Michigan Library Association
Located at 10 E. Chicago Street in front of Library, the Historic Marker text:
The first formal step toward the founding of a state library association was taken by Mary A. Eddy, of the Coldwater Free Public Library, in a letter to Henry M. Utley of the Detroit Public Library on January 13, 1891. They had discussed this matter at the 1890 meeting of the American Library Association in New Hampshire, a state association, they believed, would be helpful to Michigan librarians unable to attend national library conferences. Working closely with Lucy Ball, Grand Rapids Public Library, they awakened statewide interest and arranged the first Michigan meeting in Detroit, September 1, 1891. Mr. Utley became the association’s first president.
Historian notes (David McDonald):
With the advent of the railroad through Coldwater in 1850, the community brought in speakers for their lecture association. This continued through the Civil War period. In 1869 the Ladies Library Association was formed from members of the older lecture association. This new group set a very high bar for themselves with this mission statement:
“To establish and maintain a library to afford and encourage useful and entertaining reading; and to furnish literary and scientific lectures and intellectual improvements in the city of Coldwater”.
They were given a home for their library in the parlors of Dr. John Beech’s Italianate style home located next to the northeast section of the 4-Corners Park on E. Chicago Street. By 1874 they had grown in size, and need of room, so that Dr. Beech turned over a small house on his property to replace the parlors of his home. In 1877 a new library law (Michigan Public Acts, 1877, No. 164) was passed that provided for state sponsored libraries in Michigan communities. This law was the creation of Coldwater’s, Franklin Morgan. The small home continued to serve as the public library until late in 1886 when a new building, built by E. R. Clark, became the new home for the Coldwater Library. Following the Courthouse fire of 1972, the Coldwater Library merged with the Branch County Library. The libraries of Branch County are now components of the Branch District Library system, all serving under the leadership of a single system Director.