History of the Warren Public Library
Although the country was in the grip of the Great Depression, the spring of 1934 offered a bright promise for the old Village of Warren. A group of village residents decided to establish a library. They invited a State Library consultant to meet with them at the old Murthum School. The principal, Mr. Whitman, served as temporary chairman. Each attendee paid a membership fee of twenty-five cents and a donation of five dollars was asked of those who could afford it. Membership subscriptions were solicited throughout the community.
The plans progressed and in October an election was held. With this Village residents elected to the library board Mrs. Chris (Anna) Zorn, President; Mrs. Earl Steins, Vice-President; Mr. Chris Foss, Secretary-Treasurer; Mrs. Robert Parrott, Trustee; and Miss Nellie Elkins, Trustee. The group adopted bylaws, and with the donation of 516 books, and the State Library’s load of 200 books, the library was almost ready to open. Mrs. Zorn donated one room of her home, the “Sunday parlor”, at 31715 Seventh Street to be the home of the Warren Community Library. One January 3, 1935 Warren’s first library opened for business.
After a year, the library moved from Mrs. Zorn’s to the I.O.O.F hall on Chicago Road. On January 14, 1937, another bright moment occurred when the Village Council accepted the library as an official Village Institution and donated $25.00! By 1940 the Warren Community Library was supplying books on a monthly basis to the schools. The records show that the library flourished during the next few years, as the collection grew and more and more people used the library.
By the late 1940s the Warren Community Library had outgrown its quarters in the I.O.O.F. Hall. The library committee appealed to the Village Council for a larger place to house the collection.
The council approved the move of the library to the Village Hall at 5961 Beebe St. and the library spent $2,000 in renovations to make it suitable for use as a library. After remodeling and redecorating, the Warren Community Library reopened to the public in its new quarters on February 10, 1949, with 5,000 books on the shelves.
However, this library only serviced the north end of the present Warren area and the burgeoning south end was without library service. During the early stages of World War II, the Federal government erected a U.S.O. building in Warren Township and a “Victory collection” was established.
After that building was sold, the Warren Township made appropriations to the Center Line and Village of Warren libraries to help meet the communities’ needs, but this was inadequate for the growing demands of the people in Warren Township.
The Township Board consulted the Macomb County Library, who agreed to staff, provide books and the know-how if the board would furnish a building and $1,000 in penal fines. A store building was rented on the west side of Van Dyke at Dodge and on April 1, 1951, at a public ceremony, the Warren Charter Township Branch of Macomb County Library opened. Gerald Neil was the chairman of the Library Commission for this newly established library. In 1951, another move brought the library to 23544 Van Dyke. Although this provided service to the Van Dyke area, all of Warren Township was not covered. There were many library advocates who still had a dream to have branches located in all corners of the Township.
In January 1957, Warren incorporated as a city and assumed control over Warren Community Library in the Village, and the Warren Township Branch of Macomb County. The mayor appointed a new library board from the membership of the two previous library boards. The Charter granted .3 mil of tax money to operate the library, and later changed to .5 mil. On January 29, 1958, the library building started by the Village of Warren and completed by the City of Warren was dedicated as the Washington Irving Branch. The cost of building was $28,340.
In 1964, the Washington Irving Branch became the Library Administration Building, and the collection moved to the Green Acres Shopping Center.
Om May 22, 1960, the Edgar A. Guest Library was dedicated. It was a bargain at $98,172.99 for the site, plans, construction, and furniture. The Guest Branch served southeastern residents until April 1, 2004, when it was closed permanently due to budget constraints.
The Dorothy Busch Branch opened its doors and was dedicated on January 6, 1963 at a total cost of $120,322, with 4,700 square feet.
The Walt Whitman Branch was dedicated October 3, 1965 at a total cost of $152,647.
The Maybelle Burnette Branch was dedicated June 19, 1966 at a cost of $207,081, with 6,069 square feet.
Because more space was needed, the Green Acres Branch relocated in 1970 to a rented building on Mound Road.
On February 14, 1971, the dedication of the Arthur J. Miller Branch, in honor of the first mayor, took place. Miller was built at a total cost of $209,595. Construction was financed largely through a $175,000 loan by the City of Warren Police and Fire Retirement Commission.
On April 7, 2003 the Miller branch on 13 Mile was closed and on May 12, 2003 was reopened in the Warren Community Center at 5460 Arden, with a square footage of 17,000. Construction of the new branch was financed by Warren’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
On October 16, 2006, the DDA then planned a new building which would encompass City Hall and the Civic Center library. The Whitman branch was closed and the collection was moved to the Civic Center library in November 2006. The new Civic Center Library along with the Administrative Offices opened on January 3, 2007 on the first floor of the new building, with 34,000 square feet.
In October 2009, the Library Commission adopted a resolution to recommend a special election requesting the voters to approve an increase of .85 mils. On March 23, 2010, a formal motion of the City Council authorized the proposal to be placed on the August 3, 2010 ballot. Budget constraints forced the closing of three library branches with only the Civic Center library remaining open. In the primary election of August 3, 2010, an additional millage of .85 was passed (65% yes, 35% no) bringing the total dedicated millage up to 1.35.