It seems hard to believe, but the Dexter District Library building on Alpine Street turns 10 years old in 2019. We will be celebrating this milestone on Sunday, May 5 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm with an open house for the community. We will have refreshments and music from a small group of Dexter Chamber Orchestra members providing musical accompaniment. The Library staff is working on a number of displays to highlight the changes and accomplishments we have experienced in the last decade. The best news is, the Library remains a hub of community activity, greeting approximately 175,000 visitors each year. We opened the new facility on March 9, 2009 after three years of planning, land acquisition and construction.
The Library was founded by The Dexter Woman’s Study Club in 1927, first as a shelf of books in a local store and later in the small building on Central Street that now houses the Hotel Hickman Chuckwagon BBQ restaurant. In 1938, the Village of Dexter took over support of the Library, but the Woman’s Club continued to operate it until 1957, when the village assumed management through an appointed “provisional board.” In that same year, the Friends of the Dexter Public Library was organized.
In 1963, at a meeting of the Friends, Dexter Village president Bruce Waggoner proposed the purchase of a house at 3173 Baker Road as a Library building. It was suggested that because the Library had always served all the residents of the Dexter School District, a Library district covering the same area as the school district be established under the Dexter Library Establishment Act of 1955. The five municipalities that formed the district included the Village of Dexter, Scio, Webster, and Dexter Townships, and the Dexter Community Schools Board of Education. Each municipality appointed members to the new Library Board and each pledged financial support
By the early 1990’s, it became apparent that if the Library was to grow with the community and provide the kind of library service its patrons expected, it would need more support than the municipalities were able to provide. So in 1994, the voters of the school district were asked to approve 1/2 mil support for the Library’s operations, and they did so by a wide margin. As a result, the Library was able to engage its first professional director, extend its open hours, add staff, and begin a long-overdue updating and expansion of its collections. The need for more room to accommodate these changes led to the purchase and renovation of the former Methodist Church Education Building at 8040 Fourth Street, and in July, 1996, the Dexter District Library moved into its new home.
The Fourth Street building allowed the Library to increase its collections, have room for events and revitalize the Friends of the Library. Use of the Library doubled during this period. The Library also automated its card catalog and joined The Library Network Shared System, providing access to over 1 million items and daily delivery of requests. The increased use made it evident a larger location would be necessary to fulfill the community’s expectations. Between 2000 and 2005, the Library went through several planning sessions before the voters approved a $7.5 million bond issue to construct the Library on Alpine Street in November 2005. Approval of the bond allowed the Library to purchase and demolish the three residential building on the current site, create the architectural drawings, secure Village planning approvals and complete the construction. In March, 2009, the Library opened for business at its new location of 3255 Alpine Street.
The Dexter District Library Board and Staff are pleased to hold this milestone event on May 5 for the entire Community. Everyone is welcome, registration is not required.