JTPL History: 120 Years and Counting

By nbrewer
  • Jeffersonville Township Public Library Association formed

    Jeffersonville Township Public Library Association formed
    After several months of soliciting donations, the local Women's Club was able to raise enough money to begin the process of creating a public library.
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    JTPL History Inquiry Project

    A look back at the historical events that have shaped my library. For this inquiry cycle, I have chosen to use the Alberta model. When I first began this project, I went in with a general understanding of the events that have shaped JTPL's history, but I wanted to really dive into the subject. My initial questions were centered on the beginnings of the library and the leadership that has shaped it through time.
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    Initial Findings

    My first efforts in the inquiry cycle brought me to our Indiana Room, where I was confronted with a mess of materials. I was provided with two large square containers and two smaller boxes filled with articles and other clippings related to the library. I was very disappointed to find them in a completely disorganized state. My initial discoveries about the library included the surprising number of buildings JTPL has occupied and the number of directors that have served over time.
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    Sources

    Baird, L. C. (1909). Baird's History of Clark County, Indiana. B. F. Bowen: Indianapolis, Indiana. Haffner, G. O. (1985). A Brief, Informal History of Clark County, Indiana. Indiana University Southeast Bookstore: New Albany, Indiana. Kramer, C.E. (2000). 100 Years and Counting: The Jeffersonville Township Public Library 1900-2000. Self-published. Kramer, C. E. (2007). This Place We Call Home. Indiana University Press: Bloomington, Indiana. *Pictures courtesy of JTPL or Community Commons.
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    Evolving Questions

    One surprising fact that I discovered at the beginning of this inquiry was the strong female leadership that began the JTPL movement. The Women's Club that formed the JTPL Association played an important role in much of the city's development in the early 20th century. This discovery allowed me to reconsider my own understanding of city development, and pushed me to look deeper into the foundations of library leadership from a female point of view.
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    Synthesis of Findings

    From the outstart, this project was meant to give me a deeper understanding of the people and events that have shaped JTPL history. The many discoveries that I made while conducting research have provided me with a new perspective, one that can see undercurrents connecting the past with the present and on to the future. I have a better appreciation for the historical aims of this institution, and the general causes that have spurred its development within the community.
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    Next Steps

    I would really like to continue to learn about the various past directors, and their ideas and philosophies regarding librarianship. Immediately, some level of organization is needed to make this material more accessible, meaning some sort of organizing efforts within the Indiana Room. After those efforts are made, I would like to continue to dig for the information that I found lacking in my inquiry cycle.
  • Original Location

    Original Location
    The original location of JTPL was the second floor of the Citizens National Bank. The bank offered this space free of charge! The doors officially opened on December 17, 1900. The original operating budget was $550! The collection of materials at this point was around 1,700 books.
  • JTPL gets its first Librarian!

    JTPL gets its first Librarian!
    Miss Bertha Poindexter was appointed the first Librarian of JTPL. Her monthly salary was $20. She served as the library's leader until 1919.
  • A New Space

    A New Space
    As the library's collections continued to grow there was a realization that the second-floor space was inadequate. A letter was sent to Andrew Carnegie requesting $15,000 for the construction of a dedicated library building.
  • A New Location

    A New Location
    In December, the city council passed an ordinance donating Warder Park to JTPL. This location was in the heart of Jeffersonville, IN.
  • Arthur Loomis chosen to design the new Carnegie library.

    Arthur Loomis chosen to design the new Carnegie library.
    After receiving word in February 1902 that Carnegie would provide monetary support for a new building, local architect Arthur Loomis was chosen to design it.
  • New Library Complete!

    New Library Complete!
    In December 1904 the Carnegie library was completed. It opened to the public in January 1905. Upon opening, the library had well over 3,000 books available to the public.
  • New Director

    Mrs. Isaac Palmer Caldwell takes over as the library's leader.
  • New Director

    Miss Bertha Poindexter returns to the library, and once again runs the show. She will have the difficult task of navigating the library through the Great Depression.
  • New Director

    Mrs. Emma Bricker takes control of the library. Bad timing, as the library is about to be hit with the worst natural disaster in recent times!
  • The Great Flood of 1937 damages the library.

    The Great Flood of 1937 damages the library.
    The Great Flood of 1937 was the worst natural disaster to strike the area in recent memory! The Ohio River flooded the cities of Jeffersonville and Louisville, KY. Many of the library's holdings were destroyed. The library was closed for many months afterward as a cleanup operation began. The acting librarian at the time, Mrs. Emma Bricker, solicited donations and worked with the Indiana State Library to rebuild the collection. The library was finally reopened in November 1937.
  • New Director

    Mr. Oscar Everhart is now the Library Director.
  • New Director

    Mr. H. F. Dade becomes the newest Library Director.
  • New Director

    Mrs. Ruth Beamer Tilton is now the Library Director. She was recommended by the Indiana State Library. She did not last long, and her reason for leaving is unknown.
  • New Director

    Robert W. Roehr becomes the new Director. He brought with him many improvements to JTPL, including building upgrades and new policies for employee leave time.
  • Expanding Services

    Expanding Services
    During WWII Jeffersonville served as an important ammunition manufacturer for the US government. This brought an influx of people to the city seeking employment and increased the service population for the library. One area in particular, nearby Clarksville, grew significantly. JTPL opened a new branch at 304 West Stansifer Avenue in October of 1955 to better serve that population.
  • New Director

    James H. Harlan is now the library's leader. Little is known about his tenure at the library.
  • New Director

    Delilah Allen becomes the new leader. Little is known about her tenure at the library.
  • New Director

    John Frey takes the helm. His biggest contribution to JTPL was planning a new building for the Jeffersonville location.
  • New Director

    Patricia Goheen succeeds Frey. She left after only 15 months on the job.
  • John Frey Returns

    John Frey returns as Director and completes the process of moving to a new building.
  • Clarksville Branch Closes

    The Library Board of Directors decides to close the Clarksville Branch and replace it with a bookmobile! This bookmobile would service the Clarksville area as well as some portions of Jeffersonville.
  • New Jeffersonville Building

    New Jeffersonville Building
    The new building was completed in March 1970 at a cost of $715,000. The doors opened to the public on March 11.
  • New Director

    Osmon A. Crain takes over after Frey's retirement. Little is known about his tenure at JTPL.
  • New Director

    Elaine Phelps takes over the leadership position. She will stay for just six short months!
  • New Director

    New Director
    Sheryl Yoder's progressive leadership advanced the library's causes. She was well-received among staff and the public. Under her care, the library expanded its collections to nearly 97,000 titles!
  • New Director

    Sue Ellen Stultz was a librarian at nearby Indiana University Southeast when she was selected to succeed Yoder. During her time at the library, she successfully completed a smaller renovation to the library's basement area. During this time a Friends group was established to raise funds for JTPL. Her tenure, however, was rocky with the staff. She resigned her position in June 1980, with Yoder coming back to serve as interim Director until a replacement could be found.
  • The Bolte Era

    The Bolte Era
    Bill Bolte's lengthy leadership of the library ushered in several important changes to the institution. Not only did he bring the library into the digital age, he also oversaw the construction of a new Clarksville Branch and a major renovation to the Jeffersonville location.
  • New Clarksville Branch

    New Clarksville Branch
    When Bolte took over leadership of JTPL, his first major hurdle was the establishment of a new Clarksville Branch. He was confronted with an angry Clarksville school system, who complained about a lack of library services to the area. Construction on the new building began in May 1992, and the doors opened to the public on May 2, 1993.
  • Jeffersonville Renovation Project

    Jeffersonville Renovation Project
    In the early 2000s, the main location of JTPL was running out of space! Bolte's solution was to add a second floor to the library, adding 11,000 square feet to the building. Construction began in January 2004 and the new building opened in January 2007. The Jeffersonville location operated out of a nearby US Census building during the interim period.
  • Libby Pollard Takes Over

    Libby Pollard Takes Over
    After 27 years of service, Bolte retired in 2008. He was replaced by Libby Pollard who is the current Director. Pollard served as the Assistant Director at the nearby New Albany Floyd County Public Library before she came to JTPL. Under her leadership the library has undergone two major renovation projects.
  • Clarksville Branch Renovation

    Clarksville Branch Renovation
    After securing a $2,000,000 bond, Pollard undertook a major renovation project at both locations of JTPL. Beginning with the Clarksville Branch in 2018, several improvements to the building were made. Two new meeting rooms, study rooms, and self-check technology were added to the library. The renovation was completed in January 2019.
  • Jeffersonville Renovation

    Jeffersonville Renovation
    The main location of JTPL is now undergoing its second major renovation in two decades! A new center meeting room has been created and the entire first floor has been updated with new carpeting, furniture, and the incorporation of self-check technology. This renovation is expected to be completed later this year.