History & Statistics

Mission Statement

Building community. Encouraging exploration. Connecting with the world.

Values and Beliefs

We believe:

  • Everyone has the right to library services.
  • Everyone has the right to privacy and diversity.
  • The library is more than just books, materials and technology.
  • The Peabody Public Library will strive for excellence in serving the community with a friendly and inviting environment.
  • The Library is the community’s center for life-long education.
  • The library must be responsive to the current and future needs and requests of the community.
  • We believe in operating as a fiscally responsible organization.
  • We believe the library is a vital component to the quality of life in the community.

Vision Statement

The Peabody Public Library will participate fully in promoting the vitality and growth of a community of readers, learners, doers and dreamers by providing access to ever evolving technology, resources and educational opportunities.

See our current Strategic Plan here.

Service Area

The Peabody Public Library is supported by property taxes from Columbia City, Columbia Township, and Thorncreek Township.

Memberships and Affiliations

The Peabody Public Library is a member of Evergreen Indiana , Northern Indiana Computer Consortium for Libraries and Northeast Indiana Libraries Serving Communities consortia. In addition, the Peabody Public Library holds memberships to the Indiana Library Federation, American Library Association, the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, and the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce.  The Peabody Public Library endorses and is guided by the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statement that recognizes the individual’s right to unencumbered access and free exchange of information and ideas vital to an informed citizenry.

Latest Library Statistics

Service Area Population 15,323
Library Visits 169,953
Items Circulated 166,190
Reference Transactions 11,176
Online Resource Uses 163,315
WiFi Uses 25,346
Public Computer Uses 15,003
Total Program Attendance 26,030

Library Holdings

Adults' Books 45,161
Youth Books 40,775
Videos (Physical & Downloadable Units) 7,331
Audio (Physical & Downloadable Units) 8,225
Newspapers & Magazine Subscriptions (Print & Electronic) 215

Many more items are available through shared resources with other libraries and through online subscriptions!

History of the Peabody Public Library

The Peabody Public Library was established in 1901 through the philanthropic contributions of Leigh Smith J. Hunt. He offered to support a public library for the benefit of the people of Whitley County. Known as the People's Free Library of Whitley County, the library opened for business on the second floor of the Raupfer Building located on the corner of West Van Buren and Line Street. During the first year, 29,675 items circulated.

Artist's rendition of the Peabody Public Library in its former location on North Main Street.

Concerned citizens circulated petitions to keep the library open in 1911 when Mr. Hunt could no longer financially support it. The City Council of Columbia City responded by passing an ordinance to make the Library a tax supported institution.

In 1917, Simon J. Peabody donated land and funds to erect a building on North Main Street. He also bequeathed money to the library and the governing board created an endowment which has enabled the library to purchase capitol improvements. In 1970 the library board built a major addition doubling the size of that library. In 1992, the library became a Class I library and expanded its district to include two surrounding townships.

In 1999, a new 27,500 square foot facility was built on Highway 205. Unfinished areas were used for an expansion in 2010. The 14.25 acres of property also include a wetland area that may be used for educational purposes.

Some previous members of the library board include

  • Rob R. McNagny - local author
  • Thomas R. Marshall - Governor of Indiana & Vice President of the United States
  • Andrew A. Adams - Judge & member of the Indiana House of Representatives
  • James Fleck - Mayor of Columbia City.

Community Recognition

  • The Peabody Public Library was selected as the Jewel of the Community by the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce in 2014.
  • 2015 Indiana State Library Annual Report recognition for the countywide Battle of the Books contest.
  • The Peabody Public Library won Whitley County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Month in June of 2016.
  • 2017 Passages, INC Partnership Award
  • 2019 Passages, INC Fleck Advocacy Award
  • 2019 Indiana State Library Annual Report recognition for the LSTA Grant funded Wild about Wetlands program.