The Fortnightly Club, a social and cultural club in Hebron, was instrumental in the establishment of the library. In February 1917, the Fortnightly Club formed a committee that contacted other small towns about how they started their libraries. The committee also contacted the State Library Commission to secure a copy of state library laws and procedures. The law required that at least 50 freeholders sign a petition and pledge a $2.98 subscription to the library. The subscription price was determined by the assessed valuation of Hebron and Boone Township. The subscriptions collected totaled over $1,000.
The first library board meeting was held on June 21, 1917, with M. E. Dinsmore, President; Carrie F. Nichols, Vice-President, Nattie L. Bryant, Secretary; Jay Buchanan, Treasurer; O. E. Nichols, Jessie Bryant, and Elizabeth Patton as board members. Their first act was to purchase the house and lot on the site of the present library, known as the Kenney Lot, for a cost of $1,300. The president of the library board, M.E. Dinsmore, mortgaged his own house to buy the property until the library board had the funds to take over the payments. A request for funding was made, and the Carnegie Corporation donated $7,500 towards the construction of a library building in September 1917.
Until a library building could be built, the library opened on July 27, 1918 in the house on the property purchased for the new library building.
In July 1919, Eagle Creek Township of Lake County became a part of the library district, joining the town of Hebron and Boone Township. Since building materials were so expensive, and Eagle Creek Township had been added to the library district, the library board contacted the Carnegie Foundation to request additional funding. The Carnegie Foundation provided an additional $2,500 when Eagle Creek Township was added to the library district. Local funding totaled $2,500. Bids for the building were taken in March 1921 with construction begun later in the year.
The library was finally dedicated on April 28, 1922. Festivities included day and evening tours, stories for children, a presentation of the library’s history, and music by the Hebron Orchestra.
Hebron Public Library was one of the last Carnegie libraries built. Due to World War I, the Carnegie Corporation of New York Trustees ended library gifts on November 7, 1917. No new applications were considered after this date, but money continued to be allocated during the 1920s for offers made previously. In all, Carnegie Corporation gave money for 155 Indiana libraries.
In 1942, citizens erected a stone memorial in the library’s front yard that still stands today in gratitude to the Carnegie Corporation. It is inscribed “Hebron Public Library. Dedicated in 1922. This tablet placed in recognition of donation received from the Carnegie Corporation.”
Hebron Library continued to serve the residents of Boone and Eagle Creek Townships for many years. Then, in July 1990, Hebron Public Library merged and became a part of the Porter County Public Library System. Porter County Public Library System was about to embark on a major building project, and Hebron Library was part of this plan. The original Carnegie building was renovated and enlarged to meet the needs of the growing Hebron area. The library purchased and moved the house behind the library in order to expand the building at its original location. During the construction process, the library moved out of its current location in the summer of 1994 and was temporarily housed in a store building at Main and Sigler Streets until moving back into the enlarged and renovated library in August 1995. The original Neo-Classical style Carnegie building contained 2,430 square feet. The “new” Hebron Public Library contains 12,800 square feet. The new building was dedicated on November 12, 1995.
Not only did the Hebron Library building grow larger in square footage, its other statistics have grown larger as well. When it opened in 1922, the library was open 16 hours a week. It is now open 50 hours per week. In 1922, there were 547 borrowers and a circulation of 1643. In 2001, there were 4,466 borrowers and a circulation of 126,513. Modern technology has enabled the library to provide services that were not even invented in 1922, such as photocopying machines, word processing, video and CD loans, and Internet access. Technology still hasn’t replaced the library’s most popular service — the lending of books.
As our world continues to grow and change, Hebron Library will continue to meet the needs of the community.