The Kewanna Library history started when it was organized in 1905 and housed in the local school building. Soon outgrowing the space, a corner room was rented in a down town business for the library collection.
It was not long though before the library again outgrew the space it was in. Through a grant received from the Carnegie Foundation, Kewanna’s first library building was completed at a cost of $8,000. Located at 210 East Main Street, in the center of Kewanna, the new library was dedicated on November 24, 1914, becoming the cultural center of the community. Meetings and educational programs were held in the assembly room. Uses for the library included, the Red Cross during World War I, First Aid classes during World War II, and kindergarten classes for the Kewanna School. The Pinhook Grange used the library as their official meeting place until their new building was constructed in 1961. Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and 4-H Clubs also held regular meetings at the library.
There are many unique features in the library. Several Carnegie libraries were built in the early 1900’s, but the stage located in the basement set Kewanna’s apart. Having a stage for public performances and programs has encouraged even more of the community to use and visit the library. Unique collections at the library include local history, Kewanna school pictures and trophies, and the entire collection of The Observer, Kewanna’s local newspaper. This local newspaper was in publication from the 1930’s to 2011. Joe and Karen Good, the most recent publishers of the Observer, donated their special collection of the original copies of the Observer to the library.
Even though Kewanna can be considered a small community, it still has a long, rich history. Kewanna librarians have captured and maintained this history, accepting donations from the community. Current library Director, Charles Rude stated, “I have tried to maintain Kewanna’s history and display it. This library has a bit of a museum quality to it displaying Kewanna town and school history by including trophies, class pictures, and old town photographs.” The library has stayed current with eBooks through Overdrive, and by joining Evergreen, an Indiana State consortium that includes over one hundred Indiana libraries.
An expansion to the Library through a Community Focus Fund grant, from the State of Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs was awarded by Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Skillman in 2010. Completed in 2011, doubling the size of the library, the expansion has made more room for a children’s and youth book section, meeting room space, public computer area, expanded Indiana Room collection, and a computer room for college and educational use. The library is fully ADA compliant, and has an elevator which reaches all three levels of the library, accessible by wheelchair, power scooter, and baby stroller. The library also offers a wide variety of programs for all ages, meeting rooms that accommodate 80 people or more and free continuously broadcast Wi-Fi. In 2011 the library was awarded a grant from the Fulton County Community Foundation for an electronic sign for advertising non-profit organizations, and local community events.
Kewanna takes pride in its library and the role that it plays in their community. The Kewanna-Union Township Public Library is not just a place to find books, but it is a place to preserve history and share it with others, while looking to the future.