Library turns the page on its 125-year history with free celebration

Kim DeClue of Cottonpatch performs at a past event.

It just feels right to musician Kim DeClue to be part of the soundtrack for the Bartholomew County Public Library’s 125th Open House Celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. He fondly recalls plenty of reading and research and “hanging out amid the stacks” as a local grade-schooler and high schooler.

Even away from the book-filled building, he was impacted by a measure of its mission. Librarian Cleo Rogers, for whom the current structure is named, was his family’s neighbor during his 1960s childhood in the Circle Terrace subdivision.

“Everything seems to have come full circle,” said DeClue, a member of the local music group Cottonpatch that will perform a bluegrass/folk/pop mix at the celebration. Earlier this week, group members were discussing finding a particular tune or tune to link to a library theme.

The band, after, all does perform some Beatles’ material. DeClue chuckled about offering a rendition of something such as “Paperback Writer.”

“I have been going through our song catalog,” he said.

The free event will unfold on the library plaza and also a closed main thoroughfare at 536 Fifth St. downtown.

The gathering will include two food trucks — Party Chef and Miss Rachel’s Treats — a beer garden, a range of children’s activities such as coloring and crafts, and of course, birthday cake.

Maddie Paul, the library’s marketing and community relations manager, has been part of a 12-person committee of library staffers planning the celebration.

“It’s definitely going to be a big party,” Paul said.

The fanfare will focus on both the library’s decades of service here, plus the most recently completed renovations, Paul said. Plus, the 65th birthday of the bookmobile will be part of the hoopla.

“We have a lot of really cool images of what the bookmobile has looked like over the years,” Paul said. “And it’s pretty amazing to see its evolution.”

The first local library consisted of two rooms opened in 1899 in City Hall, according to library records and its website at Several local women’s literary clubs were responsible for that initial resource. In 1903, the 9,000-square-foot Carnegie Library, built for $19,200 and designed to look like a book standing open, was dedicated at the corner of Fifth and Mechanic (now Lafayette) streets.

A creative twist at the event will be the availability of small, stuffed free dolls of the late Henry Moore, the creator of the plaza’s celebrated Large Arch sculpture that has been the centerpiece of so many of the library’s activities over the years for youngsters and adults alike. Doll designer Sarah Marsom, who previously designed and marketed library architect I.M. Pei dolls locally (which also will be available), will travel from her Columbus, Ohio, home to attend.

Paul mentioned that organizers are hoping for a crowd of 500-plus people.

“We really want all the community to feel welcome, and to come experience the library in a new way, and simply enjoy the night with us,” she said.