Coldwater Branch Library


  • Ladies Library Association began
  • Mrs. Alma Lewis (portrait hangs in the director's office) first president
  • Located in parlor of Dr. Beech's home (now Putnam's Funeral Home across the street)
  • 800 books in collection
  • Open seven hours per week
  • First librarian: Eugenia Pruden
  • Salary in 1874: $100 per year


  • Coldwater Free Public Library established in a small house behind the Beech home
  • Consolidated with the Ladies Library Association
  • Michigan Public Library Law passed, allowing tax-supported libraries (introduced by Franklin E. Morgan, from Coldwater)
  • City council allotted 1 mill taxation
  • Special "enabling" legislation stipulated women could serve on the library board
  • 3500 books in collection
  • Henry C. Lewis first board president


  • Property and building at current location donated by Edwin R. Clarke
  • Building designed by William Poole, Librarian of the Chicago Public Library and author of Poole's Index to Periodicals, the forerunner to the Readers' Guide
  • Architect M. H. Parker translated design and E. B. Saxon was in charge of construction
  • The top floor was designed and used for lectures and adult education
  • Original dedication ceremonies held in Tibbit's Opera House, December 29, 1886


  • Mary Eddy hired as librarian at $300 per year
  • She won a national award for a bibliography for young people
  • The clock in the current reference department (1st floor) was purchased from O. D. Chapman and placed in the reading room (it is a late nineteenth-century oak regulator wall clock with Swiss movement


  • Michigan Library Association founded
  • Mary Eddy was a major force in the organization, which is still in existence today


  • Lewis collection (3400 books and art work) donated to library
  • Some of the books, the statue of an Amazon warrior in the lobby, and several paintings are still in the library collection
  • The megalethescope on display in the third floor was part of this collection
  • Miss Florence Holmes became librarian


  • Portait of Edwin R. Clarke (now hanging in the Holbrook Heritage Research Center on the first floor) commissioned from Judson Knight (local artist) by the library board


  • Library interior re-decorated
  • Electricity added!!


  • Library hall opened for use of general public for meetings


  • 16,551 volumes
  • Stacks area opened to the public


  • Toilets installed!!


  • Lewis collection separated from the rest of the collection and made non-circulating


  • Complete re-organization of the library


  • The Great Depression caused salaries to be cut 10%, telephones removed, staffing from WPA and NYA
  • Library board resigned


  • Branch County Library System established
  • For a time, it shared staffing and facilities with the Coldwater Public Library


  • Branch County Library added a "Library Truck" with Miss Ruth Tupper in charge


  • Mrs. Alice Weiler became Branch County Librarian


  • A book exchange cooperation with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Library, the township libraries, and the rural and city schools, was set up in December


  • A proposal for the use of a courthouse room to house the county library was discussed on June 12
  • Branch County Library moved into new headquarters in July


  • Outreach services include the first "walk-in" bookmobile, purchased in July
  • Contracts were drawn up with Union City, Algansee, Bulter Township, Quincy, California Township, and Kinderhook Township for branch or station sub-libraries
  • Mr. Robert Orr served as Branch County Librarian


  • Contract signed with Gilead Township for a station


  • Bronson became a branch library


  • Sherwood became a library station


  • Lakeland School became a station
  • Batavia Township and Girard Township were other stations, but the dates of their contracts are unavailable


  • A reciprocal Library Agreement was dranw up for 18 months between Colwater Public Library and the Branch County Library on March 8
  • Mr. William Smith, later on the faculty of the School of Librarianship at Western Michigan University, became head librarian for both libraries


  • Tax limitation proposal on general election ballot defeated, resulting in the termination of the Library Agreement between Branch County Library and Coldwater Public Library due to insufficient funds
  • Bookmobile service discontinued
  • 5 branches and stations closed


  • December 5 saw the Branch County Courthouse go up in flames, necessitating the relocation of the Branch County Library to temporary quarters in the basement of Coldwater Public Library
  • Official re-opening on June 1, 1973


  • Coldwater Public Library receives Michigan Historic Preservation grant to restore the exterior of the building


  • Coldwater Public Library sale of old and rare books stimulates development of endowment fund


  • July 25th: The eighth draft of the merger contract between the Coldwater Public Library and Branch County Library was approved by the Branch County Board of Commissioners, forming one library, to be called the Branch County Library System, and serving all of the residents of the county
  • Coldwater Public Library receives Public Works grant and bonds for the remainder of one million dollars to enlarge and update the building
  • Library temporarily relocated to the basement of the new Branch County Courthouse


  • Renovation and expansion completed
  • Library returns to the Edwin R. Clarke Building
  • Dedication ceremonies for new Building on May 19
  • Director is Phyllis Rosenberg


  • Other library Directors were: Miss Margaret Chapman (1938-1939), Angeline Dean (1948-1959), Mr. Lee Gregory (1950-1951), Mrs. Hazel Whipple (1951-1952), Miss Elizabeth Ogan (1953-1961), Mrs. Phyllis Rosenberg (1962-1963), Mrs. Arnold Hensch (1967-1968), Mrs. Ella Riffel (1967-1976), Ms. Mary Hyslop (1976-1977)


  • The Branch District Library is formed on May 30, 1991, combining the Coldwater Public Library with the Branch County Library.
  • For events in 1991 and beyond, see the Branch District Library timeline.