History of the Library
In an editorial published on October 28, 1901, the Iron Port editor urged the building of a library. “Great benefits would result to the toiling masses who could obtain a liberal education.” A young woman, Etta McCarthy took the initiative to write to Andrew Carnegie and to a Mr. Cole, general manager of the Oliver Mining Co., in Iron Mountain and a director of the Carnegie Library Fund, requesting help in establishing a library.
The Escanaba Public Library was founded in 1903 with a $20,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation and a guaranteed annual income of $2,120 from the City of Escanaba. City Ordinance 114 was published on February 21, 1903, creating a Library Board. The Library building was located at 201 South 7th Street. Library service was initiated on June 1, 1903, with books first circulating on July 7th of that year. In 1904 a branch library was initiated in North Escanaba with seventy-five books. Throughout the Library’s history, branches were tried at Ford River, Garden, Stonington, Cornell, and Perkins.
In 1905 and 1906, Scott Literary and English Club lectures were so well attended that the Library could not accommodate the crowds. Meetings were transferred to the Assembly Room of the High School. The advent of the automobile drew readers away from the Library on Sundays, eventually causing the Board of Trustees to close the Library on that day in the 1920’s. Sunday services have not been available since that time.
In 1992, the City Council decided to initiate new construction on Ludington Street for a combined City Hall/Library complex. The new library opened in October 1995 at its present location, 400 Ludington.