The Library movement in the City of Harvey began in 1898 with the formation
of the Harvey Library Association. The organizers of the Association were Professor
F.L. Miller, Miss Myrtle Lister, Mrs. C.J. McKee and Miss Georgia Mynard. Subscribers
to the service paid twenty-five cents a year and were thereby privileged to
borrow one book a week from a collection numbering about 250 volumes. It is
thought that the original collection was assembled primarily from individual
gifts. The success of the subscription association and the growth of the City
led to the passage of an ordinance in 1903 establishing the Harvey Public Library
and Reading Room. The ordinance made no direct provision for the construction
of a building, but since Andrew Carnegie, the philanthropist steel king, was
generously providing the funds for numerous library buildings, an appeal was
made to him for assistance. After an exchange of letters between Professor Miller
and Mr. Carnegie's secretary, it was agreed that Mr. Carnegie would grant $12,500
for the construction of a building if the City of Harvey would provide the site
and stock the structure, when completed.
Several sites were considered, but the site at 155th Street and Turlington
Avenue was finally purchased with funds from public donations as well as from
the City. With the site acquired and construction money assured, the Carnegie
interests left it entirely in the hands of the newly appointed Library Board
to select the type of building most suitable for the community. A design was
selected and actual construction was begun in late 1905. Mr. Carnegie increased
his gift to $13,500 and the building was dedicated in May of 1906.
Usage of the Library grew as the City increased in population. By the 1960's
the population being served was over 30,000, and the concept of a library as
a place in which to read or borrow a book had grown to include such services
as providing business records, movie film, musical recordings, copying equipment,
microfilm references, foreign language recordings and, through membership in
the Suburban Library System, access to an almost unlimited supply of material
too expensive for local libraries to purchase.
By the late 1960's, it became evident that the Carnegie library was too small
for the growing community, and since it was impractical to enlarge the existing
structure, a new building was designed, erected and dedicated in 1971.
The structure quickly became overcrowded, and as finances permitted, additional
ground was purchased and plans were prepared for a 1975 enlargement which consists
of what is now Youth Services, Director's Office, Reference, the Auditorium
and the Story room.
On July 1, 1988 the Phoenix Public Library District signed a contract for services
with the Harvey Public Library and one year later, July 1, 1989, the Dixmoor
Public Library District contracted for the same.
In April 1990, the Harvey Public Library petitioned the courts and became the
Harvey Public Library District. Previous to this, the Board Trustees were appointed
to the positions, and now the public would elect the Library's Board of Trustees.
This first election was held in April 1991.
In 1906, the initial collection of books numbered approximately 2,500. The
staff consisted of one full time librarian, a part time assistant and a janitor.
One of the early budgets show a total of four thousands dollars to cover salaries,
supplies and books. Today there is a collection of approximately 81,000 books
and 4,500 audio visual materials. The Library is staffed by 11 full time and
10 part time employees. In March 1974 the Harvey Library was one of the original
libraries to have an on-line circulating checkout system. In July 1992, the
Harvey Library District became the first library in the Suburban Library System
to connect all of their computers in the building to form a Local Area Network.
In November 1993, the Library started using an on-line catalog system (CL-CAT)
giving patrons access to the library's card catalog via a computer.
January 1997 brought new changes with the introduction of the Internet and
it's superhighway of information. Internet access was made available to the
public in June of 1997.
It should also be mentioned that an impressive group of dedicated citizens
have freely given their time to serve on the Board of Trustees and have helped
to make this library an outstanding source for education and recreation in the