History of the Forty-First Avenue Branch (1914 - 2012)

Service to the Calumet Township area, which includes the Forty First Avenue area, was first provided in 1914 by contract with the Gary Public Library which placed deposit stations in Griffith, at the school and Post Office. Later, the Gary Public Library had a store-front branch library in Griffith, and bookmobile service to the rest of the Township.

The 41st Ave Bookmobile
The 41st Ave Bookmobile

The First Permanent Library was on Wheels!

In 1952, the Lake County Library District was created as a step-child of the Gary Public Library to more directly serve those areas outside the city of Gary. And in 1959 the Lake County Public Library became an entirely separate library system with five buildings, two house trailers, three rented buildings, and a bookmobile. The bookmobile stopped in Black Oak and Forty First Ave.

By 1961 the bookmobile was no longer capable of mobility and was permanently parked at Forty First Avenue – Forty First Avenue’s first “permanent” library. Plans for building additional libraries began in 1959, but the bookmobile continued to serve until the present building was opened on December 8, 1966.

Marvel Deistler and a young patron
Marvel Deistler and a young library patron

Annabelle Castle was the first librarian at Forty First Avenue. Marvel Deistler, originally the librarian at the Black Oak Branch, transferred to Forty-First Avenue and spent the remainder of her career here until she retired. Marvel is still remembered fondly by long-time patrons.

The Beginnings of "Calumet Township"

Kathy Cotton Deal was transferred from the Highland Branch in 1981 and became head over the Griffith and Black Oak Branches. When Marvel Deistler retired from the 41st Avenue Branch, Administration started to refer to the 3 branches as Calumet Township and Kathy Deal was placed as head over all three.

Several years later, Kathy Deal was transferred to Highland and Ingrid Norris became head of the township, followed by Mary Tuytschaevers. In 2002, Mark Furukawa transferred from Hobart Township to Calumet Township. Mindy Riegert was transferred from Griffith to 41st Avenue in November of 2002 but, during the monetary crunch in which the smaller branches went open half time, spent 3 days a week at 41st and 2 days a week at Black Oak. After opening full time again in 2005, she transferred full time to Black Oak.

In May 2010, Mark Furukawa retired and Chris Rettig was promoted from Librarian at Dyer-Schererville Branch to Calumet Township Manager, returning to the 41st Avenue Branch where she once worked as a clerk and a librarian.

41st Avenue Merges with Griffith

41st Ave 1999
The 41st Ave Branch, 1999

Meanwhile, Lake County Public Library administration and board were assessing the current and future needs of the Calumet Township communities, along with the condition and adequacy of the buildings. After careful evaluation, the Library Board of Trustees made the decision to combine the Griffith and Forty-First Avenue facilities and build a new and larger branch at the corner of 45th Avenue and Colfax Street. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on May 10, 2012 and staff at both branches began planning to combine their collections for a new Griffith-Calumet Township Branch.

The Forty-First Avenue Branch closed on December 31, 2012. After closing, the bulk of the branch's collection was transferred to the new building. In Fall 2013, an auction was held to sell unneeded furnishings and equipment, more shelving was installed, and the branch became off-site storage for LCPL materials.

The new Griffith-Calumet Township Branch opened on March 28, 2013, serving patrons from the Forty-First Avenue Branch area as well as Griffith and surrounding communities.

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