History of Library

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.

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.