Fennville District Library

Our History

Throughout its long history, the Fennville District Library has benefitted from a tremendous level of community support. The Fennville library traces its roots to the Woman’s Club of Fennville, which was founded on April 8, 1921. In March of the next year the members decided that one of their major projects should be the establishment and maintenance of a community library. An assortment of books gathered by earlier literary societies, supplemented by donations of additional titles from homes of Woman’s Club members, became the first library collection. It was originally housed on specially built shelves in The Model Shop, a clothing store owned by club member Mrs. Martha Johnson. Books began circulating in June of 1922.

With the help of a major donation ($2000.00) by Mr. and Mrs. William Northgrave in late 1923(September 9), the Woman’s Club raised an additional $500.00 and purchased a house located at 415 East Main, on the north side of the Street just east of the railroad tracks, which had been used for more than a decade (starting in 1910) as a meeting place for the Christian Science Society. Originally built in 1882 by J.G. Lamoreaux, the striking Italianate-style two-story structure featured full height bay windows. Following renovations, the building was dedicated in June of 1925. It was named Dutcher Memorial Club Home, in honor of Mrs. Northgrave’s parents. The Library occupied the building’s first floor.

Members of the Woman’s Club volunteered to staff and operate the library until 1948, when Minnie Little was hired as the first paid librarian. The Club continued to own the books and other assets until the Fennville Area Library incorporated as a separate organization in 1966 and took control of the collection. In 1968 the Club donated the building to the Library, as well. In 1976 the library became the Fennville District Library and joined the Lakeland Library Cooperative.

While the building had a great deal of historical charm, by the mid-1980s its age and small size were presenting significant challenges. It lacked both handicap accessibility and energy efficiency, and maintenance was becoming more costly and difficult. In 1986 a fund was established for a new building. The following year the library board purchased property at 400 West Main Street and contracted with an architect to design a 14,000-square-foot, two-level building with a budget of $900,000. In the spring of 1989 ground was broken on the new building. Following a year of construction, books and equipment were moved by community volunteers, and the new facility opened in April 1990 with the library occupying only the upper level. Just two years later, through the generosity of many local donors, the facility was completely paid for and a mortgage burning ceremony was held.

The library continued to serve the community’s needs and grow. In 2002, the lower level of the building was finished as a space to accommodate library programs and serve as a community meeting room for up to 150 people. In November of that year the voters of the City of Fennville and the townships of Casco, Clyde and Ganges approved a property tax levy of up to .6 mils to support library operation.

In late 2005 the library received a major bequest from the estate of Patricia Hall, a long-time library supporter and former Library board member. The majority of that money was invested and the interest earned is used to support operations. In 2008, the Fennville District Library Board used part of the money to establish an endowment fund with the Allegan County Community Foundation for the continued support of the Library.

Fennville District Library is ranked by the Library of Michigan as a Class IV library and it currently serves the information and reading needs of more than 14,500 patrons who live in the district or in townships that contract with it for library services. Its service area is made up of the City of Fennville, the townships of Casco, Clyde, Ganges, Lee (by contract) and the portion of Manlius Township that lies south of the Kalamazoo River (by contract). It holds more than 35,000 items in its own collection, with access to more than 3.7 million items owned by the 41 member-libraries of the Lakeland Library Cooperative. It also participates in both the Michi-card and MeL Cat programs, providing patrons with access to millions more items throughout the state Michigan. The library provides nine public access Internet stations, and wi-fi service for patrons who bring their own laptops. Cardholders can also place holds on materials, access numerous online databases and download eBooks and eAudio books remotely through the library’s web site.

Fennville District Library
400 West Main Street
PO Box 1130
Fennville, MI 49408

P: 269-561-5050
F: 269-561-5251

Mon - Thurs   10am - 8 pm
Friday   10am - 5pm
Saturday   10am - 2pm
Sunday   2pm - 4pm

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