When the library opened its doors on March 4, 1975, it was the first new facility undertaken by the library since the construction of the Valparaiso Library in 1916.
But library service in South Haven didn’t just begin in 1975. It all started 10 years earlier when the Valparaiso Library started a Bookmobile Demonstration program to promote library service in the un-served areas of Porter County.
From the first, response from the South Haven community was enthusiastic. This show of support encouraged the Library Board to find a site for a permanent library building. That came about in 1974 when Paul Saylor donated land at the corner of Greendale and Longrun Road where the first South Haven Library was built.
The 3,200 square foot building housed 7,300 books, 40 periodicals, and was open 38 hours a week. Maurine Wittgren was the first Head Librarian and the only other employee was Andrea Pink the Children’s Librarian. During the first day of operation, around 200 children visited the library and 125 people received new library cards.
The community continued to show its support. The South Haven Lions Club donated $5000.00 for the purchase of books and the South Haven Community Association gave $500.00 with the pledge for another $2,000.00. That pledge was kept with a final donation of $500.00 in 1979 for a total of $2,500.00 specified for the Children’s Department.
Over the years the book collection grew from 7,300 to over 37,000 and many items were kept on the floor underneath shelves or stored in boxes. The audio visual collection of records, art prints and filmstrips totaled 21,000 items. The small combination staff/story hour/storage room was so overflowing with back issues of magazines that story hours could no longer be held there.
In 1993 land was purchased at the corner of McCool Road and 700 North in South Haven as part of Porter County Library’s five library expansion program. This became the home for the present South Haven Library. In November 1995 dedication ceremonies were held for the new library. But disaster struck in December when a water pipe gave way in the sprinkler system above the ceiling. The library was closed for three months while $450,000 in repairs were done to the new building.
At 13,250 square feet the new building includes additional space for Youth Services collections and programs, a Reference Department with Internet computers, computer and study rooms, as well as, a much needed community meeting room.