is a free public library, an institution of social service, education, and recreation. Mr. Carnegie never asked that his name be attached to the library. After a community met with the conditions under which the gift was given, Mr. Carnegie never interfered. Mr. Carnegie, in explaining his reason for deciding to build libraries said,I think it fruitful in the extreme, because the library gives nothing for nothing, because it helps only those who help themselves, because it does not sap the foundation of manly independence, because it does not pauperize, because it stretches a hand to the aspiring and places a ladder upon which they can ascend by doing the climbing themselves. The ownership, control, and administration were left in the hands of the local community where the library had been erected.
Mr. Carnegie gave $2,508,664.38 to 164 libraries in the State of Indiana. There were states that received more money from the Foundation, but no other state has as many libraries that received Carnegie gifts.
World War 1 put a stop to the plans for a number of years. After the war, building costs had advanced to such a degree that new plans had to be presented. This plan was accepted and is the plan of the present building. During the war years the tax levy had been accumulating and that sum added to the Carnegie grant gave the necessary $9,995.00 for the building. Through the continued efforts of Mr. Hopewell and Mr. Fraley and many other interested citizens the goal was finally reached. There was a Linden Carnegie Library. There was an organization from the State Library commission. Its job was to arrange books and start the necessary records, to install a loan system, and to instruct the new librarian.
In May, 1922, the library opened. A musical program given by some of the younger girls of the community was well received. Among those in the orchestra were Ruth Coopman, Nina Miller Stewart, Lelah Smith, Evelyn Wright, and Pauline Harringan Comtois. The Board members were the same that had been working since the project had started.
The end of the first year a pamphlet was distributed by the Linden Board to the residents of Madison Township.
Throughout the years there have been many changes, Librarians have come and gone. There have been prosperous times and times of depression but the library was there to serve the community.
Any person living in Linden or in the surrounding Madison Township has the privilege of borrowing books. In 1979 inter Library loan services started. The library continued growing and in March 2008 after the completion of a major expansion the library was renovated and now offers many services including a community room fax service, internet access and children’s story hour.