Q. What is the history of the Indiana State Library and when did it open to the public?
The first official mention of a state library for Indiana is made in the Journal of the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1816. The General Assembly did not take formal action until the first session after the capital was moved to Indianapolis. The State Library was established by an act in February 1825. In 1835, a Statehouse was completed in Indianapolis on the south end of the current Statehouse grounds, and the library was housed in this building. Because of crowded quarters in the state capitol, the library was moved to a separate building in 1877. A new Statehouse was built and opened in 1887 and the library was moved into the new Statehouse until the current building was opened in 1934.
The original concept of the State Library was a library for the use of legislators and other officials to help them conduct government business. It is difficult to identify when the general public began to use the library, but in 1842, the privileges of the library were extended to Supreme Court attorneys, newspaper editors, clergymen, and physicians. In 1847, its use was extended to officials of the “state lunatic asylum” and institutions for the blind and deaf, and in 1850 to all professors and teachers in the state. In 1903, a lending service was extended to include the citizens of the state, mailing books to borrowers who did not have local libraries. By 1934, the new building was designed for use by the general public.
More information on the history of the Indiana State Library can be found here.