Library service in the Howell area dates back to 1875 when the Ladies Library Association of Howell began offering books for lending. As the population of Livingston County grew, the need for a
larger and more permanent library space also increased. Steel magnate turned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie agreed to donate money for a library building if the local government would provide a site and finance services at a cost of not less than 10% of his total donation (which amounted to $15,000) per year. Residents voted to support this plan, and architect Elijah E. Meyers, who designed the Michigan State Capitol building, was hired to design the new library. The opening ceremony for the 8,000 square foot building was in November 1906.
Over time, as the population continued to grow and the library expanded to cover a district roughly aligned with the Howell School district, it became apparent that a larger building was needed. A building addition of more than 22,000 square feet was carefully planned to fit in with the existing building, while allowing HCDL to provide the space and resources to shine as a 21st century library. The newly renovated and expanded library reopened in March of 1991 to much praise and e
xcitement. In 1993, the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association presented an Award of Excellence in Recognition of Distinguished Accomplishment in Library Architecture to the architects of the addition.
The 30,100 square-foot library is run by a staff of 42 employees (22.36 FTE) with an annual operating budget exceeding $2.7 million. The active Friends group provides additional funding that is used to help pay for books, support reading programs, and fund other programs and activities.
The library’s collection of 413,856 items consists of 108,829 books, 200,697 eBooks, 13,610 audio holdings, 53,514 downloadable audio items, 22,765 videos, 14,097 downloadable videos, and 344 magazines and newspapers. Users also have access to 81 databases. Annual circulation for physical items exceeded 400,000 and total digital circulation was more than 49,000. Over the last fiscal year, the library hosted 155 programs for adults with 2,840 attendees, 142 teen programs attended by 776 teens, and 578 programs for children, with 17,657 attendees.
The library participates in the Michigan eLibrary (MeL), a partnership of Michigan's libraries that share digital resources and is run by the Library of Michigan. Through MeL, users have online access to a wide variety of materials including movies, books, full-text scientific and academic articles, digital images, and more. MelCat also allows users to order physical materials including books, music, and movies, and have them delivered to their home libraries.
The library is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of seven appointed officials serving four-year staggered terms.
Photos courtesy of Howell Carnegie District Library