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Surrey Township Public Library

Library History

  • The History of the Surrey Township Public Library

    The Ladies Library Association was Incorporated in 1879. The "library" operated out of a local store for the first few years of its existence.

    In February 1882 the Farwell Land Company gave property to "The Ladies Library Association" to establish and build a local library. The community donated labor, material, and books. The present building was completed in January 1883.

    On January 1, 1888 the Library was dedicated and declared free from debt.

    Besides a library, the building was used for area church suppers, the Rebekah Lodge. Later, the Farwell Women's club held meetings in the building. For a few years the Methodist and Congregational Ladies Aids held 10 cent dinners here. During the World War the activities included Red Cross work. In 1931 the Township rented the building for a public Library until the present one was built. During this period the Library suffered a fire and was badly damaged, and the public responded again with labor and donations.

    Surrey Township rented the building for their Library from the Ladies Library Association until they moved into a new building in 1975, at which time the original library was turned over the the Farwell Historical Society to be used as a museum.

    The current library building was dedicated in 1976 and quickly proved to be too small. Through the grant writing efforts of then Library Director, Jane Eisenhauer, a wing was added in the mid-1980's and a second wing was added in the mid-1990's. These additions provide much needed space for the library to better meet the needs of the community.

    Surrey Township Public Library began using a computerized check-out system in 1988. The database was housed on site and the system ran through Apple IIGS computers.

    In 2004, Surrey Township Public Library became the first library in Clare County to provide a 24/7 wifi network to the public.

    In late 2006, the Library Board voted to join MeLCat (Michigan eLibrary Catalog). MeLCat provided statewide access to materials through an Inter-library loan and delivery system. The library had to close for eight weeks while teams of volunteers and staff re-cataloged every item in the building to meet the requirements of the MeLCat system. The library re-opened in January 2007 with state-wide access available to all patrons via MeLCat.

    2011 was a busy year at the library. Through donations made in memory of John Frisbey, Don Pitchford and James Weighart, the library erected a new custom sign and landscaped the front of the building. In the fall, a new computer area was opened that expanded the public computers from four to fourteen with grant funds from The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the library connected to the county-wide fiber optic network.

    In 2012 the Library Board voted to earmark funds for the digitization of the library's local newspaper archives. The digitized editions of the Farwell newspaper (various name changes over the years) is available in the library on a dedicated computer.

    One of the Library Board's wish list items was checked off in 2014 with the purchase of two lots adjoining the library property to the north. With a matching grant from the Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Library was able to purchase the property and begin construction of a pavilion for use by the library and its patrons. The Larry L. Laverty Library Pavilion was dedicated in July 2016. The pavilion has been used for all summer library programs and by countless local residents for family reunions, birthday parties, baby showers and family picnics.

    In the fall of 2016, the Library experienced a minor interior make-over. The circulation desk was reconfigured and moved, a wall was erected to create office space for the Library Director and a comfortable seating area was carved out in the west wing near the non-fiction area. The Marilyn Stanfield Children's Room was moved to a larger location on the west side of the library. Renovation of the new children's room included murals painted by the Library's cataloger, Breea Jewell-Hockemeyer.

    Due to a generous donation from the estate of Edwin "Bud" McNeilly in July 2018, the Library purchased a 3D printer and created a new service program entitled "Laptops for Learning". Laptops for Learning is aimed at library patrons who are actively attending college and are in need of a laptop for the semester. In November 2018, introductory training was made available to the public on the use of 3D printing technology. Surrey Township Public Library was the first library in Clare County to provide access to this new technology.