History of the Cedar Lake Branch

The Front Street Branch: 1942 - 1962

Librarian Ruth Klemm with Lorin R. Burns, Administrative Assistant
Librarian Ruth Klemm with Lorin R. Burns, Administrative Assistant

The Cedar Lake Library began in 1939 when the town petitioned the Gary Public Library for services and that library responded with a bookmobile. Then in 1942 the town received its own library in a small rented space, 14’ by 24’, in a little store on Front Street in Biesieker Mall overlooking the lake.

As part of the Gary Public Library System it had its own small budget for a permanent collection and then also borrowed books from the Gary Public Library’s collection for a nominal fee per book—one to two cents each.

Librarians in those early days included Mrs. Iva Mae Cox, Mrs. James Watt, Mrs. Mable Rhodes, Mrs. Iva Mae Peterman, Mrs. Ruth Jackson, Mrs. Delight Peache, and Mrs. Dewey Marston.

The Cedar Lake Branch at Front Street was VERY small.
Inside the tiny library at Front Street

In 1959 it became one of the eight branches of the newly formed Lake County Library System, and it was the smallest. Between 1942 and 1962 the small library grew and quickly became crowded. It seemed too small and crowded for the growing community. It had no tables or chairs in the children’s corner, and no room for them, either.

In 1959 the Junior Federated Women’s Club started a library improvement program. Local civic and business groups joined the effort and in 1960 the Cedar Lake Library Council was formed to help establish a larger library. The board of the Lake County Public Library agreed; construction was planned for a site that included five lots. Martin Mager, a local developer, donated three of the lots and the board purchased two more. With the encouragement and financial support of the Cedar Lake community, the Library Board set out to build a new, improved and larger facility. The Library Board broke ground in April, 1962.

Groundbreaking for the Cedar Lake Branch, 1962. Present are Roscoe E. Protsman, Mrs. William Misch, Mrs. Sam Berg, and Mrs. Roy Haussman.
Participants in the ground breaking ceremony; Mrs. William Misch holds the shovel.

The Parrish Ave Branch: 1962 - 2006

Designed by architects Coleman and Coleman and built by Elmer A. Lottes, Contractor, it opened in November of 1962 in the Cedar Lake business district on Parrish Ave. At 4,500 square feet the library was described as comfortable and expansive and with its microfilm catalog, it was at the cutting edge of library technology. The library opened with materials numbering 11,000 with the capacity to house 20,000 volumes. It was also the first building in Cedar Lake that had floodlights for nighttime lighting of the building, considered an innovation at the time. The Cedar Lake Library Committee held many fundraisers; the monies helped purchase furnishings, a kitchen unit, a folding door and landscaping of the grounds.

Ruth Klemm was the librarian when the new building opened; she replaced Alice Marston who retired in June, 1961. Following Miss Klemm as head librarian in the years after were Winifred Young, Inga Lichtenstein, Bess Pozezanac, Jeannine Furukowa, Brenda Thompson, and Linda Johnsen. The library from its early years and to this day worked to meet the needs of the community by providing educational and recreational information and public meeting space through its collections, programming, and meeting room.

Plenty of space at the Cedar Lake Branch on Parrish Ave  Comfortable seating!  The public meeting room at the Cedar Lake Branch on Parrish Ave.

The W 133rd Ave Branch: 2006 - Present Day

LCPL Board breaks ground on the new Cedar Lake Branch in 2005.
LCPL Board members Robert Marszalek, Arthur Giannini, Sophie Misner, Ella Gilbertson, Michael Davis break ground in April, 2005.

In the early 1960's the library easily met the needs of its small community. The community began to grow, however, as did the collection, which slowly began to overtake the library. Office space became shelving for magazines and newspapers. Collection space shifted to accommodate the increasing need for computer access. Wiring was installed and Internet access became possible, but soon the need for greater access became apparent as the collection size surpassed 52,000.

The Lake County Public Library administration and board assessed the current and future needs of the community along with the condition and adequacy of the building. After careful evaluation, the Library Board of Trustees made the decision to build a new and larger branch. Land was purchased The Cedar Lake Branch near Hanover high schooljust east of the high school from the Hanover School Corporation. The library system broke ground in April, 2005 and the new branch opened to the public in May, 2006.

At 20,000 square feet, the new building is the second largest branch in the library system (not counting Merrillville, where Central Administration is housed) and has many wonderful features that will help the Lake County Public Library System continue to provide excellent library services to this growing community far into the future.

Choose a Branch to Learn More about Library History

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