As one of the oldest public libraries in the United States and one of the oldest institutions in the city of Richmond, Indiana, Morrisson-Reeves Library (MRL) strives to meet the needs of citizens by supplying not only reading, listening, viewing materials and information but service as well.
In the late 1800’s Quaker businessman Robert Morrisson gave over $17,000 to build a Library for Wayne Township. This generous sum was used to buy land and cover the architect’s fees and construction costs. New books for the Library were purchased with his additional gift of $5,000. The new Library opened on July 30, 1864 and was the first township Library in Indiana. The parking lot to the north of the building was the site of the original Library.
Caroline Middleton Reeves donated $30,000 in memory of her husband, Mark, and her son, Arthur, in 1892. The money was used for an extensive expansion and remodeling of the Library. With the permission of the Morrisson heirs, the name was changed to Morrisson-Reeves Library.
As the collection grew and Library services multiplied, a new building was planned by the Library Director, Harriet Bard, and the Board of Trustees. This time building costs were approximately $2.5 million. On July 7, 1975 MRL moved to its new home just south of the original building. The new Library was dedicated October 10, 1976. In 1988 the building was remodeled to add the Audio-Visual Services Department in the lower level.
MRL has a long history as an esteemed educational and cultural resource for our community. The present Library honors that history by incorporating treasured items from the original building into the interior design and the landscaping. Architectural columns, clocks, antique furnishings, paintings, Tiffany windows and the circular staircase are just a few links the community has to this Library’s rich heritage.
In 2017, the Library underwent renovations to include opening a new Teen Center and the Clarence M. Brown Research Center. The Library continues the renovation efforts into 2018 including adding a Popular and New Materials section on the upper level of the Library.
The first recorded librarian was Jesse H. Brown, who held the position only a few weeks. Four librarians have succeeded Mr. Brown. Sarah Wrigley, considered the founding librarian, held the position for 39 years. Ada L. Bernhardt followed and served 42 years. In 1945 Harriet Bard was named Librarian, and she remained 40 years in that position. Carol B. McKey was appointed the Library Director in 1985. After 25 years of service, Carol B. McKey retired and the Board of Trustees appointed the current Library Director, Paris Pegg in 2011.