Canton library celebrates past, anticipates future

Festive balloons welcomed visitors to the 95th anniversary of the opening of Canton Township Carnegie Library Saturday afternoon. The library board is seeking to build a $400,000 addition for handicap accessibility and more space.Saturday’s 95th anniversary open house at the Can­ton Township Carnegie Library not only celebrated something old, but also the anticipation of something new on sunny Saturday afternoon.

The library, overlooking Main Street, officially opened Oct. 1, 1921, as the last of 2,059 Carnegie libraries to be built in the United States.

But the board is excited about the possibility of new a chapter for the historic building: a $400,000 addition that not only will increase the floor space, but also provide handicap accessibility.

Currently, patrons arriving through the front door must either climb stairs to reach the main floor, or climb downstairs to reach the lower lovel.

“We have too many stairs,” said Kim Witt, board chair. “We’re going to apply for (state) Heritage Funds, and we have tax credits we can use. We will try to devise other avenues before we ask for donors. It’s going to be about a three-year process.”

The Canton Literary Study Club was responsible for bringing a Carnegie library to the community. A member of the club wrote a letter to the Carnegie Corp., which offered $6,000 for a building in November 1916. The literary club provided $250 and others donated $1,000 to secure a site.

“It was given to us before World War 1, and when the war happened everything was put on hold, and the community thought it wasn’t going to happen,” Witt said. “After the war, we were approached whether we still wanted one—and we did. They had to scale it down because of costs.”

The structure was completed in 1921.

In preparation for Satur­day’s event, the board had painted the outline of the proposed addition on the grass on the backside of the building.

“We just painted this a couple of days ago and our hearts started beating faster because it looks so real,” Witt said.

She is hopeful the Carne­gie origin may make it easier to qualify for project grant money.

“It may not help for the state’s historic funds, but I think we have a really great story,” she said. “I think it will help us with grants and when we do fundraising.”

The board celebrated the 95th anniversary open house with a story time for children, visits by several area authors as well as refreshments and tours.

The library hours are 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thurs­days, 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays and 1-3 p.m. Saturdays.

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