History

In the beginning

New Castle-Henry County Public Library’s roots date back to 1829 when the county approved funding for a township library located in the County Courthouse upon its completion in 1830. The collection of books changed locations several times in the following decades. The library received taxpayer support in 1898, independence from the local school board in 1913, and a permanent location in 1916.

Wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie donated millions of dollars worldwide establishing public libraries, and New Castle was among 64 Indiana communities receiving a “Carnegie” library. This library building opened in 1916 with 4,000 volumes and 1,803 registered borrowers. In 1926, the Assembly Room in the library’s basement became new Children’s Library. The library’s services further expanded in 1942 when Henry County contracted with the New Castle Public Library to provide services for other areas in the county, and the library purchased its first bookmobile.

The 70s & 80s

In the early 1970s the library received an anonymous donation to construct a new building. The library board purchased two lots of land with plans to construct a new building, which became known as the “new ’76 building” after the year of its completion. Local teacher and library lover Alice Catherine Ratcliffe left one-half of her estate to the library in 1979. In 1986, these funds were used to renovate the Carnegie building (renamed the “Ratcliffe Building”) and construct a skywalk to connect it to the ’76 building.

Our current library

In 2006, the library completed a building project which added 45,000 new square feet of space and merged the Ratcliffe (Carnegie) building, ’76 building, and a new addition into one structure. This project preserved the original Carnegie library and used its styling throughout the rest of the building. The result is a functional,  attractive facility housing 223,674 volumes and serving 28,718 registered borrowers.