The Shelby County Public Library's Genealogy & History Department provides housing for documentation dating as far back as 1820 for Shelby County and surrounding counties. It remains one of the largest sources of genealogy documentation in the state of Indiana. We hope to expand this department, open a Friends of the Library used bookstore, relocate our reference department and add office space by renovating an additional 5393 sq. ft at the library's annex -- the Carnegie East Wing.
Why is this renovation important? Currently, our Shelbyville library facilities are split into three buildings: main Carnegie library (57 W Broadway St.), Carnegie East Wing (33 W Broadway St.), and Genealogy & History (58 W Hendricks St.). This creates confusion for patrons and stretches our staff. By consolidating the Genealogy and History Department into the Carnegie East Wing, all of our facilities will have a unified appearance, Broadway Street access, and more backside parking for downtown traffic when the Genealogy & History home is eventually demolished.
The renovation at the Carnegie East Wing will also offer the library considerably more room. Although the Genealogy House is ‘homey’ and a treasured spot for researchers, the space is crowded. There is little room for patrons and staff to work, display Shelby County memorabilia, or store files. The house contains over 3200 family and history folders for the general public to access within our facility. These files contain invaluable information from Shelby County’s earliest organizations and settlers – many who traveled from Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Kentucky. There are also over 1000 microfilm reels (Census Records 1820-1930; Marriages 1822-1952; and Newspapers 1853-2013), 3000 history books --90% Shelby County and Indiana History (city directories; military records; Plat books; yearbooks; newspaper obituaries; and cemetery records), and 1000+ photos (Kermit Money Collection and additional donations from the community).
Individuals from all over the United States with Shelby County roots visit the department or contact them via email, phone, or facebook for research help (approx. 20 per week). Unlike visitors who come to the library to check out a book, genealogy researchers tend to stay for extended periods of time to sift through the non-circulating books. The area in the Carnegie East Wing will give the department 1000 additional square feet which will offer ample work, display, and storage space.
In our main Carnegie building, book shelving space, office space, patron work space, and storage space is crammed. The Indiana State Library requires that the library leave a certain amount of space at the end of the bookshelves of circulating material so new material can be added. We are currently exceeding our shelving room. By moving the reference books to the Carnegie East Wing, the material will not only be closer to the Genealogy history books but it will also open shelving room for our fiction and nonfiction collection and offer patrons more quiet study areas. One new office space will be opened in the Carnegie East Wing as well. This will be used for our computer services employee so he/she will be near the computer lab and able to assist with patrons using Wireless, projection equipment, or laptops in the public meeting rooms in this building. The inclusion of a Friends of the Library used bookstore will not only provide additional revenue for the organization but will also alleviate book storage space in the basement of our main Carnegie facility.
The history of the Carnegie East Wing: This property at 33 W Broadway St. (located next to the library) has been a staple in downtown Shelbyville for over a century. Elbridge Gerry Mayhew, nephew of the Governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, came from Martha’s Vineyard and built the home in 1887. Later, it housed the Ralph J. Edwards Funeral Home. Fleming Furniture Home, operated by Frank and Marie Fleming, eventually took over the space in 1945. They sold the business to Dick and Sharon Kiefer in 1969. Kiefer’s Furniture Home operated at this location for 37 years before deciding to relocate the business to Harrison St. The library purchased the property in 2007 to expand their services and has renovated the back half of the building (3550 sq. ft.). Two public meeting rooms and a computer lab are open to the public. The front half of the building is prepared for renovation. Check out the floorplan and timetable for the project. Approximately $200,000 is needed to complete construction and furnish the building. View the architectural video rendering of PHASE 1 of renovation.
Care to embody the historical aspects of the building will be taken throughout renovation. The fireplace will be repaired, arches will remain, and trimwork and plaster walls will be restored when feasible. All windows will need to be replaced, a sprinkler system added, and heating/cooling system installed.
Call Laura Guenin or Janet Wallace at 317-398-7121 to schedule a tour of the building.
How can you get involved?
*SHOW YOUR SUPPORT Tell us why you love the Genealogy & History department or share any fond memories that you have from the library. Thoughts can be emailed here.
*$100+ Donations Individuals or businesses who donate $200.00 or more will be recognized on a plaque in the new part of the building.
All donations are tax deductible and can be mailed to the following address: