Since 1873, The Indianapolis Public Library has served the people of the city, both growing and changing to fit their needs, making it "a live thing in the whole town."
Upon his retirement after 42 years of public service, Associate Director Lawrence J. Downey undertook the task of compiling, writing, and indexing a comprehensive history of the library to which he dedicated his working life. His book, A Live Thing In The Whole Town: The History of the Indianapolis Public Library, was the result. In addition to the digital copy, a physical copy can be found in the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.
This digital collection of materials from the Library's archives continues the work Mr. Downey carried forth from his predecessors, especially Eliza Browning, an early librarian and advocate for building branch libraries. Browning once said the library was "a live thing in the whole town," giving Downey the inspiration for the title of his book.
This collection is dedicated to his memory and will help faciliate exploration of the Library's rich archives. The newest volume of the library's history, Stacks, by Skip Berry and Mary Ellen Gadski, brings more library history to light. To order a copy please contact the The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.
This collection is made possible by past and present Library employees and friends of Lawrence J. Downey through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.