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Library readies for 125th anniversary

Members of the Friends of the Library toured the area that will become their bookstore in the library’s Carnegie East Wing, which also houses the genealogy department and computer lab.

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

Amid banging, clanging, dust and debris, the Shelby County Public Library is getting ready for a milestone.

“On June 2nd, we’re 125 years old,” Janet Wallace, director of the library, told a meeting of the Friends of the Library.

The volunteer Friends group meets quarterly and raises money to support the library and its programs.

Located at 57 W. Broadway St., the original building is a “Carnegie library” built with the help of a $25,000 grant from industrialist Andrew Carnegie, one of nearly 1,700 such libraries constructed in the United States. 

At their meeting late Tuesday afternoon, the members talked about what to do to celebrate the 125th anniversary, along with plans for the “Night in the Stacks” wine and cheese fundraiser April 21 and the bookstore the Friends of the Library will open.

Because of the ongoing renovation at the library, having a large, formal celebration exactly on June 2 may be a challenge.

However, they could do a series of smaller events, suggested Sandy Whitten, president of the Friends of the Library.

“We could have an open house week,” she said.

No plans have been formalized yet for the anniversary, but another big event is set to go.

At 7 p.m. April 21, the library will host its annual “Night in the Stacks” wine and cheese fundraiser, featuring live music, local foods, craft beer and, of course, wine.

Tickets are still available, said Wallace.

“Our goal is 125,” she added. 

Each ticket is good for one glass of wine or beer, and a commemorative glass. A silent auction will be held as well.

Ten local organizations are sponsoring the wine and cheese event with enough funds to cover expenses, so all of the money from ticket sales can be used for the library’s plaza project, Wallace said.

Under construction now, the plaza will be between the main library building and the Carnegie East Wing, 33 W. Broadway St.

After their meeting, the Friends of the Library members toured the section of the CEW that will house their bookstore.

Plans are to have a permanent bookstore operated by the group with the proceeds of the sales going to the library. A sitting area with a fireplace will be adjacent to the bookstore area.

Final completion of the extensive $2 million library renovation project is a moving target at this point, but they’re hopeful it will be finished this summer, Wallace said.

To get tickets to the “Night in the Stacks” wine and cheese fundraiser, stop by the library or call 317-398-7121.