These policies are intended to serve as a guide for the Board of Trustees, for the Staff, and for the Patrons of the district served by the Fulton County Public Library (FCPL), namely: Aubbeenaubee, Newcastle, Liberty, Richland, Wayne and Rochester townships, the city of Rochester, and the town of Fulton. It is also intended to serve as a statement to the employees and board that they may better understand their duties and responsibilities. These policies have been adopted after due consideration and are believed to be in the best interest of the FCPL, the board, the staff, and the community served by the Library.
Fulton County Public Library Mission Statement
It is the mission of the FCPL to provide programs and materials to our community which promote education, culture, information, and entertainment.
Description of Area Served
Fulton County is situated in north central Indiana, approximately 100 miles north of Indianapolis and 45 miles south of South Bend. Its county seat, Rochester, is centrally located within the county and is served by the state's principal north-south highway, US 31; Indiana Highways 25 and 14 also traverse the county and city, while Indiana Highway 17 extends through the county's western side. Its principal railroad is the Norfolk & Western, a north-south axis.
Immediately east of Rochester is the 800-acre Lake Manitou, which is utilized extensively by county citizens for recreational and residential purposes. Numerous smaller lakes dot the county and the Tippecanoe River passes through its northern area.
The population is predominantly rural, featuring an industrial base that has had a steady but controlled growth over the past 30 years. Rochester, a fifth-class city, is the county's mercantile center. The city and its immediate area contain half the county's population of 18,694. Also located in the county are the towns of Akron, Kewanna, and Fulton, along with the unincorporated villages of Leiters Ford, Talma, Grass Creek, and Athens.
A library is a living record of man's progress from the Stone Age to the Space Age. Libraries are a stepping stone to the future as well as a bridge to the past. The Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731 established the first public library in the United States. Books were so precious and valuable that they were chained to the tables and could only be used in the library. Our present libraries with free and ease loaning of materials make quite a contrast.
When the Indiana Constitution was adopted in 1816, it provided for establishing public libraries in each county of Indiana.
In the late 1800s, Andrew Carnegie was the great benefactor of libraries in the United States, having provided the funds for some 2,500 public libraries. Carnegie libraries are recognized by their distinct architectural style. The original Fulton County Public Library building in Rochester was financed by Carnegie funds and built in 1906-07.
The Fulton County Public Library owes its origin to the Women's Club of Rochester, through the enthusiastic efforts of Alice Stahl, a member of the Club, taking the initial step to establish a library.
A maximum subscription of $14 per person was required to become a petitioner to meet the requirements to submit a petition to the town council to levy a tax for library support. This was soon accomplished and the first Library Board meeting was held January 29, 1904.
The use of the Grand Jury room in the Courthouse served to house the collection of 500 volumes, mostly donated. Iva Etta Sullivan cared for the books.
The Library Board was able to obtain funds from the Carnegie Fund, as a $10,000 grant and later an additional $3,000, provided the local board could guarantee a sufficient amount to purchase a lot and meet operating expenses. The building became a reality and a formal opening was held on September 4, 1907.
In 1921, library service was extended to five townships in Fulton County outside Rochester, except for Henry and Union townships, who had and still have their own township libraries at Akron and Kewanna. The townships supported library funding by a contract agreement, making a total of 289 square miles of service area.
In 1923, bookmobile service began for those residents living in rural areas and to the rural school. A small branch library was opened at Fulton in Liberty township in September, a single room above the Gilmore Grocery. The branch was open 3 days a week.
After several moves from one location to another, the chance to build a real library in Fulton was given by then current librarian, Mrs. Phyllis J. Meyer and her husband, Charles C. Meyer. In 1967, the Meyers donated a lot on which to build a library. The library was built, was dedicated and opened on March 16, 1967. It was named the Phyllis J. Meyer Branch Library in honor of Mrs. Meyer's years of service to the library community.
At her retirement in 1971, Mrs. Meyer had given nearly 46 years of service to the Fulton community as their librarian. The Fulton Library is now open six days per week and has grown to include many additional services besides books, such as story hours, personal computers, magazines, and videos.
A second Branch was opened at Leiters Ford in April 1970, and is known as the Aubbee Library. It was originally housed in a room of the local Fire Station. It moved to the closed High School in 1978, but as the school building became more and more inhospitable, the library looked for a new home. In 1989, the Aubbee Library moved to the rear of the TrustCorp Bank. In 1990, TrustCorp Bank became Society Bank. In 1992 Society Bank closed and donated the whole building to the library. In the spring of 1993 a major renovation to the building was undertaken to better make use of the facilities. December of 1993 saw a minor setback, as one of the two furnaces in the building belched out soot over everything. New furnaces were purchased and installed in early 1994, with a conversion from oil burning to natural gas burning furnaces.
In 1994, using Capital Projects Fund monies, the Aubbee facility had changes in the restroom facilities to better accommodate the wheelchair bound.
In the early 1980's the Main Library in Rochester was also having some growing pains. As the number of volumes and services increased, the available space in the original Carnegie building shrank and shrank. It was decided that the time to build a new library had come. After much study and planning the new building was built and dedicated in 1984.
The new building is only about two blocks from the original site of the old Carnegie at 804 Jefferson St. Also in 1984, the bookmobile service to outlying areas was discontinued, in favor of placing more funding into the branches. In 1994, the Rochester Library had electronic door openers installed for easier access to the physically challenged. The Library continues to work to meet the challenge of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In June of 1996, the Rochester Library closed its meeting room and converted it into the Childrens area of the library as a move to stave off expanding the building.
The Rochester Library has over 60,000 volumes of books, with collections of audio recordings on cassette and compact discs, periodicals, videocassettes, filmstrips, and services including computers with CD-ROM's for public usage, typewriters, outreach programs to the jail and hospital, a literacy coalition begun in 1988, children's programs, and services to local nursing homes. In 1993, the Libraries became automated with the Dynix integrated library automation system. Modules including an automated catalog, circulation, dial-up access, community resources, and accessions were added.
The Rochester Library sits adjacent to a unique feature in the library world; a "Strolling Visual Library" (or Arboretum). This area comprises over half the block, and houses various indigenous trees of Indiana. There are walkways and benches and a gazebo to rest in. This project is owned by the library and was undertaken through the work of a prominent local man, Jim Heyde, who was able to visualize the possibilities of the space, and had the resources to make that dream bear fruit. Mr. Heyde solicited donations from local businesses, industries, and individuals to pay for the project. No tax dollars were used in the creation of this park. Also included are depictions of the State seal, motto, poem, song, flag, bird, and flag. The arboretum was dedicated in May of 1993 by Governor Evan Bayh. The Library is responsible for the upkeep of the property.
During this time the library was also able to acquire the final section of property on the block. The small house sitting in the SW corner of the block was purchased and became the home of the Fulton County Literacy Coalition and El-Tip-Wa Adult Education programs. It was dubbed the Adult Education Center. This house is only seen as a temporary home for these agencies.
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